Top 10 Things you Should do Before Studying Abroad

Pre-Departure Paris Prep!

Hey y’all, my name is Victoria Mercado-Lues and I’m currently a freshman majoring in studio arts. I’ll be going to the USF Art & Art History Program and will be spending the next 3 weeks exploring the city of Paris! Before I depart, there are some important things I have to prepare before I leave so I complied a list of must-do things before going to study abroad!

Victoria’s Ultimate Pre-Departure To Do List

  1. Check the Weather
    • I’m traveling to Paris in late May/early June so it’s important that I pack the right clothes. It’ll be as low as the 50s and as high as the 70s. I have to keep in mind that it’ll get warmer in June too. There will also be no air conditioning like there is here in Florida!
  2. Currency Exchange
    • Order currency from your bank (for me it will be USD to Euros). You can exchange currency at the airport or while you are in Paris but it won’t be as economic
  3. Get Credit Cards in Order
    • My bank imposes a foreign transaction fee on my normal credit card so I will use a travel rewards card while I’m abroad. I would also recommend contacting your bank before you leave so that way they won’t freeze your cards for suspicious activity
  4. Sim Card vs International Phone Plan
    • International phone plans and sim cards at the airport are expensive, so when I get to Paris I’ll go to a Free Mobile store and buy a sim card with 210 GB of data for $30 which will give me the most bang for my buck
  5. Order an Outlet Converter
    • America uses type A and B outlets while France uses type C and E, so I ordered an outlet converter on Amazon. The last thing you want is to be in a foreign country with a dead phone and laptop!
  6. Learn Common/basic phrases in the host country’s language
    • If you are out at dinner you’ll want to know how to ask for the check or ask for more water so learn the basics!
  7. Cultural Differences 
    • You don’t want an awkward faux pas because you didn’t research ahead of time
    • In France always say bonjour when talking to someone or entering a store and then au revoir for when you leave. They also don’t use plastic bags in France so bring a tote bag for grocery runs
  8. Research Things to be Wary of 
    • Paris is a huge tourist location, so there are a LOT of pickpockets. Use preventative measures like not putting your phone in your back pocket. If it’s easy for you to access it then it’s easy for a thief to snatch it as well. 
  9. Make a Monument List
    • When I’m there I know I’ll get caught up in our excursions and classwork. It’ll be overwhelming so I want to make sure I write everything I want to do down and check it off as I go so I don’t miss anything. This includes sightseeing because some of the monuments I wanted to see like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe aren’t on our itinerary, so I’m making a note to make time to go see them outside of our planned activities. 
  10. Make a list of traditional foods to try
    • Finally, I am compiling a list of traditional foods I want to try like escargot, macarons, pastries, croissants, and baguettes. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m super excited about my upcoming trip to Paris. It has been on my bucket list since I was young but I never thought that I would get to check it off so soon. It will also be my first time flying alone on the longest flight I’ve been on with around a total of 12 hours of travel! This trip will be a great time to brush up on the 4 years of French I took in high school and really get the chance to immerse myself in the culture and language.

About the Author

Victoria Mercado-Lues is a sophomore, pursuing their BFA in studio arts with a concentration in painting. In the future, they hope to work as a freelance illustrator, open a small business, and have their work curated for museums! Check out their Instagram to follow their progress @victorias.studio.art

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