Tag Archives: French language


Talking with native speakers is the best way to learn French

(The lunch or dinner table is a great place to converse with native speakers. Photo by: www.somethingtosnackon.com)

Monday through Friday, I have the best French lesson on the planet- I eat lunch with native French speakers. I learn more in 1 hour with them than I have in any classroom. Just the other day, I found out about the aggressive French redneck- this was something that was never taught in any level French class that I’ve ever taken. Le rouge gorge or literally the Red throat (ok it’s not redneck exactly but it’s pretty close!) is a small little bird native to Europe and is quite territorial, hence, it’s aggressive nature.


(He might not look like much but keep out of this little guy’s way!)


(photo by: my.englishclub.com)

The French nature lesson didn’t stop there. I also found out that une cigale is not a grasshopper but rather a cicada. All this time I thought that the hard working ant was being bothered by a lazy grasshopper who liked to make music and not a cicada (this is a reference from the famous French fable La cigale et la formi).

I cannot stress enough that the best way to really learn a foreign language is to speak with native speakers. This does not mean to say that speaking with native speakers should completely replace taking classes- unless you are able to speak with someone everyday for at least 1 hour and even then, I still recommend taking classes. Studying abroad is a great way to really take your foreign language skills to the next level and beyond as well as help you immerse into the host culture as you’ll be put in the situation to interact with native speakers. Countries like France love their language and that’s why it’s really important to beef up your language skills. Most of your language lessons occur outside the classroom and not in it – so dive in and talk with a native!

Are you getting ready to pack for your up-coming study abroad? Watch this video on how to pack your checked bag- this video is for both gentlemen and ladies. Stay tuned for the 3rd installment of the How to Pack for Studying Abroad Series which covers beauty essentials.




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.



Should You Visit Home During A Long Time Abroad

(Featured photo by: thecrowdwire.org)

I feel like this is one of the hardest questions you face when you’re planning a trip abroad for ten months to one year. The pros and cons are all there- you shouldn’t go home because then you may not want to return to the foreign country, but then again it can be like recharging your battery to go home and see family, etc. Most of it depends on the individual person, but sometimes the situation is easier to read.

The younger you are, the more you should NOT visit home, at least considering that the time is not more than one year. Why? Because the less experience you have being away from home, the more you’ll be tempted to simply return home for good and miss out on so many wonderful opportunities abroad. Of course, it’s hard to put an age range on this, but the age range of study abroad-ers from about 18 to 24 is probably the hardest hit. However, I would say that it’s more accurately those who are going abroad on their own for the first time, especially the first time for a one-year duration, that are most encouraged to stick out the long stay without the visit back home.

If finances are hard, even for your parents/guardians, don’t empty that savings account just because the chance to go home is really nice. Being a young person abroad, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to afford the tickets home and back, which means you’ll be leaning on others for the expenses. Some travelers are lucky enough to go home when desired, but don’t put that pressure on family if they don’t really have the funds either. My advice is to ask them for a care package instead. It can still be pricey to send a box abroad, but it’s nothing compared to a plane ticket, and some little things from home make a huge difference in your happiness abroad.

Despite these important factors, I think the most crucial one is to plan from the beginning whether or not you’ll go home. If you wait to decide until you’re a few months in to see if you have the time/money, the chance is that you’ll be making the decision during your “down” time on the “W scale”, which will make you want to go home for the wrong reasons. And if you don’t plan on going home and it works out as a happy accident, great! But if you plan to go home and then it falls through because of lack of preparation, you’re going to be in for a rough ride. Your ducks have to be in a row no matter where or when you’re traveling! This has been my most recent problem and now the homesickness is worse than before.
Lots of big decisions have to be made before your time abroad, and whether or not to go home is a huge part of that. Write out the pros and cons, evaluate your own personality and situation, and make a choice that you can stick to. But if you can’t go home- don’t despair! Most families can afford small care packages, or if not, little mementos and lots of Skype calls will do the trick. It’s not the end of the world to be away from home for a year. Stay positive and have fun!


Chelsea Fairless

Chelsea is a home-bred Texan currently living in Geneva, Switzerland and studying French at the University of Geneva, while living and working with a family as a part-time nanny. She has been living in the Geneva area since August 2012. You can follow more of her story on her blog http://parolepassport.blogspot.com/ and other social media sites.


How to Make a Home Away from Home When Studying Abroad

(These things make your college room feel more like home but it’s too much to bring for studying abroad-all photos by Andrea)

Going to college in your home country, it’s easy to make your college room a home away from home with photos tacked to the wall, little knick knacks and souvenirs to remind us of loved ones or that really great trip. It makes a generic, non-descript room says you live there. Your college room becomes not only a reflection of you, but a place of inspiration, of motivation, and of family and friends. Making your study abroad housing arrangement homey is not so easy. Let’s take a look about how to make a home away from home when studying abroad.

Less is more – whether staying with a host family, renting an apartment or living in a dorm, space will be limited, especially in Europe where things are smaller to start with. It’s ok to make a place homey but don’t over do it. Your suitcase should have only the bare essentials in it- you’ll need the extra room for clothes and souvenirs you’ll buy. You don’t want to have it packed with unnecessary decorations. Here’s a great example of what you don’t want to do.


(A special or motivating card and a small photo album are perfect touches to your new quarters abroad)


Think temporary and not permanent- if you were living on campus to start with you, you already understand this. 5-10 months seems like a lot of time to be living somewhere but it’s really not. Don’t buy things like furniture unless you really need to (example, your room doesn’t come with a lamp and in that case- go for something 20€ or less). This is a temporary home and although you want to make it comfortable and homey, you don’t want to be spending money or time on decorating. Besides there are other ways to make your new place abroad scream home.

Don’t forget about family- It’s the digital age but it’snice to have a physical souvenir of back home, especially of your family/loved ones. A small photo album is great or a few loose photos that you can put on the wall/ a window sill/ a night stand to let you know that their always thinking of you. Andrea’s advice: Be wary of tacking things to the walls, especially at a home stay or apartment. These places are someone’s home that you are renting out and they probably won’t appreciate you putting holes in their walls.

(This is too much…)


(but this is just right)


Do you have a favorite blanket or pillow? – Bring it! I know that most pro travelers would tell you this is a no-no but we’re not talking about a 3 day or 1 week trip. We’re talking about a 5 – 10 month stay abroad in someone else’s home. If you have a favorite pillow (or one for medical reasons) or blanket that helps you sleep better, go ahead and bring it. Just don’t bring the King sized extra down comforter- let’s keep it reasonable. Not only do these items act as comfort objects, they also give your new living quarters that sense of home as well as help you sleep better. Don’t underestimate the power of not sleeping well. Sometimes that special pillow or blanket can be the key to a successful slumber.

(If the pillow works, bring it! Here;s one you might use for medical conditions)


(This blanket has seen a lot of love in its day. It’s old and ratty but it helped me sleep much better as well as comfort me on a bad day abroad)



Don’t decorate- Depending upon if you are staying with a host family, renting an apartment or staying in a dorm will determine how far you can go into decorating. Again, don’t go crazy- the goal is to make the new environment feel comfortable and homey without actually being decorated. I discourage bringing anything fragile or breakable or buying anything like this- it will make the transport home much more difficult.

(This is a no- no!)