Bonjour!!! My Name is Ronald Hobbs, and I am currently a senior at Purdue University Calumet where I study history. I am studying abroad in Paris, France for the fall semester at the Institut Catholique de Paris through ISA. While I am here in this amazing place I will be sharing with you my many adventures (taking the metro every day is a big adventure!!), some tips for being abroad, many of my personal experiences, and random musing from my day-to-day life while in Paris. I hope that you follow my journey and follow me with #RonAbroad! Au revoir!!
This post is about the good, the bad, and the ugly of being in a place that is literally foreign to you, whether it’s Paris or even a big city in the USA. I will also talk about several of the more touristy type activities I’ve experienced so far and my classes so far.
First, I will talk about the ugly. During my second week in Paris, I got pick pocketed not once, but TWICE! The first time they did not get anything of real importance since my gym membership card and student ID are both easily replaceable. The second time, though, the person got my debit card. The pickpockets in Europe and abroad are like wizards. In the span of just a few seconds they were able to tell from all of the cards in my pocket which one was my bank card. Here are a few tips on how to avoid this!
1. Secure your valuables. Do not keep stuff in your back pockets. Keep them either in your front pockets or in the inner most pocket of a messenger bag. You can also get one of those hidden pockets that loop around your belt and can be tucked into your pants. While you may want to be fashionable and wear a backpack, I would suggest investing in a messenger bag that zips and straps closed.
2. Be mindful on public transit and when you’re at popular sites. If someone stops you to sign a petition, there is a possibility that they are working with someone else that is going to steal your stuff, so avoid them or do as I do and completely ignore them.
3. Travel wallets are your friends. They take forever to open since they have Velcro and zip close but definitely worth the extra time!
4. Try and carry only the amount of cash that you will need for a specific outing when going out. While extra cash is good to have sometimes it is better to just budget yourself and stick to a certain amount for that day.
Now the slightly bad/annoying. My first week or so was a little weird since I did not know my way around Paris. There are a few things that still annoy me about the city. Streets are not labeled as clearly as they are back home, same with addresses. Also, none of the map have the cardinal directions! Not to mention, there is an extreme lack of public toilets, and also a lack of water fountains in this city. These are just minor annoyances but I seriously hate not knowing which way is north! The last bit of bad/annoying is about my courses. My French economics and politics class are really interesting, but four hours is such a long time for a class! And my French course is difficult for me, but as they say, nothing worth it comes easily!
Now onto – The Good! I have gone to several fun places this past month. Some were with ISA and others I ventured out and saw by myself. So far I have gone to Notre Dame, the Louvre, Fontainebleau, Loire Valley, the catacombs, and a few other places. So far my favorite place has been The Louvre. It is by far the best musuem I have ever been to. There are so many things to see there and you could literally spend at least three days exploring the whole thing! I spent 5 hours there when I went, and I still have a little more than half of the museum to see! One of my favorite parts about visiting the Louvre was finally being able to see my favorite sculpture ever – The Winged Victory of Samothrace. It is a breath taxingly beautiful sculpture and I got misty eyed just seeing it in person.
A similar thing happened when I saw Notre Dame. It is seriously such an amazing sight that it will move you even if you’re like me and not religious.
Finally, I have also gone on a few trips with ISA. One was to Fontainebleau, a French chateau where royalty lived, and Loire Valley, where I spent an entire weekend. On these trips I had a blast and we got to see some beautiful chateaus, one of which is said to have inspired the castle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and taste some amazing cheese and wine! So far I am really having the time of my life!
I look forward to telling you about more of my adventures to come! Stay tuned for my next post and follow #RonAbroad on GoEnnounce and Twitter!