What to bring (a non-exhaustive list)?
- Your passport!
- A cellphone with a working connection.
- Laptop with working battery and working keyboard.
- Charger for your laptop with extension cord
- Converter. Electricity is different in Europe. On most electronics, there is already a transformer (that bulky black box). But the shape of the plug itself is different. You absolutely need plug converters. Check these from Amazon.com: "Grounded Europe Adapter-CE certified- USA to Europe-by DekCell." $3 each. Get a couple, you will thank yourself later. Please note that the UK has a different system from both the US and Europe. If you plan on traveling to the UK, you may want to purchase a plug for the UK before you leave.
- A towel. The MIJE doesn't give towels. You may also want to bring your own pillowcase. Address of the MIJE. Have this with you at all times. Each professor on the program will give you his cell phone number as soon as the programs starts.
- Transformer. Some of your appliances and electronics may not have a built in one. In that case you need a transformer (to transform the current). If you don't use one and only use the converter, your appliance will simply die. If you need a transformer for a heating appliance (hair dryer, straightener, curler, etc), you will need a transformer specifically designed for that purpose. Beware that transformers tend to be heavy and will add to the weight of your luggage.
- Extra clothes: layers!!! Paris could be super hot or cold, and it could all happen the same season between June and July, sometime on the same day. The best strategy is to layer your clothes: short sleeves, long sleeves, sweatshirt type jackets, etc. Don't worry about business clothes. Bring what you will be comfortable wearing.
- Clothes/women: no short shorts! For girls: avoid shorts that don't come almost to your knees. Women in Paris tend to not wear shorts. Shorts are for the beach. Skirts may be a good alternative to shorts when comfort in a hot weather is the objective.
- A dictionary. Larousse. Because you don't want to exceed luggage restrictions, one on your laptop would be nice. Or as an app on your iTouch/iPhone/android. (the Larousse app for example is really good).
- Something to cut with. A pair of scissors can come in handy. A butter knife to make sandwiches. Of course, nothing that could be interpreted as a weapon as they are forbidden.
- You can also check this list here: https://www.tripsavvy.com/vacation-packing-checklist-for-france-1516920
Luggage weight: check the luggage limitations with your airline (or look at your travel ticket, it is probably indicated there).
How much money you should take with you? It depends on your own spending habits, your own budget and what you want to do during the trip. Here are some of the things to take into consideration:
Food. Don't count on the MIJE's included breakfast and dinner to cover all your nutritional needs. Even if you're a small eater, they won't! You still need money for lunch and maybe snacks as well.
Phone. LBAT FRANCE NOW REQUIRES THAT STUDENTS HAVE A WORKING CELL PHONE IN FRANCE. Apps that work well include: GroupMe, WhatsApp.
Laundry. You need money for the laundromat.
Local transportation. Even though you are in the middle of the action, you may want to use public transportation. It is not expensive but you still need to think of that in your budget.
Travels. Some students travel during our long week-ends. Favorite destinations include Nice and the Riviera in general (Côte d'Azur), London, Barcelona. These are NOT cheap. Plan for them or they will wipe out your budget. Paris is ideally located to travel anywhere in Europe.
Going out. That can add up fast.
Visits. You will want to add your own visits to the ones we will do together. For instance, you will want to go on the Eiffel Tower. Make a list of what you would like to see/do while in Paris and make a budget for yourself accordingly.
Shopping. You will be in Paris during Sales. They are a huge event. People take days off work to shop during Sales (they happen only twice a year)... If you love shopping, plan a budget.
Souvenirs. You will enjoy the huge collections of Paris souvenirs. It's hard to resist. Plus... you probably want to bring some presents back to your friends and relatives. They tend to be inexpensive, but still, think of this item when you establish a budget.
Luggage. Depending on how much luggage you take with you, you may need to pay extra. Check the information on your travel documentation or check directly with the airline.
WARN YOUR BANK! BEFORE YOU LEAVE, CALL YOUR BANK AND TELL THEM YOU WILL BE IN FRANCE.
If you don't, they will block your card at the very first attempt to withdraw money from an ATM... Find out how much they charge for each charge and for each withdrawal. Ask them if they partnered with a bank in Paris, in which case, your withdrawals won't cost as much.
Different students are in different situations. Check the site of the French Consulate in Atlanta to determine whether you need a visa
The Quartier du Marais is extremely safe. You will actually be safer than in Atlanta. However, you will be in a different environment and your difficulty to read the code could put you at risk. So here are some fundamental reminders:
- Don't smile to strangers, especially of the opposite gender. On the other hand, when you enter/leave a store (especially small ones like boulangeries) use this essential code of politeness: "bonjour madame/monsieur", "Est- ce que je pourrais avoir... s'il vous plaît", "merci/je vous remercie", "Au revoir monsieur/madame".
- Dress appropriately.
- Beware of train stations. They attract a ton of pickpockets. Don't leave your bag unattended
- Watch your pockets, you purse, your luggage at ALL times.
- Make a copy of all your important papers (passports, visas) and leave one with a relative you can trust so that they can help you from the US in case a card or passport gets stolen. Keep a copy of all the 800 numbers you may need to call if your cards get stolen.
- Other tips here: https://www.tripsavvy.com/how-to-avoid-pickpockets-in-paris-1618746