Tag Archives: culture differences


Check out these Twenty in Paris Approved Articles on the Paris Study Abroad Experience

(photo by: bostinno.streetwise.co)

I came across these 5 articles, each offering something unique about Paris, French culture or the study abroad experience. When preparing to study abroad, it is important to look up all types of information on any available source.

This first article is more along the lines of the typical ‘Yeah, I’m in Paris and I’m going on a food tour!” type blog but the student is doing something really neat by visiting and blogging about every district in Paris. There are 20 unique districts in Paris and It’s important to visit each one to get a better understanding and appreciation of the city.



The second article is an even worse blog than the 1st in the regard where it’s the perfect summer abroad in Paris, the student merely brushes over the experience of taking classes abroad, and goes right into all the food she’s eating. The only post of substance I could find was about a trip to Disneyland Paris which gives great insight into the European customs and culture on personal space, PDA, and helping strangers.



The third article is a video from Comme une Française- if you haven’t signed up for her free mailing list, you really need to! These videos are so helpful and fun about different aspects of French culture and language. This video is on 5 things that scare non-French people about French culture. Andrea’s tips- watch it and then know what to expect. Don’t be afraid of the differences! Remember , YOU are the new one, not the French.



Dating is something that I never cover on this blog- why? Because I have no experience dating abroad (and I’m not sure if my guest bloggers do). So when I find an article about an aspect of life abroad that I don’t go into (like dating), I get real excited to share it. Here is an article from My French Life about dating in France.



One area that we can never go too much into, is how to better learn French. It is the most important aspect to the Paris (or anywhere else in France) study abroad experience. If you’re not speaking and learning French, then you’re only having a superficial experience abroad. The French are extremely proud of their language. They are in love with it. To not speak it while staying there is considered disrespectful and will only distance you from the culture. This article from My French Life goes over the different types of learners to help you identify which one you are and how to make the most of that style when learning French.



How to Pack for Studying Abroad- Part I: The Carry- On

Packing for studying abroad is quite challenging as you’re not packing for an ordinary 3 day weekend or week vacation but rather for a couple of month (or more) journey. Many students make the mistake of overpacking and leaving some critical things at home. Today’s video is the first official video for the Twenty in Paris YouTube Channel where we discuss what to bring in your carry-on. Stay tuned for Part II (coming soon) where we’ll go over what exactly to bring in your checked luggage. Part III will discuss what beauty items to bring with you and which ones should stay home and Part IV will show you packing tips to maximize the most out of any packing trip.


Was this video helpful? If so, give it a “bon” in the blue box below. Is there something that I can do better or is there another topic that you would like covered? Leave me a comment on this video at the  Twenty in Paris YouTube Channel. Merci!



The Divine Code

By: Andrea Bouchaud

With a title like that, of course I am referring to something biblical, right? Wrong. The French collegiate grading system is completely different than its American counterpart. Do not fear! Your study abroad program is well aware of this (refer to below photo) and they will work with you to ensure that you receive a grade that accurately reflects your intelligence and academic capabilities. Now let’s find out more about this divine code.

The divine code describes the French grading system. The French grading system is based on a system of twenty possible earned points, not one hundred. One would think that the maximum grade one can is earn is a 20/20; however this is not correct. My first day of class at the Sorbonne which really was not the first day of class for me is when I found out this information. Another American student advised me that the French grading system goes as follows: 20 is reserved for God, 19 for professors. This little vignette did not really make sense until a few days later when I was on the metro and saw an advertisement for a tutoring company. The ad showed a young man posing with a skeleton and holding a report card, a big smile on his face. He was tutored for a biology class, hence, the skeleton. The report card showed a 14,5/20 (the French use commas where we use decimal points). If you calculate that grade to the American equivalency, it means he earned a 73 in the American system. This grade is not something that would merit pride, but this boy was smiling- obviously elated that he was able to raise his grade in biology. It was at that moment that I realized that the theoretical grading system started at 20 but the “real” system that everyone bases the weight of their grade is 15.

When you are in France, it is important that you are not aiming for the highest possible grade in the grading system. It is nearly impossible to earn any grade above 15. Do not let this discourage you or encourage you to slack off. 15s are not given away like candy and they do have to be earned. Do your best and when you are struggling, reach out to French students in your class, your French professor and your Parisian program director for help.




My First Day in Paris

By: Andrea Bouchaud

First impressions count…or do they? After having traveled for over 6 hours, I finally landed in Paris, France. The place that I was going to be calling home for the next 10 months. Let’s take a look at what my first day in Paris was like.  Was your first day abroad similar? I’d love to hear from you!