Category Archives: Blog


Study Abroad- Discover the World and a New Home

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As the Twenty in Paris newsletter is currently on hiatus, I’m bringing the “Ask a Pro” section to you here on the Twenty in Paris blog. I sat down with study abroad extraordinaire, Elsa Thomasma, from to learn more about studying abroad. Here’s what she had to say:

I wish someone would have told me that anyone can study abroad, literally anyone, majoring in any subject, with any amount of experience. And also, that there are programs of varying lengths all over the world, and even scholarships to help you pay for it! If I would have known it was possible to take my general education courses in another country, I would have jumped at the chance (and you should too).

Luckily, I did find out in time and I was able to take advantage of my own opportunity to go abroad. At the end of my third year of university, I talked to my academic advisor about my desire to complete my practicum degree requirement abroad and he suggested I contact my study abroad office to see if it would be possible. I did so immediately and the answer was yes!

During my final year of university, my study abroad office helped me spend an entire semester interning and volunteering with a non governmental organization in the Philippines, while earning academic credit! Did I mention I was a full time student that whole semester AND I graduated in 4 years? Not long after graduation I returned to the Philippines as a full time intern with the same organization and shortly after I got a job at a local company; I’ve been living and working in the Philippines ever since.

Studying abroad is not a one time opportunity to earn academic credit, it is an opportunity for you to shape your future, your career, and your life. The best part is, study abroad is possible for anyone; just start looking through programs and you will find one that is perfect for you. Start your search with

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How to Make the Most of Paris for your Paris Study Abroad

Bonjour à tous,

I feel like a super schmuck with a capital S for being away for so long. I’m still in my funk, but have the added bonus of making a movie! It’s a documentary that I’m making for my job. I’m really excited with the content I got and am feverishly working on it to make a final product for its due date of June 26th…which means that I am going to be super MIA for June. As writer, director, light and sound grips, and editor, I don’t have any free time for writing or the Twenty in Paris newsletter. Again, I know super schmuck, but I need a second me to be able to do all the things I used to do plus the new skills I’m learning.

So enough about me, how about Paris! Instead of featuring it in the newsletter, I’m bringing the Twenty in Paris newsletter section of “Ask a Pro” to you. Here’s my favorite American expat in Paris, Melissa from Prête-Moi Paris on the importance (and utter joy) of learning to speak French while you call France home.

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My number one advice for those who want to live in France, whether it’s for a few months or a few years, or more : make all attempts to speak the language. I can’t stress enough how mastering the language helps you integrate better and faster. Dare to speak, dare to sound like an idiot, dare to communicate, it is the best way to feel at home here. I also recommend making just a couple of really good French friends. No need for a whole crowd of them, because talking one-on-one with someone in French will be easier than trying to keep up with a group conversation at first, and creating a bond with someone on that level will be a better way to make a friendship that lasts. You’ll find yourself in situations often where you feel like a wallflower, or an ignorant sore thumb, or someone that everyone seems to treat like you don’t know anything; this is because you lack the language skills and cultural knowledge to contribute anything meaningful. Be a sponge, soak it all in, even though you have lost your sense of humor because of the language barrier. It will come back with practice! Never, ever miss an opportunity to integrate and learn more about this country you have chosen to live in. The rewards will be lifelong!

Don’t forget to follow Prete-moi Paris on all its SM sites!


Where’s Twenty in Paris?

(Top photo by All other photos by Andrea)

I’ve been MIA lately. Ok, let’s be honest, it’s been a lot more than lately. More like since January 1, 2015. So where has Twenty in Paris been? Everywhere, no where, and in between. 2015 has turned out to be an extremely odd and growing pain year for me. Out of respect for my company as well as not participating in the millennial trend of trash talking on the internet, I won’t go into all the details. But, let’s just say I was thrown a curveball in my annual performance review that profoundly and negatively impacted me for over 4 months. Coupled with that curveball, I’ve been absolutely clueless about how to keep all you TIPsters informed and interested in studying abroad. I am against posting merde which is why I’m not posting as much; it’s also felt really good to unlpug for such a long time. So what have I been doing? Brainstorming, beefing up my Adobe creating/editing skills, making friends, making directorial debuts, and enjoying being a homeowner. I hope that this internet/writing funk ends soon. But in the meantime, don’t hesitate to ask for a particular topic to be covered or video to be made via a tweet. I love to hear from you!

house1 (Here’s a picture of super huge snail I found in my jardin while déraciner une plante)

house 2(portrait d’un potager... or freshly washed veggies!)


Universal Translators: The Future’s Gift or Curse for Language Junkies?

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I’m a big Trekkie. Not so big that I’m willing to drop $5,000 to buy the Captain’s Chair weekend package for the annual Las Vegas Star Trek Convention, plus what I’d spend on a universe accurate costume, but big enough. What I love about Star Trek is that it paints a more optimistic future for the human race. One where there is no more poverty, starvation; where you can pursue any dream because there aren’t things like money or bigotry to keep you from being the best person you want to be (or at least on future Earth. Other planets are a different story). Plus there are some gorgeous alien men. The one thing that really bugs me about this adventurous, idyllic future for us terriens  is that no one has to learn a foreign language anymore. Why not? Because of a pesky thing called a universal translator.

IMG_20130330_112052_820(Proof of Trekki-ness. Here I am as Seven of Nine with Data)

The universal translator has gone through many versions. First, it was as a Hitachi Wand looking thing and part of the ship’s comm system. Then it was either an earpiece or an internal piece implanted in the brain (it isn’t too clear) à la Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Although I understand how useful it is when you meet a new species to be able to communicate with them immediately, but it always bugged me. The universal translator took away the need to learn a foreign language in the 24th century. For a foreign language junkie, this is incredibly stinky! It’s the one thing that I don’t like about the Star Trek universe. A language is so telling about a culture and it’s a key point in learning about another group of people. Using a machine to translate is never completely accurate. If you don’t believe me, try using Google Translate to see how it doesn’t work well; just make sure you don’t use it on your French homework.

trek(First incarnation of the universal translator. photo by

I’ve often wondered how many cultural nuances would be lost in translation by using a device such as the universal translator. I had almost given up on the joy of foreign language learning in the 24th century, until recently watching an episode of Enterprise. Enterprise is the last Star Trek TV series made that ran in the early 2000s. The show is supposed to be a prologue to the entire Star Trek universe. It traces the very first deep space assignment. What was a pleasant surprise in this otherwise dull show is a scene in the mess hall between the ship’s doctor and the communication officer. The communications officer (CO) was learning and practicing the doctor’s native language. He is a different species. It was a fantastic scene as she was not using the then brand new technology of the universal translator. This CO was actually speaking and making mistakes in a foreign language. It was such a joy to my inner language nerd to see this scene. It was in watching this scene that I realized why I enjoyed it so much. In the future, the solution to miscommunication is not better teaching techniques and access to native speakers, it’s to eliminate learning a foreign language altogether.

ds9crew(Different species means different language and cultures. photo by

As a foreign language enthusiast, I believe that a universal translator is a curse and not a gift to the future. I can only hope that this blog post somehow, someway gets into a database in the 22nd century and helps people realize the importance of foreign language learning in connecting with new alien people and cultures. To boldly go where no one has gone before doesn’t just refer to space travel; it can also refer to the experience of speaking new and alien languages.