The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Elizabeth Stotz

I am a sophomore student at Loyola studying Psychology and International Business. For the Spring 2022 semester, I am studying as an exchange student at the Paris School of Business in France. My classes will focus mostly on ethics and international management and to fully immerse myself, I chose to participate in a homestay. I have so much to learn about and I cannot wait to lean in and challenge myself!
My First Seven Days Abroad – Unfiltered

My First Seven Days Abroad – Unfiltered

As anyone would expect, moving to another country for five months during a pandemic comes with many complications. This is also my first time traveling outside of the United States – I know I skipped a few steps – so I faced whole second set of challenges awaiting my arrival in Paris.

That being said, my journey to get here started fifteen days before my flight when I was exposed to a positive Covid case. Upon immediately testing negative, I began full isolation testing again on day 3, 5 and 7 from exposure. I never contracted Covid (yay booster shots and KN-95s) and spent my last two weeks at home, by myself, toasting to the new year in a bathrobe and slippers. The day before my flight, I took my last negative test, gathered all the necessary paperwork to cross the border and said goodbye to my family (outdoors and in masks).

My flight was relatively smooth (minus the fact that it was a redeye so I did not sleep at all) and I arrived in Paris on January 12th around 12h00. The first moment of culture shock occurred when I was greeted by signs written entirely in French. My brain switched to 24/7 translation in that moment and has yet to switch back. My car arrived at the airport and I was able to exchange niceties with the driver in somewhat broken French. My host mother (Drissia, she’s a main character in my life here and should be treated with such respect) and her dog, Talia, welcomed me as I clumsily carried my suitcases into the apartment. Before I could unpack, I met two other international students who share the apartment and was whisked away to a lunch with friends. A lot of small stresses happened that I will not get into but my first 24 hours in Paris consisted of trying to learn the entire French language in 10 minutes, jet lag, getting a metro pass, validating my visa, purchasing toiletries, getting another negative Covid test, switching my SIM card and meeting a lot of people. Due to the lack of sleep, I may have cried once but it was purely out of exhaustion.

So the language barrier – I speak English and a good bit of Spanish but I have never taken a French class. I taught myself as much as I could using the internet and my roommate at home (shout out to Lauren Pfleuger who is currently in Rome) before arriving but not nearly enough. Many hospitality services here speak English, but the French are very proud of their language and I want to respect their willingness to welcome me into their country by learning their language and culture with humility. At my host home, we only speak French at dinner so I listen to French conversation for two hours a day, and I ask questions as frequently as possible. Drissia, a queen truly, also sits with me for an hour or two every day to teach me to write and read French as well. I have been here for a week and I can now carry out a short, pleasant conversation in French as well as navigate any business interactions without switching to English – a small step but an important one.

On the other side a a few full nights of sleep and gaining confidence in a new language, I have gone out and about with friends and on my own to see the beauty of Paris. I indulged in a few tourist stereotypes (the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Cœur, baguettes and croissants) but I also explored my new home in the 11th arrondissement finding my favorite pâtisseries, grocery stores, bars and parks to walk in. Also, I must admit that the love for baguettes and croissants is not a false stereotype; every French household I have visited has a baguette or two sitting on their kitchen table and pâtisseries are packed with locals every hour of the day ordering a croissant, tarte or other treat of choice. In general, Paris is beginning to feel like a new home with the big city opportunities of Chicago but a different, beautiful language and culture.

If you want to see more of the glossy, edited highlights of my time here I will be flooding my Instagram with photo dumps regularly @ellie.stz

If you find yourself in the 11th arrondissement of Paris check out…

  • The Dirty Lemon : a small bar with excellent food and drinks, great for grabbing a table with friends or grabbing a stool by yourself
  • Tout Autour du Pain : a fantastic boulangerie with Drissia’s stamp of approval (which is very difficult to earn as she studied the art of pastries for several years and has tried world renowned recipes)
  • By the République metro station, there is an open park for sitting, skating and admiring where you are.
  • Kott Cafe : a coffee place with expensive lattes (so only go if you want to treat yourself) but the kindest owners who love to welcome all people