It’s finally time! Your Erasmus year in Paris is finally here! All of your excitment, stressing and relentless bragging for the past 6 months have led to this moment; La Ville Lumière awaits.
Vous êtes prêt? – Are you ready?
To put it bluntly, as much as you think you are, you’re probably not.
But not to worry! As someone who has experienced first-hand the trauma and struggle of the integration period in Paris (It’s honestly not that bad), I’m going to give you a few tips and tricks regarding things that you should do before you arrive in Paris.
- Choose your house mate(s) wisely
Moving away from home to a different country for the first time can be a particularly daunting experience. Naturally, you would want to stay with people you feel comfortable with, probably people you have spent the past two years at university with, right?
Wrong – As hard as it will be to say no to living with your friends, you have to remember whyyou’re there in the first place – to learn French.
You should try to find a French housemate, living with someone French will allow you to effortlessly gain a more fluent and natural understanding of the French language. As someone living with two English speakers, as great as it is to know I can hold a conversation in English, I feel that whenever I return home from work, my French seems to decline.
There will be no « J’ai dû attendre dix minutes pour me servir de la salle de bains ! »,(I had to wait 10 minutes to use the bathroom) – and its little phrases like this that will show off your French language fluency and impress local speakers. It is an ideal opportunity to grasp the language, as well as French culture and mannerisms that you should be using daily.
- Your location – commencez immédiatement
Paris, although one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is only 6 miles across, meaning that accommodation can be extremely hard to find. Start planning accommodation months in advance. To be truthful, it does not really matter where you are in Paris because the metro is so easily accessible, and the Navigo pass (76 euros per month, 35 for students) means you can hop on and off the metro/RER as often as you like. Like every other major city, Paris does have its rough spots, so it is well worth doing your research before you put pen to paper on any accommodation.
Useful websites for finding accommodation include:
Appartager: http://www.appartager.com (Highly recommended)
Se Loger: http://www.Seloger.com
Particulier à particulier: http://www.pap.fr/
- Join Erasmus Groups – Une excellente façon de se faire des amis !
One of the best things about the year abroad is the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over the world. To get a head start, join as many Erasmus groups on Facebook as you can. This is a great way to find different events in Paris and a chance to network with people before you get out there; hence making the settling in period that bit easier. People who tend not to enjoy their year abroad are usually those who stay within the same friend group they went out to France with. Broaden your horizons and be open to new possibilities.
For me personally, I went out on my own during the first two weeks to different events and clubs, it is so easy to start conversations with people and make new friends. It’s a great opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and to improve your confidence and communication skills! You have to remember that most erasmus students are in the same boat as you, and would love to meet new people too.
- Duolingo – Votre nouveau meilleur ami
I cannot recommend this app highly enough. If you want to learn French, this is THE app you need. It teaches you different phrases and reinforces them in your brain via constant testing and repetition. Unlike other apps, Duolingo doesn’t feel like you’re doing work and its actually rather addictive! The more you use it, the more you are rewarded on the app, and you can practice whenever and wherever you are!
Because you will be meeting a lot of European erasmus students, this app is also a good way to learn other languages such as Italian, Irish and Spanish, so if you want to impress them too, download the app and learn a few languages!
- Talk to people who have been there and done it – Souvenez-vous que vous n’êtes pas seul
As scary as it can be moving to a different country, with a different culture, a different language, you can take assurance in the fact that many people have done it before you and had THE best time. The best way to find out what to expect, especially in the integration period, is to ask those who have successfully completed their year abroad. Check with your university to find people who are currently in Paris and email them, politely, asking for their advice. 9/10 times, they will be more than happy to advise you given that they probably wished they had someone to help them at that stage too!
Anything else? – D’autres questions?
It is often said that if you are absolutely hating the experience in the first month, it means that you are well on your way to the best year of your life! To summarise, remember why you are going, be open minded about the experience and make the most of it, your eramus year only happens once! Bonne chance à tous!