Alexa’s Study Abroad Journal: Prioritizing Paris

(photo courtesy of Alexa)

After a wonderfully exhausting hike through Duke Farms this afternoon, I sat down with my mom and talked her through the next steps of the study abroad application. I think I scared her.

This “Program Application Page (Post-Decision)” is daunting, to say the least. There are material submissions: two course equivalency forms, a physician’s medical information form and a second-phase application packet. The course equivalency forms must be approved by the Journalism and Media Studies department and the French department at Rutgers, because that’s my major and minor, respectively. I need to access the SciencesPo website, find old syllabi for classes “that sound like they might be relevant,” and jot down their titles on a piece of paper. Then, the heads of each department will initial, signing off on the classes. This is the only way I’ll get credit that counts toward my Journalism major and French minor. The physician’s medical information form should be completed “within a month” of acceptance according to the study abroad website, but Lauren encouraged me to finish that within the next two weeks. Well, it’s already been a week. Thankfully, my mother is a nurse and can probably swing something soon. As for the second-phase application packet, I am still waiting for “an email from the SciencesPo International Office … containing details on the online application procedure.” I do know, though, that once I receive the email, I’ll need to physically submit the following to the Center for Global Education office at Rutgers: a copy of the identification page of my passport, a CV (that’s the resume-ish document) and one passport-sized photo. This also needs to be done two weeks after my initial acceptance.

I’ve been enrolled in a “Health and Safety Orientation” class online. The Center for Global Education mandates this for all study abroaders. The information is outlined in nine units:

1. Be informed

2. Taking care of your health

3. Personal safety

4. Travel safety

5. Drugs and alcohol

6. Contextualizing culture

7. Gender and LGBTQ identity

8. Responding to emergencies

9. Wrap up

After I teach myself each unit, I am required to take a quiz to document my competency in the outlined area. I must score 100% on each unit assessment in order to complete the class. Each unit takes about half an hour to complete. I need to finish the class before May 3.

There’s also a portion of the Program Application Page called Study Abroad Housing Information. This page requests the housing name, address, phone number and email address. But, I will be housed temporarily on the SciencesPo campus for the first ten days of classes. After that, I’ll be on my own. Apartment hunting will be an adventure in and of itself. I’m not sure what to write for that part of the application.

After taking a closer look at the page labeled Financial Planning Worksheet, my mom basically told me to rethink everything. Housing will be ridiculously expensive in France, about double what she assumed it would be. Extra expenses in general, per year, will probably add up to over $10,000 on top of my tuition. This may not be feasible. At least, not in the way I thought it was. My mom wondered aloud if studying abroad at a different school might require less work. I hadn’t seriously thought about that until now.

So, not only do I have a lot to do, I have a very short time frame to do it in, and I may be reconsidering the length of my stay. I have a lot to think about, as usual. I’m not sure if I’m writing this for anyone’s sake or sanity but my own.

This is only about a quarter of what the application entails. More next week, after I’ve hopefully gotten some of the big chunks out of the way. Prioritizing, commence.


Alexa Wybraniec

Alexa studies journalism, media and French at Rutgers University. She is abroad at Sciences Po for her third year of college. Check back every other Monday for a new post and connect on Twitter.