It has been an eventful few days. Don’t let the title fool you, Paris is a dream and it has exceeded my expectations. And I just got here. The honeymoon stage isn’t over yet. But there are some little things that you forget to think about.
For example, on our first night I went out to eat with a few friends and none of us knew how to order in french. Thankfully, the waiter was very patient with us as we tried to get over our language barrier. If you’re going to a country where English is not the main language, please study the language, invest in a phrase book, or get yourself a phone or SIM card that has a data plan for you to use google translate in advance.
Okay, but you already knew that. You don’t need another person reminding you that not everyone will know English wherever you go.
A note on the SIM card though- you don’t know how useful a phone with wifi or a data plan is until it’s gone. I didn’t invest in a SIM card with a data plan until my third day here, and it has already made settling in to this country so much easier. I have google maps, and with google maps you can download maps so that you can view them offline. Since google maps shows the metro lines while your connected to wifi, I thought that if I downloaded a map of Paris, it would download the metro lines too. I was wrong. I also thought that it will show me walking routes. Also wrong. It only shows how you can get from your location to where you want to go by car, so it won’t tell you how to get to the nearest metro station, and it might make you walk more than you have to.
Something to remember. It’s okay to get lost. In fact, you should enjoy getting lost. Of course, your safety is of the upmost importance, and your studies are the second most important, but seriously, explore a little. On the first day, a couple of my friends and I went all around a block looking for an ATM, but I didn’t mind all the times we had to walk back and forth because I got to take in this beautiful city. Some of the best experiences I have had thus far were the result of wandering around.
Looking back, these difficulties seem so minimal. Any problem I had enhanced my study abroad experience, and I can’t wait for whatever challenges are still in store for me.