french revolution

My battle with My Comfort Zone

(ok so Lady Liberty wasn’t rushing in and there weren’t hundreds of French soldiers but it’s still a battle. Photo by

There is nothing more intimate and personal than our comfort zone. It is a place where we feel safe, where we are safe. It is a place that, as its name suggests, makes us feel comfortable. It is a constant in the ever changing variable that is life. Despite its comfy-ness and safety, I’m always recommending you to leave it when you’re preparing for your study abroad. Since studying abroad is all about doing everything in a different way, it only makes sense to get uncomfortable by leaving your comfort zone so that you can become comfortable with constant change once you arrive abroad. I can tell you from personal experience that if you go abroad not expecting to change, it can be quite jarring to realize that you’re going to have to do it whether you want to or not. So it’s better to be at ease with changing by leaving your comfort zone. But it’s not just for studying abroad. I didn’t realize it when I was in college but once you leave your comfort zone, you find out there is a whole new arena for opportunity and experiences. When I was in college, I was Queen Bee of the Comfort Zone. I only ever rarely left and when I did “leave” it, I was never completely out as there was always a toe still in the line. Studying abroad not only pushed me out of my comfort zone, it brutally forced me out. For that I am grateful as it gave me the courage and determination I needed to do other things and branch out in life. But that doesn’t mean that I live outside of the comfort zone; rather, it means that I have adjusted my comfort zone parameters.

Leg_restraint01_2003-06-02(Restraint so good…sometimes. But it’s best to not be in them in the first place. Photo by

I got a reality check on my comfort zone boundaries over the weekend at a post Christmas bash. It was a pleasant enough soirée chez le chef of my better half. Maybe it was due to hunger or a drop in estrogen due to my impending regles but what I can tell you is that when I saw a new face, I ran away. And since I only knew a few people there, I was running away most of the evening. Sometimes, someone would stop me to say hi and introduce themselves. I returned the introduction, smiled and then scadoodled away. I was completely overwhelmed. The boss’ house was a decent sized home but it felt awfully cramped with 70 people in it. Everywhere I looked there was an unfamiliar face. I had plenty of opportunity to strike up new conversations but I didn’t. I was out of my comfort zone and I wanted nothing more than to be back in it. This party was the perfect opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and I didn’t take it. The entire time at the party, I wished that I wasn’t letting myself be restrained by my old friend CZ (that’s the comfort zone).  But I didn’t go with the right attitude to this party. I didn’t go with an inquisitive and open mind; I went with an empty stomach and fatigue. Leaving your comfort zone is great practice not only for studying abroad, but for life. You never know what opportunities can come your way. That’s why it’s best to be prepared to put yourself out there, way outside of the comfort zone, at any time, anywhere, by practicing. Practice makes perfect and if you’re always doing something new than you can never truly be comfortable. And that is when you find true success.

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Bonne chance!

Prepared Not Unprepared

4 Ways to Prepare for Study Abroad Cultural and Linguistic Immersion

(photo by

There are a lot of steps you have to take to get ready for your up-coming study abroad. You need to register with a program, get a student visa, work with your student loan companies to cover your tuition, and prepare for cultural and linguistic immersion. However, many American students aren’t doing the last part and not every program is guiding students on how to do this. From someone who did no preparation for the experience aspect of studying abroad, I can tell you that this can come back to bite you in the derrière. You spend all this time choosing the right program and preparing all your paperwork for the visa, why not spend just as much time preparing for cultural and linguistic immersion? Cultural and linguistic immersion are the very essence of the study abroad experience. Without it, you’re probably having a vacation with books and you could’ve done that for a lot cheaper than paying for a study abroad. Just like finding a program and preparing to get your student visa, the prep work for cultural and linguistic immersion takes time. Six months to be exact; at least, that’s my recommended time frame.

This video is what I call a note worthy video. Meaning you should be taking notes while you’re watching it. The Twenty in Paris team watched it and told me that it’s too long. “Students like to receive information in short, fun bursts”, they told me. They might be right on that but I couldn’t help but be perturbed by this observation. My rationale is that if you can’t take 9 minutes to watch a video on cultural and linguistic immersion tips, how can you ever have the patience to do the daily work needed before and once your abroad? Studying abroad isn’t a walk in Champs de Mars, so neither will be its preparation. But your preparation perseverance will pay off in the long run.


Bonne chance!

- Andrea


All Grown Up Now

At some point in life, we all have to grow up. For me, the last part to grow up was my dishes. I had a hodpodge of dishes that I’ve accumulated over the years based on my tastes. Skull plates for sandwiches and desserts, Paris plates for dinner, Paris bowls highlighting all the major sites of the city for my breakfast and Star Trek cups. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see when we need to take that plunge into the final stages of adulthood. Thankfully, our loved ones know and give us that much needed push. This Christmas, I got that push in the form of new dishes. It’s really nice to look in my cupboard and see nice, new, matching dishes staring back at me instead of the eclectic collection I had before. So it’s out with the old and in with the new. Goodbye to the last remnants of 20 year old Andrea who loved skulls and Paris themed dishes and hello to the new grown up me.

(Here’s the new dishes)

new bowls

(I’m really gonna miss these)

skull plates 2

(I always knew I was getting to the end of my breakfast when I could see la tour Eiffel peeking through)

paris bowl  1 paris bowl 2(We shared many great meals together)

paris plates 2

(These are staying though. You didn’t really think I was all grown up now, did you?  :p)

fart cups 2