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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 www.tiki-toki.com)

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 en.wikipedia.org)

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!


Are you a part of Generation Study Abroad?

(All photos by IIE)

A few weekends ago, I went to San Antonio to meet some fellow study abroad enthusiasts at the ACTFL (American Council for Teaching Foreign Language) conference. It was a great conference and I had the pleasure to connect with many passionate, global focused individuals. My favorite part of the conference was meeting Stacie Berdan and the IIE (Institute of International Education) group and attending their panel discussion about Generation Study Abroad. Generation study abroad is an initiative created by IIE to increase global competence among American students through a global centric educational curriculum which focuses on studying abroad. One of the ways they hope to achieve this is to increase the number of American students studying abroad. At first glance, it may seem that IIE is just trying to boost numbers for the sake of getting results but this couldn’t be father from the truth.


The focus on increasing the amount of students going abroad is about ensuring every future American worker is on the same level of global preparedness. For years, the world came to the United States to do business so everyone else had to learn English. But things have changed. We have become more globalized and we’re finding that we have to speak other people’s languages now in order to remain competitive in business. But becoming global isn’t just a money thing; it’s also a great way to help keep our nation safe, make and keep new allies, and become more accepting and innovating individuals. By being global, we can find allies easier due to already knowing which cultures/countries share our same cultural values and have ease in communication / interaction with them by knowing their language and customs; we can keep our country safe by knowing what countries don’t share our values through global education; we learn how to work with others’ differences and not judge them because they are different; and we can be more innovative due to our experience with other cultures and knowing different ways to do things.


Increasing the amount of students going abroad is only a part of the global pie; the other major part is adequately preparing students to go abroad. Preparation starts here at home. I’m on board (and super pleased) with IIE’s goal to work with study abroad programs to stop marketing study abroad as a vacation with the occasional class in between trips and to show it for what it is; an educational, professional and personal growth opportunity while immersing into another language and culture. Twenty In Paris joined Generation study abroad to boldly go where study abroad has never gone before. Are you with us?


Help Twenty in Paris Become the Best Paris Study Abroad Website

(photo by: myslbc.org)

Over the past few months, I have received some great feedback from many of you regarding the Twenty in Paris website. I haven’t forgotten about your recommendations, in fact, I really want to tailor this site to your expectations and needs. Your tips have really been a great start but to really make Twenty in Paris the best Paris study abroad site, I need to find out some more information from you. This is your chance to have hands-on input to really make this website what you want it to be so that it can best help you prepare for the amazing journey that is living and studying in Paris at the age of 20. So how can your opinion be heard? Fill out the 10 question survey below. You can complete the survey anonymously but readers who sign up for the Twenty in Paris newsletter on the survey (it’s the “Subscribe” box in the right hand side) will be entered in to win a chance for a free copy of Twenty in Paris: A Young American Perspective of Studying Abroad in Paris + the 2 decorative Paris papers below- a great way to dress up your dorm room for FREE!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.


***Decorative Papers are 27.5″ (Width) x 19.5″ (Height) – perfect for framing, using as a desk liner, a window shade decoration or even a lamp shade pattern.



Merci bcp!


5 Signs Your Medical Condition is Too Serious to Study Abroad

 (photo by: eogroup.biz)

Deciding that studying abroad is right for you is a big decision, especially when it comes to your health. Most students don’t think their health or medication regimen has anything to do with their study abroad choice but it does. There are articles online telling students to go abroad at any cost but I think it’s important to acknowledge when studying abroad isn’t worth risking your health. Let’s take a look at 5 signs your medical condition should keep you at home.

1)      You have to get blood work monthly: Some medical conditions require constant monitoring with you going to a lab every month for blood work. Trying to squeeze lab work abroad between classes and figuring out the host culture/language would be a nightmare on your schedule. It would also be extremely difficult to try to coordinate with your health insurance to pay a foreign lab on a monthly basis, not to mention could be pricey too if you have to pay out of pocket each time before your insurance could reimburse you or the lab. Remember, you are not eligible for universal healthcare in the host country as a foreign student, especially if you are not working there.

2)      You have to visit your doctor monthly: Do you visit your doctor every month for a check up on your condition? If so, this is a good indication that studying abroad is probably not right for you. Your program may be able to recommend a physician abroad or there may even be one on campus but remember this doctor is not familiar with you and your history. You would have to start from the very beginning with this new doctor and bring your entire medical file with you (it may even need to be translated). If your medical condition needs to be monitored closely, it’s a good idea to stay close to the doctor who knows you best.

3)      You take medication intravenously: Bringing your Rx with you abroad can be tricky but it can be even trickier if it’s an intravenous medication. If the thought of you being interrogated by TSA and foreign customs on the syringe in your bag isn’t bad enough, think about how you will maintain your medication abroad. Some intravenous medication needs to be kept refrigerated which is not ideal when you’re sharing a super tiny fridge with strangers who speak a different language. If this is how you take your medication, please talk with your program coordinator, your doctor as well as visit travel.state.gov for more information to determine if your medication is allowed in the country and if there are any pill alternatives.

syringe(photo by:www.onclive.com)

4)      Your condition just got out of remission: Anyone who has ever gone through remission of their medical condition can tell you that you’re not quite out of the woods. Remission means that you still have to be monitored closely by your doctor as well as have follow-up tests to ensure that you stay on the path to permanent recovery. If you’re overseas, it will be hard for your doctor to help you stay healthy.

5)      Stress can trigger an attack: The experience of transitioning into a new culture, language, college experience, a city environment or living with a host family can be stressful. If your condition can be affected by stress to cause an attack, a relapse, or any medical problems/ complications, you may need to rethink studying abroad.

The best way to find out if studying abroad is right for your health is to ask your doctor. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity but so is your life! It’s important to not risk your health. If your doctor deems your medical condition ok for going overseas, you should wear a bracelet at all times that briefly details your medical condition, your medication name and dose (generic and brand), your doctor’s name and contact info, and allergies. Please list this information in English and the host language. It’s also a good idea to give your program director abroad this information so that someone abroad has it in the event of an emergency.