Hello future study abroad students,
My name is Grace Nevarez and I am a fourth year SFSU Marketing major. I decided to do my study abroad my fourth year because during my sophomore and junior year I was unsure of what country to study in. Picking Paris for my study abroad involved a lot of planning, thinking, and work. Before picking a country, it is important that you know what classes you need in order to stay on track for graduating. Then looking at schools that offer the classes you need. Once you have done that, you will have a better idea of what schools offer your courses and in what country. After going through this process, it is important that you research the country, it’s politics, and currency. This will help you decide what country to choose and how to plan for budgeting. With this being said, if France is the country for you then you will not regret it at all. Living in Paris has changed my life in multiple ways and for the better. Paris is in the middle of France and close to other European countries that you may want to visit.
A few things to take in mind before coming to Paris is cost, living, customs, language, and traveling. I am a San Francisco native so trust me when I say that rent is way cheaper in Paris than it is in France. The only thing is that you need to plan ahead of time and do your research. I did my living arrangements with Comforts of Paris. Comforts of Paris is expensive, but they do help you find a place and fix anything that goes wrong with your apartment however they should be your last resort. With this being said if you have lived in San Francisco your whole life or for a while then prices here in Paris will not be a big difference because food and going out is the same as SF or cheaper. The budget that I set for myself is $1000 a month. So before coming to Paris I applied to scholarships, worked during my spring semester and summer, I saved up and I had financial aid. When you arrive her in Paris, for the first month do plan to spend at least $2000. This includes your plane ticket, books, getting a phone company out here, groceries, and public transportation.
As far as packing, do not pack things that you do not need. Therefore, I will help you by telling you things that you do need. A pillow will be one thing you need because France only have square pillows. A few notebooks because France notebook are very different compared to what out of state people are use to. You also need a universal adapter because the outlets are nothing compared to the States. I bought mines on Amazon which came in a pack of 3 for only $6.99. If you plan on studying for only the fall semester then pack your scarfs and warm close because it get cold early October- December. Do plan for rain so bring rain boots, rain jacket and a very good umbrella because France umbrellas are not very good quality. If you are studying for the year it does get hot after January. Another thing to consider is if you plan on traveling while you are here it is good to have a small travel suit case or bag. Other than that weather in Paris is about the same as San Francisco so when it comes to what type of close just think of it as what you would wear in SF. Furthermore, packing is least of your worries because trust me when I say that your style will change and you will want to shop so don’t pack too much clothes or shoes. As for shoes, Paris is a about public transportation and walking so high heels are not used in Paris. Sneakers, rain boots, booties are what people use out here. The pavement here in Paris is very unstable so walking in high heels is impossible.
Now I will just bullet point important information regarding phone company to use, public transportation and things you should look into while you’re here in paris.
It is important that you unlock your phone before leaving the states because then you would not be able to use a different sim card.
Companies for phone services are: Free, Orange, Lycamobile.
I currently use Free because it’s unlimited data, calling, and texting for 20.99 euro. However, the first month is going to be 30.99 euro because you have to pay 5 euro for the sim card itself.
Transportation: Navigo is what I use and I pay 75 euro a month. This includes unlimited rides with all public transportation and train that are within zones 1-5. This pass can take you outside of Paris to explore smaller towns and cities.
Language: it is important that you learn french before coming to France. I know SFSU does not require you to do it, but trust me when I say that you need it because a lot of French people do now know english and they are much nicer if you try to speak french with them. Also if you are attending American Business School make sure to enroll into the French class
Traveling around Europe:
Busses: Flexibus, ouiibus, eurolines
Trains: eurostar (this is expensive but not if you plan ahead)
Flying: Ryanair, Vueling, Franceair, Skyscanner, Kayak
If you staying for the year do plan to open a bank account. If you have Bank of America back at Home BNP Parabasis is the bank you would use out here. You will need your W-9 in order to open an account so plan to have that save somewhere on your computer. Other than that, have a travels rewards card because they don’t charge you international fees. If you plan on just using debit card that will be a lot because in Europe you get charged for international fees and they are crazy expensive and even though your bank says you won’t be charged that is not true. So other than having a french bank account have a travel card that does not charge you international card because it makes things easy for you. Also when you withdraw money make sure you do a big amount at a time so that you won’t be charged international fees for every withdraw.
Other things to take into account are while living in Paris is that french people do not use blenders so do not expect for your apartment to have a blender or toaster and a drying machine. French people air dry their laundry so be use to that. Another thing to consider is that French people start their day at 6 am and usually have breakfast in their homes so you will not find breakfast places in Paris. Another thing to plan for is that apartment either have microwaves or ovens and it is rare that an apartment has both.
With this being said, I wish you guys the best of luck and if you guys have questions feel free to message me on FaceBook (Grace Nevarez Ortiz). I will be more than happy to tell you more and answer any questions that you have. You can also comment and I will reply as soon as I can. P.S Paris is amazing and you will love it and never want to go back like me.