Studying Abroad in Paris, France.

I’ve been home for a little over a month, and I think it’s time I write my “study abroad” experience blog post. Where do I even begin?

What an incredible experience. I am SO HAPPY I took the plunge and decided to follow my dreams of studying abroad. I think I picked the BEST place to study. I fell in love with Paris, but let’s be honest- who doesn’t fall in love with the city of lights? It’s charming, the wine is amazing, and everywhere you turn it’s visually pleasing. The Parisian buildings, famous landmarks, and museums made me never want to leave.

I had picnics by the Eiffel Tower (something I’ll never forget) with wine, cheese, and baguettes, enjoyed wild nights out in Bastille with amazing friends, and enjoyed drinking coffee at my favorite cafe called Radiodays. Life in Paris for 4 months was a complete DREAM.

I found myself there. I gained my confidence back, I learned how to be independent again, and I chased adventure. For the first time in a very long time, I felt happy and free. I felt like I could accomplish anything. This is my biggest take away from studying abroad. I was able to reinvent myself, and focus completely on myself. I had just gotten out of a long term relationship, and going to Paris when I did was the best thing ever. It put a lot of things into perspective, and for the first time in years, I was single!

I made friends for life. Before going abroad, I was so nervous to meet new people. I am pretty reserved and mostly always to myself, so to my surprise I made a ton of friends. I traveled to different countries with them- and we experienced different cultures together. It was hard saying goodbye to these people, because most of them live on the East Coast! But one day, I plan on visiting them all and having a little reunion. I miss them all so much.

I finally can say I’ve been to Europe. For the longest time I’ve been itching to travel to Europe. I’d watch “House Hunters International” on HGTV, and record the episodes that were specifically in Europe. Places like Paris, London, Madrid, Milan, Prague and more were calling my name. Studying abroad in Paris meant that it was easy to travel to other surrounding countries (a huge BONUS)! So, as you all know from prior blog posts I was able to go to: Amsterdam, London, Barcelona, Nice & Cannes, Venice, Rome, Naples, and Marseille. This was me traveling on a budget and having limited money… I was so fortunate to be able to see all those beautiful cities. I cannot wait to go back and explore the places I didn’t get to visit. Now that I’ve had a little taste of traveling, I want more!

School/Fun ratio was perfect. The American Business School of Paris is where I attended for Spring semester. I took a full load (12 units), and had more than enough downtime to travel, have fun, and enjoy the city life. I had class Tuesday, Thursday and Friday’s. I loved having three day weekends; it truly was the best. I liked the school, and loved how many different nationalities went there! I got to meet all kinds of people, from all over.

If I could go back to Paris, I would in a heartbeat. I’m actually still dealing with withdrawals and coming down from my Paris high- as I call it. I hope to go back to Europe when I graduate from college next fall. I’d love to backpack for 3 months or so, but obviously that all depends on finances & where I’m at in my life. BUT- that’s the goal. I must go back! Some places I’d love to see that I didn’t? Switzerland, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Austria, Czech Republic, Portugal,  Scotland, Ireland, Wales, should I even go on? I’d be down to go ANYWHERE!

I’d tell anyone thinking about studying abroad to DO IT. Jump in, head first. It really did change my life, and opened my eyes to a whole new world. If you have any questions, or would love some advice about Paris- I’d be happy to share my knowledge and experiences. This was a special blog post to write, I hope y’all loved it.

 

xo

ROME, ITALY.

After spending a few days in Venice, I took a train to Rome! I have to say, I had THE BEST TIME in Roma! It was so HOT, and I did so much walking- but so worth it.

Where do I even begin? So, as I said before- Italy was my SOLO-TRIP! I stayed at the yellow. It had a bar right next door, so it’s a great way to meet people! I highly recommend staying there if you want to have a good time. The bar has different theme nights, good drinks + food.

There were a couple of things I just HAD to check off my list:

  1. The Colosseum
  2.  Trevi Fountain
  3.  Spanish Steps

   

If you know me, I’m a HUGE Audrey Hepburn fan, and Roman Holiday is one of my favorite movies. Sitting on the Spanish Steps was so surreal. It was beyond beautiful. I wish I got a picture of myself sitting on the steps– but truthfully, I didn’t trust giving anyone my iPhone! That was my only lifeline (I used google maps to get everywhere! & that was my only way to stay connected with friends + family). So, when I go back to Rome, I’ll for sure get more pictures with myself in them. (i’m assuming i’ll be there with someone! ha!)

 

Now, more gorgeous pictures from Roma!

 

I loved Rome so much. I cannot wait to go back, one day.

 

xo

VENICE, ITALY.

My last adventure living in Europe was my solo-trip to ITALY! I flew into Venice & stayed a few nights. I stayed in a quiet hostel, with 2 other people in the room. It was called Dimora Il Valiero Romantico. I always book my hostels through Hostelworld, so if you’re interested take a look at their reviews & ratings.

