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/ February 2, 2010
NYU Study Abroad Guide: Paris

eiffelNote: Because study abroad application deadlines for Fall ‘10 are fast approaching, every posting day from February 1 to February 12, we’ll be featuring a different NYU Study Abroad site to help you decide where you want to be constantly drunk for the coming semester. Check them all out here.

I spent last semester in Paris, eating pastries, playing open mics, and lamenting the terrible expensiveness of almost everything. But I loved it, and would have stayed a full year if I wasn’t majoring in two things that were not French or art history (and totally eager to jump back into NYU Local, of course). France is one of those places where you will likely experience most of the negative stereotypes you can think of – being stranded by a debilitating métro strike, having cigarette ashes flicked upon your shoes by disdainful, glamorous women, being taunted by the French for saying obnoxiously American things. But it’s also a place where it’s not all too difficult to make the positive stereotypes come true as well – making out under the Eiffel Tower, carrying a warm baguette home every morning, drinking wine on the Seine in the moonlight. Some other students that recently studied at NYU in Paris and I share our experiences below.

Types of Classes Offered:
* Literature
* Cinema
* History
* Political Science
* Anthropology
* Sociology
* Philosophy
* Art History

Don’t let that list above fool you – every class is geared towards French culture, and sometimes art history. It’s difficult to find classes that will fulfill requirements for other majors, though it is possible. In general, classes are more demanding than you think – the program is divided into Program I (for students who have not taken up to Conversation and Composition), where the classes are in English, and Program II (for students who have taken beyond that), where the classes are in French. Advanced French speakers can take classes at the Sorbonne or Sciences Po.

Student Activities

NYU does a pretty good job of giving students things for free (weekend trips, wine and cheese “tastings”) – or at least, they do a good job of giving the illusion of giving students things for free (we pay $50,000 to go here, remember?). In any case, having a fancy Thanksgiving dinner on the Eiffel Tower with no charge to us was pretty badass.


My advice to you: don’t choose a homestay or residence hall; choose an apartment with a roommate. There were rare people who loved their host families, but most had some kind of problem, like my friends who were forced to tie up their hair while they ate dinner. My host mother accused us of stealing tupperware and breaking dishes, and not using the toilet paper. She also told us that gays were pretty much the bane of society.

I would have improved my French more if I had an apartment where I could have invited French friends over to hang out. And some of the apartments NYU sets people up with were truly, truly swank.


Nightlife wasn’t bad if you knew were to go, but the métro closing at 12:30 or 1:30 (depending on the night) caused some serious inconvenience.


French food can be incredible, but the French are pretty much terrible at food that isn’t from their own country. You find yourself going through horrific Asian food cravings.

Sex and Dating

True story: I met a French boy who made out with an American girl once, and we and a bunch of other people went to the bar where she worked for her birthday. Surprise, she ignored him the whole night. It had to be explained to him that she was American and making out meant nothing to her. Result: heartbroken French boy. The moral of the story is that Frenchies seem to get attached pretty quickly, resulting in a lot of post-hook-up texting cascades that are often overwhelming for Americans.

Another true story: It’s not too difficult to snag a hot French boyfriend if you are willing to go out and do things on your own.


Culture Shock

Why You Should Go

Paris is a city in which you feel the weight of its history and culture, and it has a certain pace of life that’s in some ways very different from New York. It’s a beautiful place, and I’d live there if I could.

Why You Shouldn’t Go

Unfortunately, Paris is also a place in which money magically vanishes from your wallet when you breathe in the air. Also, it can be difficult to find classes to fit for your major if you don’t plan it out well.