What do you think?

What do you think?

As I write this, I have been home for a little over three months. Reflecting on the four weeks I spent in Paris, what do I think? Would I recommend other students to go abroad?

Paris has always been somewhere I’ve wanted to visit. For no particular reason, other than wanting to visit the Eiffel Tower. I’ve been obsessed with the Eiffel Tower for as long as I can remember. And let me tell you, it does not disappoint. I visited the Eiffel Tower at least 5 times throughout my time in Paris. When this opportunity arose, I got excited. I took the necessary steps to apply, attended the pre-departure orientation course. Even while taking the pre-departure class, I didn’t really think I was actually going to go. But the further along I went, the more it became a reality. There is a lot of preparation, and it can definitely get overwhelming. I went into this with no expectations, because I didn’t know what it would be like and I also didn’t want to be let down.

I had decided to go to another country alone, it was quite terrifying. I have to say that going solo wasn’t so bad. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone, and really encourage me to make new friends. It helped me grow in that sense, but also helped me gain independence.

It is crazy looking back on it, because I met complete strangers and they became the only people I knew in the whole country. They became family. They are the people I ate dinner with, laughed with, went shopping with, went exploring the city with. I made life long memories with so many people who live across the globe. There is a good chance I may never see some of them ever again. But, I will cherish the memories I have with them forever.

I would definitely recommend studying abroad to anyone who has the chance. This experience is one that not many have the opportunity to have. My study abroad experience is quite different than others because I was luckily enough to spend the summer with all international students. We had a blast, there was never a dull moment, and there was always someone who was interested in what you wanted to do. Normally, many students go abroad and attend class with the students of that university. There were only two French ESSCA students in the whole program. Our program was tailored to us, they encouraged going out in the city and make the most of our trip.

My perspective was widen to a global view. I studied in a different country with a British, Ukraine, and French professors, with students from all over the world, which include, but not limited to: Michigan, Florida, Australia, Hong Kong, Scotland, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, the Phillippines, and Italy.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you will know that it wasn’t a walk in the park. I had some obstacles, and problems I faced, but the ups and downs really allowed me to learn and grow. I will forever cherish the memories I made and lessons I’ve learned.

A few classmates of mine, spent most of their days in their hotel room, and really didn’t explore what the city had to offer. They wanted to go home from the start. So, if you were to ask them, they would not recommend it. If you want to put yourself out there and be exposed to a new lifestyle, I would recommend this to you, with a willing attitude.

Here’s an article about I did with a fellow Global Vulcan: https://hilo.hawaii.edu/chancellor/stories/2019/09/26/2019-study-abroad-programs-in-europe/

Meant to be.

Meant to be.

In the Japanese culture, does something called omiyage, which is gift that you give to a friend after returning home from trip. My mother works in the hospitality industry and is often given omiyage as guest check in or out of the hotel. Hawaiʻi takes a lot of inspiration from the Japanese culture as we have so many Japanese tourist visiting our island.

Going to Paris, I brought some ribbon lei, local snacks and UH Hilo swag, such as lanyards, stickers, etc. I made goodie bags for some people. I made a tag for each good bag which read: “Mahalo nui loa. (Thank you very much)” and one the back I included an ʻōlelo noʻeau I found back in June. “ʻAʻohe pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi. (Not all knowledge is learned in just one school.)”

When I returned to campus in August, we had a freshly renovated library, and as you walk in there is a large ʻōlelo noʻeau displayed. This made me so happy, because it was as if I was doing exactly what I was meant to. Not that I had any doubts, but it just confirmed that it was definitely was supposed to happen.

Pickpocketing Galore

Pickpocketing Galore

On the very first day, one of my classmates got his phone stolen from his back pocket. Another classmate of mine got her wallet taken. Pickpocket-ers are every where. It is quite frightening that these people train and tag team to steal stuff from you.

If I can recommend only one thing to you, if would be an Arden Cove bag. The founders of the company are two girls who traveled, and got pick pocketted. So, they thought of everything. It was the best $150 that I’ve ever spent.

“The full sized bag is perfect for days where you need a little more organization- with two wall pockets, a zipper pocket, and a built-in wallet, everything has its place. It will even fit that Kindle or small novel if you have some downtime while traveling, making it the ultimate travel bag. A detachable crossbody strap keeps you hands-free throughout the day.”

