Tag Archives: study abroad regret


French tips & Study Abroad Questions

(this image is completely silly- no real connection to this post; www.wiziq.com)

Did you know that Twenty in Paris is on tumblr? This page was created during The Paris Diaries book promotion. You can find it here http://theofficialparisdiaries.tumblr.com.

Anyhoo, I’ve been posting study abroad questions that students ask themselves followed by some quick tips and French culture/language fun facts. Here’s some examples of what you’ll find on tumblr. These are updated everyday.

(this is a French tip)




(this is a study abroad question and tip)



Do you find these helpful? Do you have a study abroad question that you would like covered or a French culture/language tip? Tweet it to me @twentyinparis for a chance to have it featured.  Did you get your copy of Twenty in Paris yet on sale now? Hurry! These prices won’t last long!


Tips on making a study abroad budget & using credit cards overseas

(photo by: itthing.com)

Money is the main issue that worries students when it comes to studying abroad. Do you have enough? How do you make it last for 5 months or more when you don’t have a job? Can you travel and see everything while on a tight budget? I had the pleasure of teaming up with Dani Alderman at creditcardinsiders.com to bring you the money answers you seek for your up-coming study abroad experience.

What is a budget and why is it important?

A budget is a plan for how much money you’re going to spend during a certain time period- usually per month. Creating and maintaining a budget is the backbone of the study abroad experience; it will tell you what you can and cannot do. It will make sure that you don’t go broke from studying abroad (which I almost did) as well as help you to not miss out on opportunities. Not only will a budget help you during your time abroad, but it will help you in your life after college, too.

The basics of making a budget 

Andrea’s tips

Your study abroad budget doesn’t start the moment your plane lands; it starts at home. Before you leave, you need to know what your money situation is. This will help you to know how much you can spend each month (example: you have $3,000 in your account and you’ll be abroad for 1 semester or 5 months. Divide the amount of money you have by the number of months to get your total monthly spending budget or 3,000 / 5 = 600. This means that you can spend up to $600 a month before your account is at $0.00).

The most important aspect about making a budget is that you record every purchase. Tracking your budget on a spreadsheet or app is great but not necessary for study abroad. A simple recording in your phone’s notepad feature or in a notebook will do. The most important part is to look at it and don’t forget to record every purchase immediately. It’s also a good idea to record how much you plan to spend each week for different categories – for example: eating out 75€, museums 30€, etc…. This will help to keep you right on track with your spending. If you find yourself spending more on that morning latte each week and less on going to museums, you’ll know where to tweak your spending to reach your goals.


(here’s an example of budget recording on your phone. photo by Andrea)



(budget apps are great but not always necessary; if you like to use one- make sure to change to local currency. Photo by: lifehacker.com)


Dani’s tips

When making a budget for travel, it’s important to account for unforeseen circumstances. Maybe your bus to the airport is late and you have to pay for a cab. You might get sick and have to pay for medication. No matter the circumstances, it’s best to be prepared with extra money in your account. This way you can avoid overdraft fees, or worse, being stranded penniless in a foreign city.

Tip on currency

Knowing the exchange rate in the country which you are traveling is key! In many European countries, you will lose U.S. dollars when you convert your currency. For example, if 1 U.S. Dollar equals .73 Euros, you lose about 37 cents per U.S. dollar. This is because with the current exchange rate, 1 Euro equals 1.36986 USD.

Andrea’s note- Don’t forget to convert your monthly spending budget into the local currency. For example, if you’re studying abroad in Europe, that $600 monthly budget is really 440€. You’ll want to keep the 440€ in mind as you track your monthly purchases.

American credit cards that can be used overseas and travel credit cards with simple rewards that will help students to gain rewards

When choosing the right credit card for your travels abroad, it is important to consider the travel, security, rewards and theft solutions that will be most beneficial for you. If you are traveling to Europe, it might be useful to apply for a credit card with EMV technology. Most cards in the United States are chip-and-signature cards. These cards are more secure than the magnetic stripe cards we use every day. You should also consider credit cards with $0 fraud liability, 0% foreign transaction fees, and travel insurance and assistances. Most U.S. credit cards have foreign transaction fees from 2-3%! These fees can add up quickly so it’s best to choose a card with no foreign fees!

