Tag Archives: can’t wait to leave Paris

How to Find Your Way Home Your First Few Weeks Abroad

Do you remember your first few days on campus? Did you ever get lost or confused as to where that English 101 class was before you were able to commit it to memory? Learning a new place is always hard the first few times until you get used it but how about learning a new city? It may seem like a daunting task but you do catch on after a while. There are tricks you can use to help you learn your way not only around Paris (or any other host city) but also how to find your new home abroad.

Paris is a great city because it has so many well known sites sprinkled throughout. For me, I had the pleasure of living in a supreme location. I was right down the street from the Louvre on the other side of the Seine River. I quickly discovered that if I could find the Louvre or the Seine, I could find my way home. It also doesn’t hurt that everyone knows where the Louvre is. It’s true that I did find myself in a funk only after 3 days in Paris but I did walk around my district, especially the area around the Seine for at least 1 hour every day. It was on these hourly walks that I familiarized myself with the surrounding area so that I would know how to get home.

You should do the same – and don’t just limit yourself to the streets around the main site. Make sure to explore every street in your district. Take your Paris Plan (a small, pocket sized map of Paris that breaks down every district into every street; these should be bought in Paris at any tobacco shop or newspaper stand) and explore! The goal is that you can enter into your district from any street/ any direction and be able to find your home without using a map or asking for help. Do you know in advance the address of your host family, dorm or apartment? If so, start looking up that district now and identifying your closest major monument to be your marker.



Visa Photos

Many students right now are getting ready to go to the French Consulate this summer to obtain their visa for their up coming study abroad experience. In addition to having all your documents, having correct passport regulation photos is also key. Before going to the French consulate, I went to CVS to have my photos taken…just to have the consulate in NYC ask me to go have regulation photos taken and come back!

My passport photos were too dark. The standard is a color photograph, size 2 x 2 inches that is well lit on a white background within the past 6 months. Your ears should be showing and you can not have any hair clips/ barrettes or any other hair/head accessory visible. Go to a location that is knowledgeable and reputable with passport photos. For my recent passport renewal, I went to AAA. Do not be cheap like me and go to a store that just started doing them or a large chain store which serves several functions. It will cost you more in the long run! Ask your friends, family, or community center if they could recommend you a place in your  town that is known for following federal requirements for passport photos.

Just FYI – Your study abroad program does not assist you in getting passport photos for your visa. It’s also a good idea to look how you normally look. For example, if you normally wear minimal make-up, don’t glam up for your passport photos and same in reverse. The photo should be pretty close to how you look on a regular basis.

But the passport photos aren’t just for your visa. During my time in France, I also used the passport photos for my Navigo (public transportation) pass as well as for my carte de séjour. Having passport photos that fit regulation standards the first time around will not only save you money, it will save you time and hassle on your visa day and be useful for other things during your study abroad.

Passport visa budget: $5-10


Fun fact: Passport (EN) and Passeport (FR) are only different by 1 letter.


Bonne chance!


visa meme




The Many Faces of Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is an emotional journey. You’ll have great days, bad days and everything in between. Here’s a look at some of my favorite study abroad faces. Do you have a study abroad face that you want to share? Tweet it to me @twentyinparis with hashtag #studyabroadface



many faces

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