Why You Should Study Abroad in Paris

Let’s state the obvious – Paris is one of the most beautiful and influential cities in the world. Everyone knows Paris from the romanticized iconic persona the city has created for itself in popular movies– or at least they think they do.

The real title of this article should read “Why You Should Study Abroad in Paris… Depending on Who You Are.” Just because you love Paris, doesn't mean Paris is necessarily the best place for you to study abroad. However, if you are already in love with Paris and are ready to take your relationship with the city of lights to the next level, you should prepare yourself for the experience of your life. 

You may have noticed that many college advisors don't advertise study abroad programs in Paris – and there’s a reason for that. It’s not that they don’t think Paris is an incredible place. It’s that unlike other more popular study abroad cities, Paris will not “spoon-feed” itself to you. Paris will push you around and beat you down until you’ve shown your full-force love and commitment. That might not make sense now, but it will.

In short, the same qualities about Paris that make some people dislike the city, are the same characteristics that make others love it. 

You’ve probably heard the stereotype that Parisians are rude, snobby, and are kind of unsocialable. While this stereotype does have understandable roots, it is definitely not the truth. Unlike the impression you may get from mental images of delicate flowers surrounding the Eiffel Tower in the springtime and prettiness of cobblestone streets, Parisians are not fluffy people and they will not coddle you. They are blunt and always give it to you straight. A Parisian might not be approachable and warm, greeting you with a bright eyes and a welcoming smile, but, when they are kind to you – it’s a genuine sort of kindness. Parisians value full sincerity over forced niceness – and that’s exactly why we love them.

If you’re looking for the best nightlife of your college life, Paris might leave you disappointed. That being said, nights out in Paris can be amazing. Think – the New York City club scene. The bouncers will know you’re a foreigner -- if not with just one look at you, with the first word that comes out of your mouth with a misguided attempt at a French accent. Once they realize this, you might suffer a cover charge that brings you to question if it’s even worth it. Then, once you get in, it’s difficult to meet and hold a substantial conversation with a Parisian if the music is loud, your French isn’t near fluency, and/or you’re slightly intoxicated (but sometimes that last part can be unexpectedly helpful). The best nights out are spent getting wine drunk at restaurants where you have 9:30 PM reservations followed by aimlessly getting lost on Paris’s streets, just appreciating how beautiful it all is.

We're going to end this article with a quote from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. If this quote resonates with you, you should probably be studying abroad in Paris.

You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exists, these lights, I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafés, people drinking and singing. For all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.
— "Midnight in Paris"

The people who love Paris are the people who genuinely enjoy walking through a museum, who are not afraid to feel alienated at times and go outside their comfort zone, and above all, have thick skin. Choosing where to study abroad is a huge life decision as a college student, as you will be spending an entire four months in a city that will become a special second home – so you need to choose wisely. Paris will challenge you and change you, and if you let it, you will be forever in love.