I had the best gelato & pizza I’ve ever tasted! The gondolas were adorable (but pricey) so I didn’t take a ride on one! But if I was with a partner, or friends I totally would have!

 

I island hopped from Murano to Burano & I highly recommend you see it if you go to Venice! It was only about 20 euros to go to both islands. I definitely loved Burano more, because it was so charming with all the colorful houses (you’ll see from my pictures)! But Murano was great because they are known for their Venetian glass.

 

MURANO

 

BURANO

 

 

Venice was a magical city, and something I’m so glad I got to cross off my list of places to see. I know Venice won’t be around forever, so I’m thrilled that I got to experience it.

 

xo

SOUTH OF FRANCE: NICE & CANNES.

As my time in Europe is coming to an end, I had to make my way to the South of France. It was going to be my last trip of the semester- but I pulled the trigger and booked my flight for one last destination… which I can’t wait to blog about (stay tuned!)

My time in Nice & Cannes was amazing. I was blown away by how beautiful the ocean was! Gorgeous aqua blue waters, rustic buildings, and the cutest restaurants.

CANNES:

 

NICE:

Nice had the cutest flea market, I was dying for the pink chair. Too bad I couldn’t take it home with me!

 

The weather was nice! Most of the time I wore a sleeveless shirt. I managed to get a little bit of a tan, too!

 

 

We climbed up to see the views of Nice & the waterfall. It was so worth it! It feels really good to be able to add this to the list of places I’ve seen. My favorite part of the trip was spending time with my girlfriends. Good company, good food, and the best views- what more can a girl ask for?

 

 

xx

BARCELONA.

March 31st- April 4th I made my way to Barcelona. Originally, Spain wasn’t on my list of places I was going to see… but all of my friends kept raving about how gorgeous the city was. So, I said to myself, “why not go?”

The city truly is beautiful, I loved hearing people speaking Spanish & English. The hostel that we stayed at was called MEDITERRANEAN YOUTH HOSTEL. I highly recommend this hostel, as it’s a short metro ride to everything. The staff were very helpful and gave us a map of fun things to see/do, and even gave us recommendations of places to eat. The day we got to Barcelona I had to get some beer, paella, and tapas. We went to a place called BCN Birres i Tapes. It was so GOOD & affordable.

This trip I really wanted to relax, and not jam-pack my day with things to do. I wanted to just walk around the city, eat, and have fun. It worked out perfectly!

Here are some great shots I got in Barcelona:

 

It rained a little bit when we were there, but for the most part it was sunny & warm! I would love to go back to Spain and explore more of Barcelona, and actually make my way to Madrid, Valencia, Granada, and Ibiza.

 

 

We went to Granada Familia, Montjuïc Castle, Parc de la Ciutadella, walked along the beach, went to some clubs, and made friends at our hostel. The Gothic Quarter is also super fun to walk around! Barcelona was everything my friends told me it was, and I was not disappointed! My bloodline on my father’s side is Spanish, so it was fun being in a place where my ancestors came from.

Next trip is probably going to be my last trip, sadly. I’ve had so much fun in Europe, it’s been an absolute dream. I’m forever grateful for these memories and trips.

 

xx

GRATITUDE POST: STUDYING ABROAD.

Today I woke up feeling so beyond grateful and happy. I can’t even put into words how much I’m loving my study abroad experience. I’ve met some incredible people!

I walked to a local cafe called Ten Belles, and I just couldn’t stop smiling. I’m so thankful to be in Europe. I’ve fallen madly in love with Paris. It took me a little while to get adjusted, but once that adjustment period passed— full on love. I’m halfway through the semester, and I don’t even want to think about going home yet. It’s bittersweet. The United States was where I was born, it’ll forever be my home. But I’m starting to think bigger— I would love to live in Europe one day.

Being able to have the opportunity to travel so much is filling my heart with so much happiness. It’s a whole new world for me, one I always wanted to explore. Now I definitely have the “travel bug”. I don’t ever want to stop exploring this beautiful world! There’s still so much I haven’t seen!

I think what makes this experience even more satisfying is knowing I did this all on my own. There’s no better feeling than being self-sufficient and completely independent. It really has been an eye-opening experience; a time to reflect on what I want in life, and to focus on myself for once. I’m a changed person coming out here, and I’ll never be the same. The amount of growth I’ve done in just a short amount of time is truly incredible.

I’m leaving for London tomorrow morning, and I am extremely excited! I am ready to hear British accents, see Big Ben, go to pubs with friends, and just explore what the city has to offer. I will take a lot of pictures, and make a whole blog post about my London trip. So stay tuned!

 

xo

Notre-Dame de Paris.

