It was my junior year at NYU when my professor recommended me to do a semester abroad at the Universite Paris Dauphine. Due to my affection for baguettes, I readily agreed.
The admission process was simple – an application form, a transcript and permission from my economics professors to make sure my core courses would be equivalent to NYU credits. I paid the same tuition as I did at NYU, which also included boarding.
A challenge for first-time international students is adjusting to the living conditions. My residence in Paris was a 5-minute commute to the university, but it was also half the size of my 400 square feet apartment in New York. Thankfully, it meant I didn’t have to spend a lot of money decorating the place.
It’s a good idea to travel light when you first get to your host country. Once you get familiarized with the territory, ask the locals to bring you to a cheaper shopping place outside of downtown Paris to load up on living essentials.
Paris has a history of engendering some of the best philosophers and artists of our time, and its institutions carry on that tradition. From the moment I stepped into the arches of the university, I felt transported back in time. Roman sculptures and ancient textbooks filled the schoolyard, and students actually dressed up to go to class.
My professors were mostly elderly spectacled gentlemen who taught our class of 15 students with an air of authority. Most were kind enough to explain the concepts again to me in broken English. My peers were all intellectuals who were interested in life of “zee A-may-ri-cans”. I felt that they were genuinely interested in learning, as they devoted much of their after-class time discussing the world economy over cups of espresso, something I had never experienced in the learn-to-work culture at NYU.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do
Other than waking up to freshly baked croissants every morning, I wanted to live like a Parisian. My friends would take me into their homes to cook me authentic French food. Every week, I’d get an unlimited daily Metro pass to visit the historic corners of Paris that were beyond the pages of my Lonely Planet. Thanks to this philosophy, I dearly cherish my memories of studying in France.