My semester abroad in Paris, France was an unforgettable experience that I love to talk about with anyone who will listen. However, while the first few days went by in a complete blur, the things I learned during the early stages of my time abroad had a strong effect on the rest of the trip. As a girl who both grew up and went to college in the state of Alabama, Paris was a huge adjustment for me. Everything from exploring my new environment to staying connected with those back home became a challenge, ultimately making me a better person by the end of the semester.
In Paris, my usual mode of transportation, driving myself everywhere, was not an option. Fortunately for me, Paris has a large array of different modes of public transportation. The most common method of travel, in my opinion, was the metro. When first arriving in Paris, I made an effort to learn which metro stops would be the most important to me. Mapping out my journey beforehand saved me a lot of headaches, and from here the rest is very simple. Honestly, I have to commend the city of Paris for making those signs down in the metro so easy to follow.
There are also many apps that will map out your complete journey, including walking instructions. However, when taking the metro I didn't get to see much of the city from underground. This is when the Taxi, UBER or even the bus system came in handy. This made it possible to see all those historic monuments while getting to where I needed to go. Most of the time I would get a pretty patient driver who would let me practice my French which, thanks to my classes, got a lot better after my semester.
Learning even the simplest of French phrases can help make day-to-day travel better. So studying in Paris, to improve my French, was a welcome experience. Compared to my desk back home, the cafes, parks, and libraries were a lot more interesting and motivational when it came to getting work done. And fortunately, the local Gibert Jeune and Office Depot made "finding school supplies" an easy task to check off my list.
Traveling all over the city to study in all kinds of interesting locations made for some pretty interesting stories that I couldn't wait to share with my friends and family back home. With that in mind, getting an international SIM card from the local phone companies and setting up a global plan with an American company can be helpful, but I don't know what people did before social media. Facebook chat, WhatsApp and other forms of social media proved to be the most helpful for me. This allowed me to share photos, videos, and messages, or even call back home if needed, keeping me connected.
All of these new and sudden changes in my life turned me into quite a versatile individual. I became more organized, adventurous and outgoing. When I finally adjusted to Paris, it slowly became a second home to me.
Jasmine Brown is an Alumni Ambassador at CEA Study Abroad, she is currently a student at University of Alabama and studied abroad in Paris, France.