Tag Archives: expectations


Ten Tips for Being Twenty in Paris

(all photos by Dinara- featured photo is Opéra in Paris)

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.” These are famous words by Ernest Hemingway and they are so true for the writer and anyone else who has been lucky to visit this breathtaking city. I visited Paris last summer for a language school. So, I want to share some practical tips if you want to make your dream true and learn French in France, feel the magic of Paris and the stylish life. It is also a little story of our trip.

1. Keep dreaming. I started learning French in September. The beauty of the language, magnificent images, texts you read… Then I came up with the idea that I could go to Paris and hear not only the authentic language, but also be a part of the lifestyle, the culture. I even forgot about this dream but by summer and it felt like a miracle when I got the chance. As Walt Disney said “Many of the things that seem impossible now will become realities tomorrow.”

2. Do everything yourself. When I started searching for a language school, I turned to education consultancies. They calculated that two weeks in France would cost me around $1,800 just for the school. So, you can imagine, why it sounded to me almost impossible first. I started googling, e-mailing and comparing the prices. Then, I found a school for just 80€ a week.

3. Visa and flights. This was the most complicated part for me, but I hope I was an exception. If you are going to Paris to study and you need a visa, the best way is to apply for student visa. But most of the schools do not provide visa support unless you buy a course longer than three months. If this is not a case you can always apply for tourist visa, follow the instructions on the French Embassy’s web page and cross your fingers.

4. Language school. I was lucky to get enrolled into the Campus Langue, which has two buildings. One in La Défense and another one in the 19ème district. It seemed so far away, the 19ème one, but with the metro made it all very easy. The school is very welcoming, enrollment was super easy and we started our first class 20 minutes after enrollment. The best thing about learning French in France is that you have most diverse students and you can make friends and listen to the languages in all the accents.

5. Make friends. The more you talk to new people, the more confident you become in practicing French. I’ve been talking to my classmates, people on the street, serviceman in restaurants and shops. And also if you make friends with Parisians, the city will open totally different sides for you. I’ve been lucky to stay with locals and on weekends have perfect Parisian guides.

6. Be polite. In France people in customer service are easily offended. Make sure you say Merci, Excusez-moi and other polite phrases as much as possible. It was so embarrassing when a lady in supermarket pointed at me when I forgot to even say Bonjour before asking the way out, I was truly lost, though.

7. One place a day. I came to Paris with my friend and luckily we had the same interests and same pace. Some people say that you can walk around Paris in one day. But if you do so, you will not feel the real taste of this city. We decided to visit one area per day. That’s how we watched a concert next to Notre Dame, the parade in Champs-Élysées, sunset from Sacré Cœur, flowers in Jardin de Luxembourg, fountains in Versailles… You feel yourself somehow become a part of this city; a Parisian when you can afford to spend a whole day in one area, enjoying the spirit of it in an idle way.

sacre coeur

(view of Paris from Sacré Coeur)

8. New experience.  We also had a habit of trying new things every day. After classes we usually shared classical French la formule lunches, trying out all the dishes we’ve been learning about at school: Foie Gras de Canard, Cassoulet, Escargots, Ratatouille, Tartines, Crème Brûlée, Mousse ou Chocolat.

9. Do shopping. Shopping in Paris is a dream. My universal tip for shopping anywhere is: don’t miss the chance to buy something when you first see it. Often we thing that we might come back to that street or that shop and buy it later, but it never happens. So, the best way is to buy when you feel a sparkle. My favorite place for shopping was Seine riverbank so far and around Hôtel de Ville.


(Parisians shopping)

10. Take back memories. Travel around. Going to the countryside is always inspiring and gives a totally different angle to the country. France has so many beautiful provinces to discover. This time we visited Mont Saint Michel and a few resorts in Bretagne, including the one called Dinard, which sounds so alike with my name. And if you find trains too expensive, we discovered the Covoiturage web pages so handy to share a car with locals.



Bon Voyage!



Dinara Dultaeva

Dinara Dultaeva is a freelancer based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She graduated from Cardiff University, Wales, Great Britain and is passionate about magazines, traveling, photography and gastronomy.

