Tag Archives: introverts abroad

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D-Day and Other Things

(It’s a little late but here is a picture of when I visited Normandy D-Day beaches in France- please do not forget our brave soldiers)

Bonjour  mes amis,

Ce matin j’ai fait une grasse matinée. This means that I slept in. I haven’t slept in until almost midi (noon) in years. SPOILER ALERT- I went to the movies last night and saw Edge of Tomorrow, which is why my old lady butt wasn’t waking up this am. The parallels this movie made to both WWI and WWII (especially the latter) were uncanny, save for the aliens. Within the first 20 minutes of the film, the forces of good (Allied troops) were going to catch the enemy off-guard by landing on the beaches of Normandy for an invasion style attack. The parallels were almost a little too much to bear for me as it was the 70th anniversary of D-Day yesterday. D-Day is interesting for me because Americans do not really acknowledge that day here save for the American President going to France every year and giving a speech. But it’s a HUGE deal in France. The French are extremely grateful for the Allies /American forces that sacrificed their lives that terrifying morning to change the course of history for the better, especially the older generation who was alive then or grew up in post WWII France. Please take out a little time in your day to give thanks to the brave men who gave their lives and fought to secure the life we have here today. Andrea’s rating on Edge of Tomorrow – A.

Anyhoo, I have a lot to catch up on to make the most of my already short weekend, so let’s take a look at what’s new in the Twenty in Paris world:

  •  Working on joint post about budgets and using credit cards during your study abroad stay with Credit Card Insiders (to be featured here)Credit cards close up...BBPKF6 Credit cards close up(photo by: creditlovers.com)

 

  • Brainstorming ideas for my next post on GoAbroad.com; Do you have a Paris or France question? Tweet it to me @twentyinparis with hashtag #PSAQ (which stands for Paris Study Abroad Question) for a chance to have it answered in my next guest post on GoAbroad
  • I haven’t forgotten about the first segment in the 4 part “How to pack for Studying abroad” video segment. I’m just finishing the last few touches

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  • Is there something you would like to see featured on the Twenty in Paris website or YouTube channel? Tweet it to me @twentyinparis
  • Andrea’s goals: I want to create more serious memes about studying abroad; I need to finish my Australia trip scrapbook; I want to learn how to sew and make 1950s circle skirts; I want to write an awesome piece of fiction that’s not related to Paris or study abroad1950s-Rockabilly-Circle-Skirt-Poodle-Skirt-with-Should-Straps-Misses-Vintage-Sewing-Pattern-650x1024(photo by: www.oldfashionedsusie.com)
  
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Selling Reality: Why Students No Longer Are Buying the Study Abroad Dream

(Walt Disney built a whole empire out of selling dreams- photo by:yournaperville.com)

Have you ever booked a trip somewhere based off of a picture you saw, a story you read, or a TV show that featured the location? If so, then you bought into a dream. Don’t panic- we all do this (even me). The selling and buying of dreams is critical to almost every industry, especially travel. For example, who would book a trip to Jamaica between June and December if you knew that it was their rainy season? The fantasy of a vacation in Jamaica is relaxing on the beautiful, warm, sunny beach and playing in the clear blue water. If you knew that there was a strong possibility of sitting in your hotel the entire time looking out at dark storm clouds and flash flood rain that lasts for days, you wouldn’t be so excited to go there during those months.

Why do people love buying fantasy?

When we’re down or not doing anything exciting, we dream for excitement. And what’s better than a dream? Nothing! The selling of dreams is a brilliant marketing campaign that works really well forbeverything. It works because it removes us from the mundaneness that can be everyday life and makes us feel how we wish to feel or be who we wish to be without doing much work. However, if you’re not careful, it can also disappoint if you really buy into it.

So how does studying abroad fit into all this?

The study abroad experience is sold as the ultimate dream trip to college students. The academic portion of it is often pushed out of this dream sequence. I have never come across a study abroad program website which features images of students studying or in a classroom as part of their marketing for study abroad. It’s always the students with recognizable sights/monuments, smiling and having a good time. If you come across a study abroad program that doesn’t market the dreamy travel aspect of studying abroad, please tweet it to me @twentyinparis. Anyhoo, it’s no surprise that as a result of this clever marketing campaign, many students go abroad with unrealistic expectations of the experience. Just like the travel website who wants people to book trips to Jamaica during rainy season, the difficulties of the study abroad experience aren’t advertised. As a result, students are shocked and often disappointed that they are treated as a foreigner, not understood when they speak the host language, don’t have stellar grades in classes abroad, have trouble making friends with natives and/or don’t get along with their host family.

 

studyabroadfrance3(an excellent example of studying abroad marketing – photo by: www.millardlatimer.com)

 

Does the selling of reality for study abroad make it more desirable?