Feature include:

  • Full Body Anti-Slash Lining
  • Cut-proof Strap
  • Detachable Strap
  • Locking Zippers
  • RFID protection
  • Fully Waterproof Exterior & Zippers
  • Interior D-ring to attach Keychain 
  • Bottom Studs  
Pics Or It Didn’t Happen

Pics Or It Didn’t Happen

Going into this trip with an already overweight bag, I was limited to the amount of things I could being back home with me. So, I wanted to focus on spending my money on experiences rather than materialistic items. This was quite difficult at first being that we spent a lot of time in the luxury district and there was their annual sales this time of year. It became a fun activity window shopping and just soaking in all the amazing things they had to offer. But, it wasn’t too hard to walk away empty handed with all the items were way out of our price range.

When I wasn’t in class, what did I do?

On the first day, we went to Par de Saint Cloud, had a picnic and got to get to know everyone a little better. In the weeks following, I went on a boat tour of Paris, Fete de la musique (Music Festival), Louvre Museum, Amusement Park at Tuileries Park, Disneyland Paris, Disney Studios, A$AP Rocky Concert, Versailles Castles, went on another boat tour but for dinner, Van Gogh Exhibition, Arc de Triomphe, took a 4 hour bus to Normady to visit Mount St. Michele, and spent many hours at the Eiffel Tower like four times.

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn

Upon applying, we choose the housing we wanted, either:

Standard Option – Séjours & Affaires Courbevoie Grande Arche

  • Shared room in two-star apartment hotel
  • No Air Conditioner
  • €1550.00 euros (partner institutions)
  • €2850.00 euros (non-partner institutions)

Upgraded Option – Residhome Courbevoie la Défense

  • Shared room in a four star apartment hotel
  • With air conditioner
  • €2000.00 euros (partner institutions)
  • €3300.00 euros (non-partner institutions)

As we stayed for almost a month, all our accommodations have washing facilities.

Being that I was going to be there in the middle of summer, I opted for the upgraded option with air conditioning (and let me tell you, WORTH IT. It broke 100-degrees).

The first day, I met my roommate, Michelle, and we got situated in our room. We had two twin sized beds that were pushed together to make one big bed, we learned that other students had the same two-beds pushed together, but theirs were made separately. We had a small fridge, that stopped working after a week of being there. This caused us to cook ONE time, from then on, we ate out or purchases non-refrigerated / microwaveable food.

Our room was scheduled to be cleaned twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, well the first week, and last week we didn’t get our room cleaned. Upon checkout, we were supposed to dispose of our trash on our own, but there was no trash chute to take it to.

Have no fear, Starbucks, saves the day. I was able to get change a do my laundry.

Communication is Key

Communication is Key

In order to stay connected with the world, I needed to make sure that my phone was still in service. I knew my hotel and my school would have WiFi available for me to use, but I knew I would be exploring the city and need to use Google Maps, Translate, etc. So, I rented a portable WiFi for unlimited data for my month abroad. I paid about €176,30 for this. I was able to pick it up at the airport upon my arrival. I mentioned this is a previous post, but I needed to get Cellular Service in order to use What’s App. I purchased a SIM card in Paris for €18, unlimited calls and text and 50GB of data. My phone was locked. My mom was in contact with AT&T and I could either pay off the rest of my phone balance or add a International Passport. We chose the latter, which was $60 for 1GB for the month. I would recommend doing your research before going on the trip. Every phone provider is different. Some of my classmates bought SIM cards at the airport for more money and less data.

With being on the internet, I got to share my experiences through my Instagram as well as text and FaceTime. My family & I also used an app called Life360, it allowed us to share our location, and phone battery. I set locations such as Hotel, School, etc so my family would be able to see where I am even when we had a 12 hour time difference.

Postcards

Postcards

You can find postcards all throughout the city, at museums, gift shops, or just little kiosks on the side of the street. I bought postcards on the first day I was there, and at other places throughout my trip. I carried them with me with the intention of mailing them out. But I was too caught up with everything else doing on so, it just didn’t happen. One night, my roommate & I were looking at all the postcards we bought (she bought it as keepsake). I then realized, what do you write on a postcard. I eventually mustered up a few sentences on each post card. I went down to the lobby to ask where is the nearest place I can mail them out. The front desk agent advised me I could go to Monoprix, a grocery store to do this. I head over to Monoprix at 4:45PM, turns out Postal portion closed at 4:30PM. They open at 9AM the next morning, I normally start class at 9AM about 20 mins away. So, I waited until I had a visit and we were leaving at 9:45AM, so I got to go to Monoprix first. As soon as they’re open, I am first in line. Turns out, they only mail within France.

The next day I go to La Poste, to mail 11 postcards to family and friends and paid nearly €15. I mailed my postcards out on July 2nd, and I received them when I returned home on July 21.

