Tag Archives: new years


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.


New Year, New Start

By: Andrea Bouchaud

(photo by friend- this is me at Jardin de Luxembourg. This has nothing to do with New Years other than it is a fun photo that was taken in the spring semester during my year in Paris. Woohoo for big bows!)

That’s what New Year’s Day meant to me as a twenty year old American student in Paris who had a tough 1st semester. When the clock struck midnight on December 31st that year while I stood in a quiet Parisian street watching the lights on the Eiffel Tower flicker crazily while fireworks went off in the background, I made a promise to myself that the spring semester would be different for me than the fall semester. I promised myself that I would not make the same mistakes twice and would take and seek out every opportunity available in the great city of Paris. No more would I look down on the French culture when it wasn’t how I hoped it would be. My attitude changed for things like: Strikes- they became charming; The uncanny ability the French have to disagree with most things –it became an amusing conversation piece; The “work to live” mentality – became an exemplary way to structure a society and economy.

But it didn’t stop there. No more would I be afraid to speak. No more would I stay in the studio and sulk. No more would I be the person I was in the first semester. That spring semester in Paris truly was a difference for me. I became the positive changes I wanted to see. If you’re studying in France for an academic year, I hope that this New Year treats you well and is even better than your last semester. If this spring semester is your first semester abroad, I wish you best of luck. Don’t forget to make it everything you want it to be.


New Year’s Eve: Paris Edition

By: Andrea Bouchaud

(photo by: discoverwalks.com)

During winter break while I was studying abroad in Paris, my father came to visit me. I was so preoccupied with finishing the semester and getting things ready for his visit that I didn’t stop to think about how the Parisians ring in the New Year. Paris doesn’t have anything that resembles Times Square so I didn’t think that they would be doing anything special for New Years for me to investigate. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that the Parisians would celebrate New Years with the most famous structure in Paris- the Eiffel Tower. It was New Year’s Eve 2007 and my father and I finished having dinner with Tatie (his aunt with whom I was living) when we were talking about what we should do for midnight. Tatie told us to go to the Eiffel Tower as they always do something there for New Years. The only issue is that this conversation was at like 11pm so we didn’t have much time to get there. We quickly left her apartment and started walking towards the buttery, illuminated Eiffel Tower. Something you should know about Paris is that there isn’t always a straight route. I led us down a major street which had a direct view of the Eiffel Tower as my idea was to keep walking down that street until we got to it. The only problem was that there were a few squares in the middle of the walk which meant that the straight road to the Eiffel Tower wasn’t really a straight road after all. We had to make turns and after a while I lost sight of the Eiffel Tower. After minutes of walking around and turning in circles, we were able to find another street with a direct view of the tower. Unfortunately for us, when we found this new road, it was too late. My father and I stood in the middle of a quiet, cold Parisian street watching the lights on the Eiffel Tower light up in sporadic bursts while fireworks went off in the background. It was actually a really great way to bring in the New Year. Champ de Mars (that’s the name of the field upon which the Eiffel Tower sits) is super crowded and really cold. Seeing the same sights on that tiny street fostered a more intimate way  to say hello to 2008. No matter where you find yourself this New Year’s Eve, please be safe, happy and healthy.

Happy New Year and Bonne Année!