If you’re heading to Paris for a language camp, it can be easy to get caught up in the spectacular itinerary. While dreaming of your ventures to the Eiffel Tower, through the Louvre, and roaming the lively streets of Paris, it is imperative to not cast aside the responsibilities of language preparation and packing until the last minute.
From the moment I arrived at the Charles De Gaulle airport it was immediately apparent that I was in a different world. The French spoken all around me was not the carefully enunciated speech with a subtle accent that I was accustomed to in my American language classes. For a beginner to intermediate level speaker this can be a bit overwhelming at first.
While there are many people that speak English, being able to communicate with native speakers is one of the greatest and most beneficial parts of this program.
In order to prepare for this I suggest:
Be sure to know how to navigate with a map and how to ask for directions as well. The rule is to always be with two or more people; however, phone service may not be available while out on excursions. So, it is very important to be able to get around yourself.
It is also helpful to study the guidebook for France that Greenheart Travel provides as there are many small aspects of French culture that you may not be used to. For instance, at restaurants the waiters will not continually check on you, or at the Arc de Triumph or the Sacre Coeur Basilica, it is important to dress respectfully or you may not be allowed to enter.
When it comes to packing, keep in mind that is extremely hot in July in Paris. The only time I wore a jacket was the day it rained.
The days are very fast-paced, and while there is some free time and supermarkets are around, it may be hard to get a personal item you forgot to pack so really focus on remembering those items.
My final piece of advice for a successful, extraordinary program is to constantly make yourself step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Try to speak French every chance you get as it will make you much more comfortable with the language. You truly do get out of the program the energy and attitude that you put into it.
Also, don’t worry one bit about not knowing anyone in the program. No one knew each other at first, and we have come back as close friends. Learn from each other and if you are ever feeling intimidated or down, look around at the beauty that is Paris and a smile will wash over you soon enough. Bonne chance!
About the Author:
Angelique Ayoade is 17-years-old, from Asheville, North Carolina and is a Greenheart Travel Global Explorer Scholarship winner for our Teen Summer Language Camp in France! Angelique believes “interacting with people of a different culture and learning is a step towards raising up unity, empathy and love for people globally.” Follow her adventures here!