Do you remember your first few days on campus? Did you ever get lost or confused as to where that English 101 class was before you were able to commit it to memory? Learning a new place is always hard the first few times until you get used it but how about learning a new city? It may seem like a daunting task but you do catch on after a while. There are tricks you can use to help you learn your way not only around Paris (or any other host city) but also how to find your new home abroad.
Paris is a great city because it has so many well known sites sprinkled throughout. For me, I had the pleasure of living in a supreme location. I was right down the street from the Louvre on the other side of the Seine River. I quickly discovered that if I could find the Louvre or the Seine, I could find my way home. It also doesn’t hurt that everyone knows where the Louvre is. It’s true that I did find myself in a funk only after 3 days in Paris but I did walk around my district, especially the area around the Seine for at least 1 hour every day. It was on these hourly walks that I familiarized myself with the surrounding area so that I would know how to get home.
You should do the same – and don’t just limit yourself to the streets around the main site. Make sure to explore every street in your district. Take your Paris Plan (a small, pocket sized map of Paris that breaks down every district into every street; these should be bought in Paris at any tobacco shop or newspaper stand) and explore! The goal is that you can enter into your district from any street/ any direction and be able to find your home without using a map or asking for help. Do you know in advance the address of your host family, dorm or apartment? If so, start looking up that district now and identifying your closest major monument to be your marker.