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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Column: Aggie Abroad

Victoria+Rivas+and+her+American+friends+enjoy+a+picnic+by+the+Eiffel+Tower.
Victoria Rivas and her American friends enjoy a picnic by the Eiffel Tower.

After months of meticulous research, planning and document signing, after the hours spent in attempts to gain any ounce of the French language, I finally made it to Paris, where I’ve been studying abroad for the past two weeks.
As I prepared for my study abroad, I formed certain expectations about my experience, some positive and some negative. However, my life as a student in Paris so far has not always run parallel to these expectations.
Initially, one of the concerns I had regarding my trip to Paris was the costs associated with traveling to and living in another country. I thought it was going to be too expensive. Texas A&M Study Abroad advisor Jane Flaherty said although this is the most common misconception among A&M students, there are many financial solutions.
“Many students think they cannot afford a study abroad program, however scholarship support is available,” Flaherty said. “The University provides study abroad scholarships, and many colleges also provide study abroad scholarships.”
Tuition and travel expenses are not the only costs incurred. Food and leisure expenses are yet another cost to consider. In my homestay, my host mother cooks breakfast and dinner Sunday through Thursday. I am on my own for all of my lunches, as well as breakfast and dinners on Fridays and Saturdays.
Before my departure to Paris, I expected food to have through-the-roof prices.
However, I learned that there are cheap and delicious solutions to find great, quality food, at a more appealing price. While eating at the ideal, picturesque café on the street corner is nice for a short vacation; it is expensive and impractical for the average meal, which for me, is on a college budget.
Instead, food stands and open air markets are the way to go. They offer some of the freshest produce and quality French food at least half of the price of a café. What’s even better is that after you buy a piece of fruit from a market, or crepe from the stand, you can enjoy it on a beautiful summer day in the park with all of your classmates (my personal favorite is the Tuileries Gardens right next to the Louvre art museum).
Kaley Trowbridge, senior communication major who is also currently studying abroad in Paris, said she enjoys finding ways to dine on a college budget.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to go eat at a patisserie [a French pastry shop],” Trowbridge said. “You can get a really good pastry there for pretty cheap, instead of a café.”
Another worry I had about Paris was how I would be treated by the Parisians.
Time after time, I’ve heard rumors and stereotypes of how the locals have a strong distaste for Americans, and that they are nothing but disrespectful or unpleasant. Yet, I have found Parisians to be much more welcoming than I’d expected.
Just the other night, several American and Parisian students and I went to a picnic at the Eiffel Tower that my friend’s French host brother put together.We joked and laughed, listened to music and discussed the differences and similarities between American and French culture.
I even feel welcome in my French class. My teacher, a native Parisian, always has a patient and understanding smile on her face, no matter how much I butcher her native beautiful mother tongue. Instead of being abrupt and hostile, I’ve noticed the Parisians to be warm and welcoming, so long as you are respectful of their time and culture.

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  • Victoria Rivas and her American friends enjoy a picnic by the Eiffel Tower.

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