This guide will give you an insight into the study-life balance and living with new, unfamiliar people. As an international student, you will be able to meet a lot of interesting people either in class, at a class tour or you may be sharing the same room or apartment.
I was lucky enough to encounter the perfect roommate and suite-mates. We all came from different walks of life. Our different cultures and backgrounds brought us together. It’s common for people to meet some of their closest friends during their time abroad. I feel lucky to say that I found my good friends in my roommates.
Some our favorite activities to do together were to cook, chat and bond over Sunday brunch, picnic and relax in Champs de Mar or stand on the bridge closest to our home (this was Pont du Garigliano-located in 15th district) from where the sparkling Eiffel Tower was visible at midnight.
One of my roommates, a pastry chef, who was from Mexico, had enrolled herself in the famous Cordon Bleu school in Paris. She was an expert in French desserts, breads and pies. One time we made quiche together. To suit our different preferences we put shrimp with broccoli on one side and mutton with spinach on the other. It turned out absolutely delicious!
In the beginning it was challenging to balance studies with free time for exploration along with jet lag! We were in classes at ESCE from Monday to Friday 9.30-4.30pm. During our first week, we would head home right away, exhausted after a full day of classes! But gradually we acclimated to the new routine.
Once we were settled into our new environment, after classes we allotted the rest of the evening either to explore or work on a group project. This way most of the work was completed during the week. We would manage our time in such a way that during the weekends we weren’t stressed.
It’s very helpful if you know locals in a new city. My Parisian family friends whom I have known for years now connected with me and every weekend they would take me to different neighborhoods to try out various foods. They’d advise me on the best things to do and the right foods to try. Following their advice, I was able to show my roommates around the city and go to new eateries.
We were lucky to be in Paris during Bastille Day weekend (July 14). The celebrations were iconic. My advice would be to not to go too close to the Eiffel tower to watch the fireworks display. People begin queuing early in the day. Once you are there, getting out and getting home soon will be difficult. My roommates and I stood on the bridge close to our home. We got a spectacular view and were able to get home rather quickly!
Even though the semester and this experience has ended, the people who I met for the first time or got to know better through this journey will be connections worth keeping!