By: Andrea Bouchaud
Twitter and I have a love-hate relationship. For years, I said that I would never join Twitter. There was no appeal for me to read or to tweet the random thoughts that pop into my head. I also avoided all social media except for Model Mayhem during my hobby modeling days in college due to a bad MySpace experience. Here’s my quick MySpace story: I signed up and the first friend request person sent me a message that made me uncomfortable so I deleted the friend status. Apparently MySpace alerted him of his defunct relationship with me and inspired this person to email me directly and ask me why I was canceling his friend status. I quickly issued a technical issue excuse, re-accepted the friend request and quickly canceled my account. This all went down in less than 5 days.
Fast forward 6 years and I just finished writing and publishing Twenty in Paris: A Young American Perspective of Studying Abroad in Paris. I realized that social media is key in reaching people and promoting. I needed to get on the grid asap although I did have anxiety attacks for 2 weeks straight after signing up for all my online accounts. Why I was uneasy about being on the grid? The internet to me is exactly like that Dave Chapelle skit where he makes the Internet a real place which is not a place that you really want to go to. What I did not realize is how much great information on studying abroad and living in any city/country can be found on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. There are articles that I found on Twitter that I would not have thought to look for on Google or wouldn’t have necessarily showed up in the first few pages. Articles so good that I have gone on to post them on blogs, other websites and other social media outlets.
If you are studying abroad (or even just traveling), you need to check out Twitter. It’s as simple as searching for #studyabroad or #paris and you will find a plethora of information that is quick, useful and fun by people who are: a) native to that county , b) have lived in that country, c) currently live in that country. What also makes Twitter neat is that you can find not only tips/ news/ advice on the country you want to study abroad in, you can read them from a person of your native country who has experience in that host country which makes it more relatable. There are lots of Twitter accounts of Brits in France and Americans in France as well as French people in American cities which tailor advice and tips to that particular native nationality. Facebook also posts a lot of great articles (often from Twitter). If you follow a company or person on twitter, also be sure to like their Facebook page so that you can keep current with news/ tips/ ideas or simply inspirational images and quotes from them.
Social media sites like Twitter are a fountain of great information for study abroad students and should be used in the preparation for this experience. But don’t stop there! Keeping a social media presence while abroad is a great way to keep family and friends up to date as well as help students who are going to be studying abroad for the next semester. Until next time, keep on tweeting.
By: Andrea Bouchaud
When I first arrived in Paris, I stayed with Tatie (my great aunt) for the first week in her apartment as the studio I was supposed to be staying in did not have a bed. Tatie’s apartment was not a typical Parisian apartment. It was huge!! Talk about a beautiful apartment. It had an actual kitchen, a bathroom complete with tub and shower curtain, a water closet, a bedroom, a dining room, a gigantic living room, and an all purpose space complete with window views over a courtyard. Did I mention that this apartment was a skip away from the Pont du Carousel and the Louvre? Sweeeet!
Tatie owned the studio I stayed in during my time studying abroad in Paris which was less than 2 blocks away from her apartment. For my first week in Paris, I lived in a palace compared to the shoe box that I called home for 10 months. Finally, we got a bed that was as hard as a prison cot and I started staying in the studio, full-time. It was then that I discovered how inadequate its bathroom facilities were. The studio bathroom was equipped with a shower curtain-less bathtub with a hand-held shower, a sink and a small linen closet door which led to the toilet. My first day in the tub/shower I flooded the bathroom by spraying water all over the floor when trying to maneuver the hand held shower.
While I was flooding the bathroom, I was also hitting my head on the water heater which hung over half the length of the tub. The next day, I tried this shower thing again- with the same results. And the next day and the day after that. About 5 attempts later, I realized that there is no sane way to take a shower in this set up without getting water everywhere or getting a concussion from bumping my head on the water heater. In retrospect, I realize that the logical step for me would have been to go to the store and buy a shower curtain and rod (although that would not have fixed the water heater- head bumping problem) but I didn’t. I just couldn’t believe that someone would own a living space and not have a shower curtain and my disbelief led me to find an alternate solution.
How did I keep clean for 10 months if I didn’t shower? I washed my hair in the tub, washed up at the sink during the week and took baths on the weekend. I technically wasn’t pulling a Louis XIV but it was pretty close. I didn’t have a physical shower where water runs over your entire body at once and there isn’t the threat of a head injury literally hanging over your head for 10 months. One of the first things I did back in the USA was to take a really long shower. It was like heaven. To my knowledge, I was the only person in my program who had this shower issue. However, you will be hard pressed to find an American sized bathroom with really modern facilities in Paris. Just remember that the average building in Paris is over 400 years old and a building that old was not meant to house indoor plumbing. And if you can’t shower for your time abroad, do the logical thing …..buy a shower curtain and rod.
By: Andrea Bouchaud
At least that’s what the French government and CGT (France’s most powerful and largest union) want you to think. The make up giant has a store on the Champs Elysées which gets a lot of traffic and they want to increase their revenue by increasing working hours to keep the store open later as well as being open on Sundays- currently this is not allowed by French labor laws. This story was covered in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Karine Barzegar. I always encourage students to follow the news of the country they are going to be studying abroad in for at least 6 months prior to leaving to keep on top of current cultural issues. This article shows that major stores are not open on Sunday and students will need to do all shopping Monday- Saturday. The fact that the article talked about CGT means that strikes will probably be occuring if they aren’t already. Keeping abreast of the news is a great way to be prepared culturally which will only help your to transition smoother and quicker to a new way of doing things and thinking.
By: Andrea Bouchaud
I came across this great article by Jennifer Bourne, a native French woman living in the USA, about the differences between the way the French and Americans shop. A fascinating and fun article and a must read for all travelers and students going to France. Check it out at How the French shop different from Americans