Visa Photos

Many students right now are getting ready to go to the French Consulate this summer to obtain their visa for their up coming study abroad experience. In addition to having all your documents, having correct passport regulation photos is also key. Before going to the French consulate, I went to CVS to have my photos taken…just to have the consulate in NYC ask me to go have regulation photos taken and come back!

My passport photos were too dark. The standard is a color photograph, size 2 x 2 inches that is well lit on a white background within the past 6 months. Your ears should be showing and you can not have any hair clips/ barrettes or any other hair/head accessory visible. Go to a location that is knowledgeable and reputable with passport photos. For my recent passport renewal, I went to AAA. Do not be cheap like me and go to a store that just started doing them or a large chain store which serves several functions. It will cost you more in the long run! Ask your friends, family, or community center if they could recommend you a place in your  town that is known for following federal requirements for passport photos.

Just FYI – Your study abroad program does not assist you in getting passport photos for your visa. It’s also a good idea to look how you normally look. For example, if you normally wear minimal make-up, don’t glam up for your passport photos and same in reverse. The photo should be pretty close to how you look on a regular basis.

But the passport photos aren’t just for your visa. During my time in France, I also used the passport photos for my Navigo (public transportation) pass as well as for my carte de séjour. Having passport photos that fit regulation standards the first time around will not only save you money, it will save you time and hassle on your visa day and be useful for other things during your study abroad.

Passport visa budget: $5-10


Fun fact: Passport (EN) and Passeport (FR) are only different by 1 letter.


Bonne chance!


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Check out these Twenty in Paris Approved Articles on the Paris Study Abroad Experience

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I came across these 5 articles, each offering something unique about Paris, French culture or the study abroad experience. When preparing to study abroad, it is important to look up all types of information on any available source.

This first article is more along the lines of the typical ‘Yeah, I’m in Paris and I’m going on a food tour!” type blog but the student is doing something really neat by visiting and blogging about every district in Paris. There are 20 unique districts in Paris and It’s important to visit each one to get a better understanding and appreciation of the city.


The second article is an even worse blog than the 1st in the regard where it’s the perfect summer abroad in Paris, the student merely brushes over the experience of taking classes abroad, and goes right into all the food she’s eating. The only post of substance I could find was about a trip to Disneyland Paris which gives great insight into the European customs and culture on personal space, PDA, and helping strangers.


The third article is a video from Comme une Française- if you haven’t signed up for her free mailing list, you really need to! These videos are so helpful and fun about different aspects of French culture and language. This video is on 5 things that scare non-French people about French culture. Andrea’s tips- watch it and then know what to expect. Don’t be afraid of the differences! Remember , YOU are the new one, not the French.


Dating is something that I never cover on this blog- why? Because I have no experience dating abroad (and I’m not sure if my guest bloggers do). So when I find an article about an aspect of life abroad that I don’t go into (like dating), I get real excited to share it. Here is an article from My French Life about dating in France.


One area that we can never go too much into, is how to better learn French. It is the most important aspect to the Paris (or anywhere else in France) study abroad experience. If you’re not speaking and learning French, then you’re only having a superficial experience abroad. The French are extremely proud of their language. They are in love with it. To not speak it while staying there is considered disrespectful and will only distance you from the culture. This article from My French Life goes over the different types of learners to help you identify which one you are and how to make the most of that style when learning French.


Twenty in Paris Newsletter

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Did you know that Twenty in Paris has a free monthly email newsletter? All you have to do is sign up for it on the right  hand side bar in this section.


As I sent out June’s issue of the Twenty in Paris monthly newsletter, I thought I would show you what one looks like. It’s Free! So don’t forget to sign up to stay current on what’s going on with Twenty in Paris, French news and study abroad.


NEWS2Other than that, today is a day of writing and scrapbooking  :)


Going on Exchange: A Reflection on My Time with the French

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***Andrea’s note: For American students, going on exchange means study abroad

I remember being told that the first 3 months of studying abroad will be a rollercoaster of emotions. Month 1 will be filled with elation, month 2 culture shock and depression, month 3 a mixture of the two before eventually tapering off into some sense of stability. Although my feelings of homesickness never really went away I’ve come to realise that this was not an indication of me “failing” at exchange but a normal and inevitable part of how I’ll always feel, because it was all I had known for 21 years. Everything else, everything new like Lyon and French culture and living in Europe will always be experienced and felt in comparison to Australia. It will always be my reference point and once I accepted that, Lyon began to feel like a second home.

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I made an amazing group of friends through my language school program. I took a class that taught me about Lyon’s history and culture. I found that one café that I couldn’t live without. I think you know a place and its culture have changed you when you begin to appreciate the things about it that you don’t understand. I may still – and will probably always – make fun of the French administrative and bureaucratic system, the fact that the concept of personal space doesn’t exist and that when a French person tells you 7:00pm it really means sometime closer to 7:30pm, but I also find myself defending the French whenever people say something bad about them. Because in my 5 months here I’ve encountered their helpfulness and friendliness whenever I’ve asked for directions (which is most of the time); their willingness to speak English, their dry and self-deprecating sense of humour.

Next semester I’ll no longer be in a language school program with other international students but will instead start regular classes at Lyon 2, and even though the thought of having to sit in a lecture hall filled with hundreds of French students and scribble down notes from an indifferent professor gives me all forms of anxiety, at least I now know that under that reserved and unsmiling manner they’re really not that intimidating.

In the first week that I got to France, I wrote this: “I wonder if I’ll ever be able to love the French language like I do the English. If it’ll ever be more than grammar structures and verb conjugations, rules on a page that must be followed, predestined words placed carefully side by side. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to unpack it all, to take apart the rules and to find the meaningless meaning.”

Well, I’m 5 months, one creative writing class and a handful of French short stories later, I can say that I am on my way.


Cindy Hoang

Cindy is a Sydneysider currently completing her Communications and International Studies degree in Lyon, France. When she’s not on the hunt for a good and decently priced coffee, she blogs at The Sea Change and Insta-filters pictures of her food adventures. Her aim is to read an entire novel in French by the end of 2014.