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.
We often hear of kids going off to college and eating instant noodles because #brokeCollegeKid. Since I stayed home for college, I didn’t experience that… until now.
My program did not include meals, so all the food costs will come out of my pocket.
People I’ve talked to before coming on the trip told me Paris has some good food. But like where? I don’t know any French food that is amazing. I’ve not been eating good since being here.
First night, we went to Fratellini, I had pasta. Very bland. With so many visits, we are often on the go so many days we pick up a sandwich from the supermarket and call that lunch. I’ve been to a Vietnamese place and Chinese place a few times, pretty good. Aside from my dinner cruise, those places are probably the best meals I’ve had. I’ve had two home cooked meals, burgers and spaghetti. Then, our fridge stopped working, so it’s hard to eat in. I bought a bunch of microwaved dinners, they all suck.
I’ve gone to McDonald’s and Five Guys. But it’s way expensive compared to back home. A McChicken is less than $2, here a plain ‘ole McChicken is almost €4. Honestly, I tried going to McDonalds a few times but every time my card gets declined there as well as everyone I’m with.
My friends & I went to a place called Le Brevant, beautiful place, kinda expensive. BUT THE SERVICE WAS SO TERRIBLE. They literally ignored for an hour when we wanted our check. I shouldn’t say ignore. Sometimes they’ll make eye contact then look away, other times they will acknowledge us say okay then never return. The food was also the worst. People here are so rude. They have a “it’s your problem” type of mentality.
When I get home, I can’t wait to eat some goooood food. Also, to be fair they pastries are delicious. Croissants, macrons, eclairs. YUM
Tonight, I opted for some UberEats, yummy crepes.
I am home now, but my roommate and I were determined to eat good food. I made good use of Uber Eats. My roommate & I then ate at so many AMAZING restaurants towards the ending of our trip. We ate pasta at Vapiano’s, Burgers from HBK. I’m a picky eater and basically eat like a 5 year old child but I stepped out of my comfort zone. I ate duck breast and foie gras ravioli at Comptoir de la Gastronomie. We enjoyed delicious French onion soup and Veal at Le Suffren.
Taking Luxury Marketing, we’ve been learning about value based pricing, the exclusivity of the products, and the quality of materials and craftsmanship that goes into it.
The more we dig deeper the more I want it, which is a problem for my bank account. So, I’ve been eyeing a YSL wallet for a few months, but I could never justify paying the price for it. While doing research for my class, I learned that luxury brands often use the geographical pricing strategy, making the products cheaper in France than in America due to shipping costs and taxes.
After complicating, I pulled the trigger today. Ahhh, I’m so excited. Now, let’s see if I can control myself and not buy all the things before I leave lol
People often forget that I am in France for school, and not just a month-long holiday. With school comes, homework and assignments.
You may be wondering what it’s like studying in a different country, especially one one which over 98% of the students are international exchange students. And even more specifically one that is only just 4 weeks.
Fragonard Perfume Museum + Mystery Shopping (Masion Margiela)
Yves Saint Laurent Museum
So far, my team has been working on our Luxury Brand Project for Hermés. We did intense amount of research about the History + Heritage, Brand Identity + DNA, Marketing Mix, SWOT Analysis, etc which lead up to a 10 minute presentation. This was the main project for this class. Other groups has Louis Vuitton, Dior and Christian Louboutin We only have a few classes left and will be doing smaller assignments regarding retail.
This course has been so much fun. It taught us a lot about the luxury industry and how different and unique it is from any other industry. These visits are so awesome because we get to take the classroom outside and see it first hand.
For example, we read about Hermés, it’s values and brand identity, but it wasn’t until I walked into the store and got to see the products first hand and experience customer service was when I really understood what I read.
For our perfume unit, my group was assigned the Replica perfume by Maison Margiela and had to create a new fragrance for millennials, in which we had to include describing the base, middle, and top notes, the 4 P’s, product, price, promotion, and place.
So, this is where it gets weird. We have 2 classes for this topic, with 2 totally different teachers.
The first we are focusing on a start up where we evaluate the target market, the risk, as well as other factors we may need to consider.
My group is working to start a Currency Exchange Machine that will have 4 different currencies. For example, if you arrive at the airport late and the currency exchange counter is closed, you can insert your USD and get Euros. They currently have Multi-Currency ATMs but they require a debit card and doesn’t not allow you to exchange cash for cash. Same goes for when leaving and returning home, you can exchange your unused currency for cash if your home country. We are looking to start this company in Hong Kong and expand to the USA and France.
This week, we had a guest speaker who is a 25-year old French Entrepreneur, who shares with us his story and gave us tips on what it takes to get your start up off the ground. We dove into unicorns, start ups that have made $1B+ and discussed different types of funding and incubators. He, then, took us to visit his office at Le Tremplin, which is an incubator for the sports industry.
For the second, International Business class, we’ve only had twice so far so I’m not exactly sure what we’re focusing on, but I do know that we have 6 page dossier due on July 9th followed by an oral presentation. We aren’t having this class again until July 4th so it’ll be crunch time. My group mates and I decided to research Uber in China and explore why Uber decided to enter the Chinese market, the risks it faced and why it decided to leave.
We will also be visiting the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Again, not too sure what we’ll be learning there but our teacher makes it sound like a big deal, lol.
So far, the classes have been great. It’s a lot of group work (which I usually hate) but for the most part my teammates have been really good. Always great discussions and I’m learning a lot. We do a lot of activities that makes it fun. I’m not looking forward to the essay but other than that I’ve really been enjoying my courses.