The Many Places of Paris: Spring Break Edition

This post is dedicated to college students everywhere who are on spring break

Do you think that the only place to see Paris and the Eiffel Tower is in France? It’s not! This bronzed beauty can be found all over the world, sometimes even in your own back yard. For the spring breakers this year who didn’t get the awesome Twenty in Paris reader discount at WSA Europe (which is not too late btw)- to travel to Paris for spring break, you may not have to go far to get a little Paris wherever you are.

The many Eiffel Towers of the World range in height from 10ft (3 m) to its exact height of 1,102ft (336m); most serve as either decoration in a park or a communication tower on top of a building (photos courtesy of http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/replicas-eiffel-tower_n_3721294.html)

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The United States may have a love-hate relationship from time to time with our French brethen but we sure do love Paris! Here is a list of all the American states that are proud to call Paris a part of their state.


 So if you find yourself in: Harbin, China; Minato Tokyp, Japan; Las Vegas, NV- USA; Nagoya, Japan; Ismaning, Bavaria- Germany; Berlin, Germany; Shenzhen, China; Hangzhou, China; Mason, Ohio; Doswell, Virgina; Lyon, France; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Prague, Czech Republic; Gomex Palacio Durango , Mexico; Slobozia, Romania; Praizh, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia; London, England- UK; Sydney, Australia; Fayetteville, North Carolina -USA; Copenhagen, Denmark; Varna, Bulgaria; Torrejon, Spain; Lake Buena Vista, FL- USA; Paris, Texas- USA; Paris, Tennessee- USA;  Messinia, Greece; Atlanta, Georgia; Brussels; Rajasthan, India; Brisbane, Australia; Montmartre Saskatchewan; Austin, Texas- USA; Uman, Ukraine; Paris, Michigan- USA; Baku, Azerbaijan- celebrate your spring break in Paris, no matter what part of the world you’re in

As always please fun and safe spring break. Check back next week for a pre-release giveaway of up-coming study abroad book The Paris Diaries: The Study Abroad Experience Uncensored with WSA.









Eleanor’s Paris Adventures: Le commencement

1st post from new guest blogger, Eleanor Harte (photo by: frenchforfoodies.com)

“You’ve been accepted! Welcome to the program. We can’t wait to see you in January.”

The email, sent in October, was the final piece of the puzzle: I would be studying in Paris in Spring 2014. I immediately updated my Facebook status, started a countdown until the day I left, and researched things to do in Paris. I couldn’t wait. My dream was on its way to becoming a reality. I can’t remember the first time I heard about studying abroad, but I’ve known I wanted to do it since high school. My parents grew up in Europe, which gave me both travel experience to visit family and the blessing of dual citizenship and a European Union passport. I took French in high school and even though I didn’t have very good teachers, I did have the desire to learn the language. I’ve taken two semesters of college French as well, but even after all that time I still am not particularly confident in my language skills. That’s why I briefly flirted with the idea of studying in a different city: London, maybe, or Galway. Somewhere where I wouldn’t have to worry about basic communication skills, or my lack of them. But then I remembered why I wanted to study abroad in the first place: I was seeking a new culture, new places to discover, a new world to understand. Sure, London would be great and Galway would’ve been amazing, but I wouldn’t be getting an entirely new cultural experience. And ultimately, that was what I wanted. So I decided to lean into the fear and applied to study in Paris. Now there are just a few short days until I leave, and I still can’t wait. I am incredibly excited, but also very busy. My acceptance letter, which I thought was the last piece of the puzzle, turned out to be the first: I’ve had flight tickets to purchase, housing decisions to make, packing lists to write, and even more. I’ve had an empty suitcase sitting on my bedroom floor for a week, waiting to fill it until I’m sure exactly what I should bring. I’ve researched typical Parisian weather, what kind of clothing is in fashion, and what I can expect when I arrive. I’ve talked to my bank about my travel plans, downloaded free calling apps to my phone, and photocopied my passport. It seems that all that’s left for me to do is stop putting it off and actually pack. I think one of the reasons I haven’t started packing yet is because I’m nervous. I also haven’t fully processed that I am leaving in a handful of days.

