If you’re reading this, and you’re getting ready to travel soon, you’re probably nervous. Scratch that. You’re DEFINITELY nervous. At least I was. But don’t worry, you’re not alone.
You’ll likely come to find out that everyone else traveling with you was anxious as well. Whether it’s because you’re traveling alone for the first time, going to a completely new and unfamiliar country, or being overwhelmed by all the new people you don’t know who you’re going to encounter and interact with while you’re there, don’t worry about it. In fact, here’s my advice: Take a deep breath in, let it out, and just stop stressing NOW. Let it all out. Trust me. Because once you get to France, and once it’s over, you’ll laugh at all the small and unimportant things you were so worried about.
If that voice in the back of your head is still feeding you those doubtful thoughts, here are some tips to keep in your back pocket to help you during your trip abroad.
How am I going to make friends with a bunch of random people? What if everyone gets along except me? If you’ve had these thoughts or something similar to them, don’t worry, it’s normal.
In reality, it’s pretty scary to enter into the unknown with a bunch of strangers, and those doubts are just our own minds trying to keep us in a comfortable environment.
However, once you’re finally in France, and you’re surrounded by a bunch of people just as excited and nervous as you are, it will be really easy to get accustomed to everyone and everything. Take advantage of being in a new world, and strike up a conversation with as many people as possible.
Everyone’s always looking for a new friend, so it will be easy to converse with all the other people on your program. But don’t limit yourself to the people around you. Try talking to the guy selling crepes, the street performer doing flips, the nice cashiers at the Galerie Lafayette; most of the time, they’re awfully kind and are eager to talk to someone from a different part of the world than them.
I’m sure some of the first things you might go for while you’re roaming the Paris streets are some crepes and gelatos. But after your first two (or maybe five), try spending your traveling money on something else. (Two kids on my trip got matching Louis Vuitton Bracelets, but you don’t need to go that far.)
Buy a small souvenir or two. Hop on one of the rides or attractions, like the Ferris Wheel (Roue de Paris), or the big-spinny-ride-thingy I don’t know the name of. Try a sandwich from those tiny kebab shops on the tight Paris streets. (Whatever you do, DON’T play the street games. They’re all just very elaborate scams. They’re illegal, too.)
If anything makes you feel uncomfortable, you’ll probably really enjoy it. As long as you’re not putting yourself in danger or at risk of anything, get out of your comfort zone. There are so many new things out there, especially in France, that would make for an experience you could never forget, but only if you’re willing enough to try it. Even if it’s as small as trying out new food, go for it.
Most importantly, have fun. Don’t stress too much about learning French, especially the first few days, because that’s when it feels most difficult. Personally, I’d feel dizzy every night from all the French words and phrases scrambling through my mind; the language feels like it’s buzzing through your head, yet you can’t understand anything. But by the first week in, you’ll notice that everything becomes a lot easier to naturally understand and that you were just overreacting at first. So don’t pressure yourself, have fun, and make sure to really enjoy your time in France.
Bonne chance et Bonne Voyage mes amis!