The past week or so has been so crazy for me. Literally go go go non-stop. Not a bad problem to have. But it does make me so exhausted. Wanting to make the most of my time here but still need to remember I need rest as well.
On Sunday, I went with a few friends to Disney Paris, to both the Studio & the Park. It was so much fun. My favorite thing ever was the fireworks. It the most beautiful firework show I’ve ever witnessed.
A slow start to my Saturday, but I met up with a friend to go on the Seine River Dinner Cruise. The food was delicious, the service was excellent and the view was beautiful.
There was a photographer on the cruise and his colleague came around selling the photos. €20 for the photo, so I purchased one. She gave me the receipt and she charged me €40. I tried getting her attention and she ignored me and walked away. The photographer came by and I mentioned it to him and he said he would get her. The cruise ended and she was no where to be found.
I got back to my hotel and told my friends what happened and they were so sweet. They said “The paper is really glossy and good quality.” “You’re makeup looks bomb in the picture.”
After a long night exploring the city, I decided to stay in on this Saturday to do laundry, possibly get some homework done and start to get ready for dinner this evening.
I go down stairs to the washing area and follow the directions but the machine won’t take my money. Not too long after, one of my classmates come in and we begin to struggle together. He tries everything to mess with the machine. After about 20 mins of us fussing, we hear a coworker around the corner. He goes to ask the worker for help. Turns out we need to put our coins into a change machine to get token and the token is what goes into the machine.
While I wait an hour for my clothes to wash, I figure I’ll start straightening my hair. I plug my hair straightener into my outlet converter and let it heat up. A few minutes go by and I hear a ticking noise and smell something burning. I immediately unplug my hair straightener and noticed I accidentally plugged it into the single voltage slot as opposed to the dual voltage! UGH. So, my hair straightener is down & out for this trip.
Paris is the city for fashion, especially with Men’s Fashion Week going on while we’re here. Some really dress to impress while some days other go the more casual route.
Despite if you want to show off your new fit or relax a bit, it can be difficult choosing your outfits in Paris. The weather fluctuates so much. When I arrived, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday was pretty hot. Which we heard the previous week was all rain. I has so fortunate to hear that we just missed all that rain. But I may have spoke too soon because it rained Thursday morning as we were heading to our luxury tour. By the afternoon, it was hot again. This morning, freezing cold. Actually all day has been pretty warm, low of 54 and a high of 73. What I am dreading is next week when we have a high of 102. Omg, I don’t know how I’ll survive. The weather is pretty unpredictable so you really need to think about what you hear wisely. A tip I got today, was to wear layers. Like an onion, you can peel the layers of through the day.
First visit for our International Luxury Brand Marketing class, check. We did a Luxury Quiz, where we had walk both, the new, Avenue de Champs-Elysées and the old near the Place Vendôme square answering questions about the history, products, etc. We walked non-stop for over 3 hours, which may not seem like much but after walking around Paris for the past 3 days, our legs hurt.
Despite the long walks, it was incredible to see all these luxury fashion houses here in France, all while learning the history. When our teacher talks about Coco Chanel living at the Ritz Paris and working right across the street at Chanel Paris Royale, we know exactly where that is and what she’s talking about.
After the the luxury quiz, we make our way to campus and pick up some lunch at a small grocery store. We all can’t speak French. One girl speaks Spanish so she could help decipher what something’s are, but we kind of just grab one and hope for the best. We’re standing in line and one the Spanish-speaking girl pull out her Google Translate app to find out she got a goat sandwich, she immediately ran back and got something else. She was trying to help translate for us but not for herself lol.
Following lunch, we had our lecture and had to create our target luxury shopper. We split up into our region groups, so America for me. Our target consumer’s name is Kat, who is a 19-year old Kylie Jenner wanna-be and USC student who loves driving her Mercedes Benz and wearing her Gucci slides. She also promotes Flat Tummy Tea and get $1M+ per IG post so she is able to purchase all the luxury goods.
Immediately after class, we head to our boat tour. We had an hour long tour and got to see so many beautiful buildings, bridges, and of course the Eiffel Tower.
Hawai’i is often called the melting pot, because we have such a diverse population. There’s so many cultures on our islands. I like to think that I see snippets of different types of people just by living in Hawaii. But being around 60 international students, it’s fascinating to me how different things are. Just as simple as the vocabulary we use or our accent and the way we pronounce things. College vs. Uni, Vacation vs. Holiday, etc. There are students in my program from Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Canada, Australia , Scotland, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, Philippines, Israel, and much more that I can’t remember from the top of my head.
We all come from such unique places and are so interesting in learning / hearing about what their home is like.
I know that America is strange, does things weird and doesn’t always make sense. But it’s still shocking to hear. For example, our educational system. In the UK, they have Primary School and then 5 years of High School. After high school, they need to take a 2 years of A-Levels before heading off to university. In Australia, they aren’t allowed to leave the first and 30 minutes of class At UH Hilo, people may come and go as they please.
With international students, most speak at least one other language. I find that so cool, and am kind of jealous because it would be so useful to have the ability to speak another language. While getting a SIM card, the worker didn’t speak English. We all don’t speak French, but the worker did speak Spanish. So, one of my classmates was able to communicate with her in Spanish.
Our program really encourages us to meet new people. A lot of students came in groups from their university. So, our program tries to split them up as much as possible. But they still manage to stick together. For us soloists, we have no choice but to step outside our comfort zone and meet new people. That’s the only what we’ll know anyone. By talking to them, I learned that we shared some of the same struggles come here, getting lost, etc.
I look for to meeting new people and hearing their opinions on topics we may discuss because I’m sure our point of views are all so different.