I have never been to Paris, and even though I’ve read up on the 20 arrondissements and the fun places to hang out, I am at a complete loss for what to expect. When I get off that plane, I’ll be arriving in my new city for the first time. I’ve traveled internationally by myself, but never have I been to a city where I know absolutely no one. It’s kind of a terrifying prospect, especially when I consider that I haven’t studied French in two years, but I remain confident that my French language skills will improve over time. I’m going to be in Paris for five months, and after the initial shock of being there wears off, I know it’s going to be worth it. I’ve never spoken to someone who didn’t love their study abroad experience, and that’s how I know that this is going to be the greatest adventure of all.

So here’s to 2014: the year of adventure, of leaning into the fear, and of saying yes!

About the author:

Eleanor Harte is a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she’s studying Journalism and Political Science. She just arrived in Paris yesterday and will be taking Political Science classes through CEA and French classes at the Sorbonne. You can connect with Eleanor on twitter, Instagram  and at her website www.eleanorharte.com


Alexa’s Study Abroad Journal: A New Year, A New Life

By: Alexa Wybraniec

I ran twelve miles this morning.

When I’m running, I think up little mantras and repeat them inside my head. Today I thought, “Resolutions can happen whenever I want.”

I decided to change my life last spring, right in the thick of 2013. Running twelve miles this morning was absolutely not affiliated with January 1, 2014. The first time I finished a twelve-miler (a week ago) I signed up for a half marathon and spent the rest of the day confused. I thought, “I don’t know anything, it’s not possible for me to run twelve miles, I can’t do that. But I did it, so nothing makes sense, and I don’t know anything for sure anymore.”

I still think that, and it’s kinda nice. Applying that mindset to my future in Paris is the most liberating feeling on earth.

My lifestyle change has proved efficient. I earned my straight As this semester, and now I’m taking a winter class online. When summer rolls around, I’ll pick up a summer class. These are the small sacrifices I need to make in order to study abroad and graduate on time because core requirements cannot be fulfilled abroad. It’s not so bad, really, because I genuinely love learning new things. I’ve clearly got a handle on how to do the whole college thing in the States, but will that hold up in France?

I need to start thinking about, well, everything. I had a relaxing break, full of gift-giving, hikes and Chipotle trips, but having class everyday grounded me mentally. The new year, while insignificant, inevitably inspires forward-thinking.

My favorite presents received over break include:

- Victoria Trott’s “Paris City Guide”
- Aurelia D’Andrea’s “Living Abroad in France”
- a 2014 Parisian calendar
- luggage tags
- RFID-blocking neck pouch
- detachable silk bra pocket
- cold, hard cash (to be transformed into Euros ASAP)

The neck pouch claims its  “special blocking material prevents high tech identity thieves from downloading and stealing personal information stored on micro chips in your passport and credit cards.” I don’t know any high tech identity thieves but hey, now I have somewhere to store my passport, keys, cash, and whatever else I may be wary about toting around in a foreign city. The bra pocket seems to be the better option for a less “hey-look-at-me-I’m-a-tourist” ensemble.

I’ve started paging through the travel guides, and just when I thought I couldn’t be more excited, here I am. I can already see myself reading some sections within the next few days (“Social Climate,” “History,” “Food”), which sections I’ll reference over the next few months (“Preparing to Leave,” “What to Bring,” “Sample Itineraries”) and the sections I’ll pour over in my bedroom once I get there (“French Phrasebook,” “Travel and Transportation,” “Daily Life”).

I’ve been talking to a lot of people (pretty much anyone I come in contact with/anyone who will listen) about studying abroad. Absolutely everyone over the age of 50 is simply dazzled by my plans. Better yet, almost everyone over the age of 50 is more traveled than I am. I’ve had some great conversations over break so far, with so many family gatherings and that general amicable feeling of the holiday season.

Some of the best advice that stuck with me, while not the most original, went something like, “If I could do it all over again, I’d have traveled the world while I had the chance. Now, I’ve got a wife, kids, and a mortgage to pay.” This is exactly my thought process when I wake up in the morning. I turned twenty recently, and I’d rather not waste the potentially best years of my life. I’m in my best condition, both physically and mentally, right now.

I like to tell people that I’m moving to Paris next year. Now, I get to say I’m moving to Paris THIS year. Let the life-changing begin!

About the author:

Alexa Wybraniec is a journalism major at Rutgers University. She is going to be studying abroad in Paris at Sciences- Po for a year starting in the fall semester of 2014. Check back every Monday for a new post from Alexa. You can connect with her via Twitter.