picnicking on the Seine
More than 17,000 students head to Paris each year to study. We asked Ariana Mozafari from California who worked as my research assistant on my book Paris Cocktails (due out 9/8/15) how to make the most of it. Ariana is living, studying and working part-time in Paris for the next few years. She has settled in well, found a terrific apartment and even a French boyfriend, who might know how to share her tips on how to study abroad in Paris and enjoy it to the fullest?
1. Parlez-vous Français? Brush up on some basic French before making your move across the globe. My tip is to download apps for your phone that teach languages through simple games and exercises. It’s easy to improve when you can constantly level up on the metro or in between classes.
a. Try Duolingo, a free, simple, and super comprehensive app that starts from the basics.
b. I also recommend MindSnacks, a paid app that teaches you French with interactive games.
Le Perchoir bar, the original rooftop bar Photo by Ariana M.
2. Hit the bars. Here’s your playground for meeting the good-looking artists, students, and bachelors of Paris. You’ll have a harder time meeting people and making connections at a bass-heavy club where people tend to segregate themselves in clumps around “tables.” There are hundreds of amazing bars in Paris that offer totally different atmospheres.
a. Into dancing? Wear casual sneakers to Bastille’s Rue de Lappe and prepare yourself for a workout.
b. Cocktail connoisseur? You can meet people easily at Paris’ many craft cocktail bars, from world-renowned Experimental Cocktail Club to Josephine, a tattoo parlor and cocktail bar.
Modern Art Museum, Paris photo by worldtoptop.com
3. Lose yourself in art. Paris has been the “avant-garde” center throughout history, which means that artists from across the globe are drawn here to perform and put on exhibits. Fancy an exhibit on tattoo art? Or maybe you’re more of a jazz music junky? Paris will never fail to please your creative interests.
a. Paris Bouge will help you find anything and everything going on in the city, from city-organized urban biking parties to street food festivals.
b. FNAC will help you keep up-to-date on the latest festivals, concerts, and exhibits in Paris.
the one! photo by Ariana M.
4. Be shameless with the photos, but don’t forget to savor the moment. This may be the only time in your life that you’ll be living in one of the world’s most romantic, picturesque cities. So snap that selfie with the Eiffel Tower. Filter the crap out of those 70 cappuccino pics to find the perfect one. Be aware and observant of all the miniscule details that make Paris such a gorgeous city, but don’t feel ashamed to whip out your camera to capture Paris’ simple beauties. Here are some great filtering apps to be armed with at all times:
a. VSCO – professionals to amateurs use this app for filters that will give your photo a fresh Polaroid feel.
b. Afterlight – another great app with a wider selection of filters and crops for your editing pleasure.
photo via AUP.com
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. So what if you ask if there are preserfatifs (condoms) in the jam? Laugh off your mistakes and never be afraid to speak the language. This is the best opportunity you’ll ever have to become fluent in French. Those who leave Paris having made a tight social crew of hip Parisians are those who are friendly and open to speaking with others. Put yourself out there and life may give you a fabulous return. To meet people, I recommend these tips:
a. Find out if there are any French-English student conversational exchanges set up through your school. This is a great way to make foreign going-out friends and finding your French sweetheart.
stopping to chat
b. French people may rarely look like they want to have a conversation with you, but smile and be open and initiate engagement—you’ll find that they’re actually some of the most friendly and inviting people around. Plus, trust me when I say they’ll swoon over a broken French accent. It’s sexy apparently.
Stay tuned for five more key tips coming next week.
Ariana Mozafari is the founder and editor of Paris Chic, a blog for Parisian travelers who dream of more than pink macaroons and Eiffel Tower selfies.