I’m no marketer or psychologist but I think that reality sells because of two things: 1) It makes us feel better about our situation/ ourselves; 2) It is human nature to seek out truth (that’s the whole goal of philosophy). We know that studying abroad is sold as a dream trip for students but it’s not. Students like you are searching for the truth behind the light-hearted memes about partying and traveling abroad. It’s not to say that studying abroad isn’t an overall great experience. It is. But you know that it comes with its fair share of bad days and hardships. You’re looking for someone to show you the experience uncensored with all its ups and downs. The trend is growing to show the not so pretty parts of the study abroad experience but we are still in the shadows for the most part. Every time I come across a blog/article that shares candid, uncensored experiences about studying abroad, I bring them to you here. And they are some of Twenty in Paris’ most popular posts. What this shows me is that you are not deterred by the truth but rather motivated by it.

What do we do now?

We keep talking about it and asking others to share their study abroad experiences- all of it. Ask your study abroad office to tell you the difficulties you can expect to face with cultural and linguistic immersion, going to class abroad, interactions with your host family. Don’t settle for “every student is different.” Keep imploring for examples of others snafus abroad to better prepare yourself. By finding out the reality of living and studying abroad, you can often eliminate and alleviate a lot of uncomfortable situations. Let’s continue the quest to show the study abroad experience- Uncovered. Uncensored. Unapologetic.

  
Jumping-off-cliff.-Life-begins-at-the-end-of-your-comfort-zone-quote

Can introverts study abroad?

(photo by: best-thoughts-sms.blogspot.com)

Sure can and you know one who did –me! My name is Andrea and I’m a loud, proud introvert. Now just like anything in life, introverts come in all different flavors. There isn’t a one size fits all example of an introvert. The most basic and relatable definition of an introvert is someone who pulls their energy from within and not from others. As a result, many introverts (including myself) prefer to be alone (or with a small group of people) than in big crowds as we find them to be overwhelming. When you think of someone who is dreaming of studying abroad, you may not think of someone who prefers to be alone. But that is where you would be wrong. Many introverts are dreamers and although we are uncomfortable in big or new social settings, we desire that one day we may find one that doesn’t bother us. For me, I felt that opportunity was studying abroad.

Preparing to pack up my life to go 6,000 miles away from everyone I loved and everything I ever knew, I dreamed the biggest dreams. I was going to get discovered and become a top (albeit, short) fashion model- that surely would have me interacting with lots of people in all kinds of social settings; I was then going to be named the Face of France and get to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy; and of course despite little practicing of French outside of the classroom, I was going to be awesome in French, so awesome that I would randomly engage in deep philosophical debates with native French speakers- anytime, anywhere. I’m hoping you see the extreme far-fetchedness of these introvert fantasies. I always believed that my introvertedness was not a personality trait in me, but rather I wasn’t in the right place.

introvert

(photo by: www.hypeorlando.com)

When I arrived in Paris, it became quickly apparent that these things were not going to happen. It was then that I realized that it was not the place that needed changing, it was me. Now there is nothing wrong in being an introvert and in fact, many of its qualities may make the study abroad experience easier since you’re used to doing things alone. However, there are a few things to keep in mind as an introvert going abroad:

  • As introverts, we are not eager to leave our comfort zone and prefer being alone. If you don’t put yourself in new social situations, it can be difficult to better your foreign language abilities due to not getting enough practice.
  • The whole point of studying abroad is to experience a new culture and group of people. If you are spending most of your time alone, you’re defeating the whole purpose of studying abroad.
  • For introverts, sometimes it’s easier to just be alone with our thoughts when we’re frustrated, sad, upset, lonely, missing home. Being alone is the worst thing to do when you have these feelings as they will only intensify in solitude.
  • The fact that you signed up to study abroad shows that you are not as introvert as you think and that when you challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone, you can do anything.
  • Don’t expect people to make conversation / friends with you first, especially the French. French culture is more reserved than and not as open as American culture. If you wait for French students to come up to you first, you’ll never make first contact.
  • Have an introvert coach. Ask someone who always gives you the spark you need to get things done to send you weekly “reminders” via text / SM / email to talk to fellow students, join clubs on campus, go out, and discover the culture and people who traveled to be with and experience.

 

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(Don’t change these wonderful introvert qualities. Photo by: Nancy Dooren)

If you let your introvert qualities shine while you are abroad, you can face many hardships. I know because that’s what I did. I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone as much as I should have and held firmly to my introvert ways. Introverts can study abroad but it is harder for us than our extrovert friends. Don’t let this discourage you. In fact, you would benefit from learning a thing or 2 from them. You don’t have to get rid of your introvert ways to study abroad, but you will need to challenge them to make the most of this experience.

 

bookAre you an introvert who’s interested in studying abroad but previous talks with your folks haven’t gone so well? Find out how to approach this topic for a guaranteed successful conversation and gain your parents’ support for this experience with new mini guide book An Introvert’s Guide to Talking Study Abroad With Their Parents.