Coming Home

Coming Home

Getting there was a struggle, so if there was one thing I knew, was that I was not taking a train/bus back to the airport. If I had to pay €90 for an uber, I was ready to do that. My flight was at 10:20AM because it was an international flight, I had to be there at least 3 hours prior. I asked my fellow classmates what time they would be heading to the airport to see if we could ride together to lower the costs. Luckily, some other American girls had a 9:20AM flight on Delta, so it worked out perfectly, because we were flying out of the same terminal. We booked a van for 5 of us leaving the hotel at 4:55AM. I stayed at a different hotel than them so I wanted to make sure that I was there at 4:45AM.

My last night I wanted to make the most of my final hours. A group of us went to dinner then to the Eiffel tower. We hung out on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower until the lights turned off at 1:00AM then we had to run to catch the last bus back to the hotel, which was about 45 minutes to an hour away. I got back to my hotel at 2:00AM, and needed to pack. I made that decision to stay up all night because I had a 10 hour flight, and I knew that it would be easier for me to stay up a few more hours than trying to get up at 4:30AM.

At 4:30AM, I made my way to the other hotel, which was a few minute walk away. I got there with luggage with a wheel that was barely hanging on. There was as guy in the lobby that began to talk to me and ask so many questions, and was very creepy. I immediately called my mom, and I couldn’t be like “Hey Mom, there is a creepy guy talking to me” because obviously he would hear me, so I just said “Hello, huh?” She was so confused, then I hung up lol. I texted her that one of the girls were here. We loaded up the van and waited for the other 3 girls. Another one came down, but the last two did not come, they did not call, they did not text. So, we left. A few minutes into the car ride, they start texting and are pissed. Ashli, the girl who booked the taxi, said “I am not your guardian. It’s not my responsibility to make sure you’re awake.” I’m just so glad that I was on time, and made it to the airport. Our taxi got us there in about 25 mins, when the expected arrival would be a little over an hour. As I got out of the taxi, one of my wheel broke completely. Got on the plane, and made my way home. I landed in Seattle, I picked up my bag and had to go through to customs. As I pulled my bag off the conveyer-belt, second wheel gone. Luckily, I got my bag through and was going home so it didn’t matter. After a 3 hour layover, 6 hour flight, I was home.

Transcripts = DENIED

Transcripts = DENIED

Prior to leaving, my Global Exchange advisers recommended to hand carry our transcripts home with us. Our final presentations were on Wednesday, July 10. My flight was 10AM on Thursday, July 11th. There was absolutely no way I was able to physically bring my transcript home because grades were not yet finalized. I was assured that they would be sent over to my home university.

On June 25, ESSCA sent our transcripts over. The following day, I reached out to my Global Exchange coordinator. 3 days later, she said they received it! They were sending to admissions for processing. YAY. However, on August 1st, I receive an email saying that our transcripts were taken to the Admissions and Registrar’s office on July 18th, but because it was an email, they did not accept it. They have requested for the official transcripts be sent via mail. ESSCA is on summer break until the end of August so, we wait.

Fall 2019 starts on August 26th, and I was really hoping to get everything settled before the semester starts because I’ll be graduating soon. Fingers crossed, it’ll all go smooth.

Fortunately, my Global Exchange coordinator is working to get them to campus as soon as possible.

Point A → Point B

Point A → Point B

If you’ve read my previous post, It’s me, actually in Pari, you would have heard about the difficulty I had making my way from Charles de Gaulle airport to Residhome Apparthotel La Defense in Courbevoie. To my surprise, I was not alone. Almost every single one of my classmate got lost, struggled and felt defeated trying to get to the hotel. Only those who took a taxi or an Uber had a smooth ride but they had to pay an arm and a leg.

Prior to my departure, I asked about transportation, but I was assured that would be handled when I arrived. As I was promised, I was given a RATP Navigo card on the first day. I had to write my name and stick on a passport size photo onto the back of the card. We went to the RATP kiosk to load our cards. We would choose all zones (1-5) for 1 week (Monday – Sunday) costing €22,80 or $25.89. We would need to reload our cards each week we were there.

This Navigo card allowed us unlimited rides on the RER, Tramway, Metro, and Bus. Trust me, I got my monies worth. We were constantly swiping that card any chance we could because we were so tired of walking. We literally felt like our legs would fall off. According to my health app on my iPhone we were doing about 16,000-20,000 steps daily.

We learned that the passport size photo on the card was a lot more important than we had thought. I brought one from home with me but some didn’t. So, they needed to find a photo booth that provides that service. We were so busy they didn’t get around to it, and didn’t think much of it. Well, we were sitting on the Metro and a RATP worker comes around checking our cards. One of my classmates were charged €50. On a separate occasion, another classmate was charge €75 for the same thing.

Photo by: Adrien Olichon