A (Realistic) Study Abroad Checklist for France

Photo: (c) Terry Presley, via Flickr

Passport? Check. Syllabus? Check. Preparedness for studying in a foreign country for four months? Well, we’re working on it.

1. Take and post five thousand photos of the Eiffel Tower.

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You know, just so everyone back home can feel bad about the fact that they don’t have a passport or your ability to match your sunglasses to your chunky heels.

2. Order a croissant every day for a month. 

Wonder why you haven’t gained ten pounds. Become convinced your local boulanger hates you. Try to make small talk with them. Fail miserably. Eat another croissant to make yourself feel better.

3. Get your phone pickpocketed and learn how to read a Paris Plan because you don’t have Google Maps anymore.

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Parisian Situation

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Agonize over which of the six streets you should turn onto every time you’re at a traffic circle.

4. Make a French friend and bring them to every American party to prove how chic and local you are now. 

Speak to them exclusively in English except when you’re in front of people who only speak English. Stop speaking to them when you realize the only thing you have in common is a fondness for Breton stripes.

5. Find your new emergency wifi café when the Internet shuts down at your residence hall (because, you know, French wifi) and you have a midnight deadline.

P.S. It’s 11:25pm.

P.P.S. Your chic emergency cafe wifi is a McDonald’s.

6. Get sick of steak tartare and French onion soup. 

Go to a really bad Chinese takeout place. Cry over your lack of delivery options.

7. Get a side gig tutoring English for a French kid who looks like Le Petit Prince and makes you feel inferior even though he’s seven.

8. Desperately try to figure out your schedule when you realize there’s a French holiday like every other Monday.

9. Try to open a French bank account. 

Give up when you realize the sheer amount of paperwork and condescending bureaucracy involved.

10. Go on a date with a French guy. 

Casually joke that you’re only using him to get the French equivalent of a green card. He doesn’t think it’s funny, and you weren’t really joking.

11. Hold a full conversation in French at the bar and then fail your French 201 test in class the next morning.

12. Sneak off to Starbucks for a clandestine Venti chai latte and hope no one you know sees your basicness showing.

13. Walk through the touristy part of town and pretend the accordionist playing “La Vie En Rose” doesn’t secretly make you feel like you’re in a Godard film.

14. Sweat through an entire conversation in French with a barista only to realize the barista is Australian and he’s trying just as hard as you are.

15. Have your parents mail you a new iPhone (to replace the one you got pickpocketed). 

Find out that France charges crazy amounts of money to import tech. Shell out 125€ cash.

16. Get surprised that you still have midterms. 

Wasn’t this supposed to be a four-month vacation?

17. Cry during takeoff on your flight home because after all that, it was still the time of your life.

Buy Boingo in-flight wifi to look at plane tickets back to France.