5 Tips for Introverts Studying Abroad in Paris

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1-      Don’t concentrate on the bigness of Paris or studying abroad. Before coming to Paris, I lived in Philadelphia for 2 years. I was accustomed to city life but was not used to being in a place that I didn’t know where anything was or anyone. I was extremely overwhelmed my first week in Paris and spent most of it indoors. What I should’ve done and what I recommend you to do is walk. Don’t care where to or how long. Just walk. When introverts are feeling overpowered in a new environment, it’s best to get your mind off all the newness. Walking is a great way to let your mind wind down thanks to the rapidly changing streets/sights, having to pay attention to cars and crossing the street, and having all the blood pumping through your body. The final location is not important; in fact, it’s probably best if you don’t have one. It will allow the city to guide you to discover some place new which will certainly take your mind off being overwhelmed and help you to make a new connection to the host city.


(le Louvre is just an example of how big Paris can be- photo by Andrea)

2-      Give yourself credit. If you’re like me, you’re your own worst critic. Even when I do something great, I don’t give myself props because I expect more of myself. This is good and bad. It’s good because it means that you are constantly pushing yourself to be a better you. It’s bad because you can get frustrated with thinking you never do anything good which is not true. You don’t have to be cocky but don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back for moving 6,000 miles away from everything and everyone you’ve ever known to a place where the culture and language are completely different. Just to be able to go through the registration process and get your French visa shows you have what it takes to make it through this experience.


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3-      Put up notes of encouragement in your room. I went through a lot of emotional changes after college. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if I didn’t have reminder notes that the world is not going to end because I am in emotional turmoil. My post-college apartment bedroom had notes on the wall right next to my bed where I would see them everyday telling me “leave yesterday in the past”, “holding onto anger is only hurting you” and my personal favorite “only a fool does the same thing twice and expects different results.” Had I thought of this during my time in Paris, my notes would’ve read “I have to change for this experience, not the French”, “Discover 1 new thing I like about Paris every day- no exception!” , “Vent to Mme (the program director) about the difficult time I’m having adapting to French culture- don’t keep it in!”, and “10 months goes fast- take every new opportunity no matter what Tatie will think”. Actually, I would’ve had many more notes than that but those ones are a good start. They don’t have to be anything fancy; a Post-It® note will do just fine. The key is that it needs to be in a place where you see it every day in your room. Don’t put it in your phone- it should be something physical that you write to better drive home the point. These are just some examples but you know you best- put whatever you need on the note to motivate you. If that doesn’t work, just message me and I’ll gladly help :)


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4-      Go against your gut, introvert feeling. As introverts, we sometimes hold ourselves back in a new situation because it’s unfamiliar, we’re uncomfortable and we may start to feel overwhelmed. This is exactly the time to do something new! The only way we can grow as individuals is to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. You know what I’m talking about- like when you see that French student in class who recently cut her hair and you really like it, go up to her and say “Quelle belle coupe!” Maybe this will spark a conversation or at least a recommendation for a coiffeuse (hair stylist). Don’t just notice it privately and run out of class to go back home as usual. Or if you’re talking to someone and they mention something they do with friends, ask if you can come along. It may not be an out and out invite but sometimes inviting yourself is the way to go. This is probably one of the hardest things for introverts to do- to go against our gut, introvert feeling to keep things they way they are. It is tough. But you must push. Every time you have a thought like “I wonder where she got her hair cut” is an excellent opportunity to challenge your comfort zone. You can only gain from these pushes so go for it!

5-      It’s ok to revel in your introvertedness. These tips aren’t meant to change your introvertedness; rather, we’re challenging it. After studying abroad in Paris and grabbing every new opportunity, you’ll still be an introvert who prefers smaller company or alone time rather than going out in large crowds. But don’t challenge yourself out. If you’re feeling extra introverted one day, take that day to be alone and do a solo activity. It’s your mind’s way of saying it needs a break to process all the new things you’ve been doing. This is perfectly natural and a great way to give yourself credit for the challenges you’ve taken on and reflect on what you’ve learned or how you’ve grown from them. So go ahead, relax introvert and stay in- you deserve it!

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Are you an introvert who’s interested in studying abroad but previous talks with your folks haven’t gone so well? Find out how to approach this topic for a guaranteed successful conversation and gain your parents’ support for this experience with new mini guide book An Introvert’s Guide to Talking Study Abroad With Their Parents- out now!


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