Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Chris C. - Paris, France - Spring 2013

Stereotypes and Misconceptions of Paris

Hello my fellow Elmhurst colleagues and study-abroaders! My name is Chris and I am a sophomore currently spending my spring semester in Paris, France!  In this blog I wanted to address some important things that I was uncertain and nervous about before coming to Paris. About one month ago before I arrived, I was totally nervous. I was excited to see the world and I knew I would love the experience, but I was still very afraid. I had never left the county before and I had forgotten much of the French I had taken in High School. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to talk to people, I would get lost, I would get mugged, I would struggle living on my own, my classes would be hard, and that I would feel very lonely and homesick. I’m sure that many of you have these same fears and maybe other ones too. However, DO NOT let this deter you from studying abroad!
Whenever I told people I was going to Paris, so many people were excited for me, but there were also many naysayers that did a good job of scaring me. They would warn me that it was unsafe or say things, “oh well you know that the French hate Americans right?” I always listened to them because I had never been and some of them had been to Paris before. However, I’m going to tell you right now, do not listen to people who have never been to the country you are going! Let me inform you of a few things I’ve already learned being here:
·         In my experience here so far in Paris, not one person has been directly rude or snobbish to me. Everyone hears that the French hate Americans, and I do not believe that. People are harder to read because they are more private and they don’t smile, but most people get excited when I tell them I am from America.
·         Others told me that the French hate speaking English. That is also a stereotype. Some people recognize instantly that my accent is different and speak in English willingly and happily. If I don’t know how to say something in French I might ask in English and they have always been nice if they respond back in English.
·         As long as you act smart and responsibly, you will not get robbed (in Paris).  The only people I know of who lost their phone or had it stolen were drunk when it happened.
·         Listen to Alice! She has traveled and she knows it all. Pretty much everything she said in class has been true or has helped me out over here.
Okay, that’s all for now. I have my French midterm tomorrow. Time is flying by!! Relax, do your research, and turn in all your forms on time or early! Please ask Alice for my contact information if you would like to email me personally if you have questions about studying abroad!

Cannibal Corpse! It was my fifth time seeing them and I got to meet one of the guitarists afterwards 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

CPP250 says Hi, Chris!


5:18 PM  
Blogger Chris Conway said...

Hi Alice! ;)


1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice! I am going to Paris next year, and I can't wait! I have had a lot of adults say things that have made me a little nervous about going, but after reading your entry I feel much better about my decision. Thanks again!

Delaney Ritter CPP 250

3:06 PM  
Blogger Chris Conway said...

Great! You won't regret it!

Chris Conway

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! It seems like you are having such an amazing time! Great advice and clarification of the common stereotypes, too. Makes me wonder how people could have such wrong ideas about Paris.

Would you mind sharing a bit about the "culture shock" you have experienced? How have you dealt with the crazy changes and potential obstacles of living in a foreign country?

-Hillary S. CPP 250

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paris sounds amazing! It's nice to hear that stereotypes aren't always right. I am studying in Scotland next semester and hope to visit Paris. If you have any suggestions of where to go or what to see, I'm all ears!

Katie T, CPP 250

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that all the stereotypes aren't true and that you have been able to communicate despite the foreign language. Those are definitely two things that I am worried about!

Elizabeth M. -CPP 250

1:26 PM  
Blogger Chris Conway said...

Hillary - I don't know if I ever really experienced culture shock to be honest! Its hard to say. Coming here was a pretty smooth transition. I am here through IES and they do a good job of easing you into life here, I didn't start classes till two weeks after I got here. All of the people at the IES center where I take classes speak English and they really want to help, so whenever I have any sort of question about traveling, shopping, or culture I can ask them.
Once in a while I will be in a restaurant or a store and the employees will mumble something to me really fast and I won't understand. If Im totally lost I'll tell them (in French) that I don't speak well and then they understand and either move on or say it in English. Sometimes I feel a little stupid and embarrassed, but after 15 minutes you forget about it and it's almost as if it never happened. Don't let little things like that get to you. Besides that, I can't think of a time when I have felt really out of place or stressed.
You will adjust to life in your country no matter where you go. You will figure out the public transportation, shopping, and all of that so don't worry!

Katie - yes you should come visit Paris! I love the whole Notre Dame area, its in the 5th arrondissement of Paris and its right along the Seine river. There are tons of little restaurants right there and my favorite place to go is a Jazz club called Caveau de La Huchette. Its right there by Notre Dame. I love Jazz and they have groups play every night and tons of people swing dance. It actually used to be a dungeon back in the day so its this big stone cave and it has a very cool atmosphere!!


Chris Conway

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tentatively I will be attending The University of Ulster in Londonderry, Northern Ireland this coming Fall. I was wondering what your own experience with culture shock was like when you arrived in France.

Megan S. CPP-250

9:02 PM  
Blogger Damon Holst said...

YO DAWG. I need help choosing my classes. I'm going to chat you on facebook tomorrow so you can help me! Can't wait for May but you keep enjoying yourself until then!

Damon AKA your love.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I also need advice to how to choose the right classes. I am going to talk to Damon (he's in my class). But what would you recommend taking??

Delaney Ritter

3:07 PM  
Blogger Chris Conway said...


Everyone here takes 4 classes, French being one of them. There is Introductory, Beginners, 3 levels of Intermediate, and advanced French. You will take 5 classes if you are in advanced French because it is one less credit hour or something.

Theres plenty of business classes that will satisfy anything you need for your major. Dr. Wilson in the business department is very easygoing and will help you get credit for whatever business classes you need.

I would recommend to take a class involving France as well. There are two Art History classes here that people love. You get to go on walks all the time and explore architecture. Im in a class called Media in France and the EU which is very interesting, very discussion based and I really like it.

You can also choose to take one class at Novancia business school here. When I was applying it said that all the classes were taught in French so I didn't bother applying or anything, However, when we got here they told us they are all taught in English! So I am not in one after all but I have friends who are and they really seem to like them. You will meet French students and see what a French class/lecture is like. I hope this helps, let me know what other questions you have!


7:05 AM  

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