Here are the top three best travel credit cards for students:

Here are the top three best travel credit cards for all travelers:

If you plan to use one of your existing credit cards, make sure you let your card issuer know every country you will be visiting so they don’t freeze your account. Don’t forget photo identification at all times! Europeans take fraud and identity theft very seriously!
A third option is to get a prepaid chip-enabled card. You get the security of chip technology, but prepaid card are not usually linked to your personal information, it’s a win-win! Prepaid chip-enabled cards benefit college students studying abroad because they can’t spend more than the loaded amount on the card.

Studying abroad doesn’t have to break the bank. Being familiar with your finances, keeping a budget and having the right credit card can help you to maximize your time abroad. Want to find out more? Check out CreditCard Insider. Did you find this post useful? Let me know by giving it a “bon” in the blue box if you liked or a stale baguette if it wasn’t helpful.


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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.


American Visa (XL)

The Process of Getting a French Visa

(photo by: africanscholar.com)

Getting your French visa can be tricky but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of a French visa via this excerpt from popular study abroad book Twenty in Paris: A Young American Perspective of Studying Abroad in Paris.


After you are accepted and fully enrolled in a study abroad program, the final step to complete prior to going to Paris is to obtain your visa. If you are studying abroad for a summer you do not need a visa. If you are studying abroad in Paris for one semester or an academic year, you must have a visa. If you are studying abroad for one semester, you need to obtain a visa de court séjour étudiant which lasts from one to ninety days. If you are studying abroad for an academic year (two semesters), you need to obtain a visa de long séjour étudiant which is for more than ninety days and for students who are eighteen years of age or older. After ninety days, you must file for the carte de séjour with the préfecture de police (the police station) in Paris to obtain a residency card.


The first step in obtaining your French visa is to register yourself on the Campus France website www.campusfrance.org/en. Campus France is the French national agency for the promotion of higher education, international student services, and international mobility. On its website, you must create a dossier (file) with your personal information and answer questionnaires regarding your education and why you want to study abroad in France. Once your dossier has been completed, you must mail to Campus France a copy of your acceptance letter from the American portion of the study abroad program (this letter will be in English) and attestation statement from the French portion of the study abroad program (this letter will be in French) along with a $60 check for the processing fee. After your dossier is processed and the payment cleared, you will receive an email from Campus France. When you receive this email, you are allowed to make your appointment at your delegated consulate to obtain your visa. You must have that email from Campus France before you can make an appointment to go to the French Consulate. This process takes about two to three weeks.

campus france

Once the first step in the visa process with Campus France is complete, you can make an appointment with your designated French Consulate. Please be advised that there may not be a French Consulate in your state and you may have to travel to obtain your visa. The French Consulate has grouped together American states and designated a French Consulate for each specific group of states. The website for all the French Consulates in America is http://www.franceintheus.org/. On this website, you can locate your state’s designated French Consulate by selecting “visas for France” under the category “Going to France” on the home page then clicking on the phrase “first choose the closest French Consulate” written in blue towards the bottom of the page. This phrase is a link which will direct you to a map of the United States with the states grouped into different colors. Click on the state in which you reside to be directed to your state’s appointed French Consulate’s website.


Prior to going to your state’s appointed French Consulate, review their website to confirm the preferred method to make an appointment. For example, the New York City French Consulate website explicitly states that they no longer take appointments via telephone as all appointments are to be made online. Please note that you cannot just walk into a French Consulate as an American with no appointment. If you have to make an online appointment, you will receive a confirmation email from the consulate with your appointment date/time. You will need to bring both the Campus France and consulate email confirmations with you to your appointment at the French Consulate. After your appointment is made, start preparing your method of transportation to the consulate as well as all the paperwork you need to obtain your visa. It is also wise to brush up on your French skills as you will have some French interactions in the consulate office. In the following account of my visa day, I will indicate the language of the interactions to provide a concept of how often and in what context French was requested to be spoken.


(Here’s the email confirmation from the NYC French Consulate)

Did you find this helpful? Let me know if this post was bon or a stale baguette. Looking for a detailed check list of all the documents needed for your visa and more on the visa experience? Purchase e-book Twenty in Paris: A Young American Perspective of Studying Abroad in Paris on Amazon’s Kindle store. Kindle App available for free download for any tablet or smart phone for instant reading. 


Stay tuned for ” How to fill out a French Visa Application in French” – for tomorrow.