Today was a beautiful day of walking the streets of Paris. I went to a bookstore to return a few things, and decided to walk to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. It was a 30-minute walk, so I was able to snap a few pictures along the way there. If anyone knows me- they know I am obsessed with flowers! The flower shops here are to die for. I just can’t get over how beautiful everything is!

Above is the Seine River.

The weather wasn’t that bad either- it wasn’t super cold, so I didn’t mind walking 30 minutes! When I first arrived here, I wouldn’t have been able to do that in 30-degree weather. Thankfully today was around 46-48 degrees outside (which is doable for this California girl).

When I see the beauty of this city, it makes me wish I had someone to share it with. Traveling/exploring alone is a different feeling than when you travel with someone else. But I can honestly say- coming to Paris alone is probably the boldest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I am SO PROUD of myself. I am out of my comfort zone, I am challenging myself, and I am depending solely on myself. It’s a new feeling of independence I have never felt before.

 

The Cathedral is absolutely stunning. Seeing it in person, made me want to pinch myself. I was thinking “Wow, am I really here? Am I really in Paris right now?” I guess I’m still in shock! Especially when I see beautiful, historical things that have been around for years and years! I just can’t believe I get to explore such a beautiful and charming city.

 

xo

 

PARIS: WEEK ONE.

I cannot believe I’ve been in Paris for a week and a half already! I have so much to update on, so get a snack & be prepared…

So: the first couple of days in Paris were a little blurry. I was super jet lagged- I have never experienced disorientation like that before. Paris is 9 hours ahead of San Francisco. It took me literally a week to get a good amount of sleep (I kept waking up at 2 a.m. ready to start my day….) But if I’m being honest, I’m still adjusting to the time change. I believe day 2 of being here- I just slept ALL DAY LONG. A total of 17 hours of on/off sleep. Just got up to use the restroom and eat a little something.

Fast forward to day 4: it was a boat tour on the Seine River with my school! It was GORGEOUS…. but it was FREEZING! I sat on the top of the boat for awhile until I went inside to get warm. I think the mixture of the temperature/weather change and traveling got me sick! By the end of the night I started feeling my throat act  a little funny—- and I just knew: fuck, I’m getting sick.

So, let’s talk about the weather here in Paris. I’m from California, so I’m super spoiled with “good” weather. Living in the Bay Area, the weather is mild and doesn’t get that cold. I didn’t even know what COLD was, until I arrived in Paris. I know some people will roll their eyes reading this: but you have to consider where I’m from, and what I’m used to. The first week was FREEZING. I would wake up, and mornings would be 25 degrees out (Fahrenheit). The Canal Saint Martin, right by my flat, was actually partially frozen on top! My landlord even mentioned that it was very rare for that to happen, and it usually isn’t this cold in Paris. By mid-day it would be 34 degrees out, so I’m not used to this weather! Luckily today was a beautiful 53 degrees outside! GLORIOUS! I’ll just say, I cannot wait for Springtime to come!

Another hard thing I’ve had to face is just being alone and depending solely on myself. I am renting my own studio apartment, here in Paris. I have never “lived” completely alone. It’s always been me and my parents, then me and my boyfriend. SO, that’s been a huge adjustment. I don’t have Lola Mae with me- and everyone knows how much I love that little dog. It made me realize how lonely it can get. Lola Mae is in good hands- my parents have agreed to watch her while I’m here in Paris (thanks mom! I know you’re reading this!)

One of the main reasons why I decided to do study abroad— was to get out of my COMFORT ZONE. I have been going on the metro alone, getting around Paris alone, and exploring alone. These are things I’m not used to doing. These are things I’d usually share with someone else. But having these experiences is changing me, and helping me grow as an individual. I wanted this challenge, and Paris has been challenging me a lot…… whew! 

Here are some pretty pictures I’ve taken so far:

*all images are my own. follow me on instagram for more: @krystalinthecity

Another struggle I’ve faced while being here: the language barrier! I feel like the movie, LOST IN TRANSLATION sometimes. It’s so hard not being able to communicate with people on a everyday basis. Of course I’m trying my best, and people have been nice about me speaking English…. while others have not. I guess it just depends on the person. But, I am taking a french class here! So I hope I know more words than: Bonjour, Merci, Au Revior, Pardon, and Parlez-vous anglais?

Let’s see how the next few weeks go! It’s been a total adjustment period: I’m living in a new country alone, and I don’t speak the language. It’s scary. But I’m up for the challenge. I knew this wouldn’t be easy. I know it’s going to be worth it! I know years and years from now, I can tell my kids that I moved to Paris when I was 24 years old, all by myself. I explored the city and ate delicious croissants and macarons! I know I’ll be proud of myself when I do end up looking back at this chapter in my life… so I’m going to soak it all in: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

xo