By Erin Cornell
Studying abroad is an amazing experience, but it can also be very expensive. Groupe ESG does not provide student housing, so if you do decide to study in Paris you will be responsible for finding somewhere to live for four months, and the rent is just as high in Paris as it is in New York. I ended up finding a great apartment in the 20th arrondissement, but I still need to budget my money carefully to pay for food, shopping, and most importantly, travel expenses.
Just like the New York subway, the Paris metro is the easiest way to get around the city. I pay around 70 euros a month for a Navigo pass, which is the equivalent of a MetroCard. The Navigo gives me unlimited access to the metro, bus, and tram lines throughout the city, and on weekends travelling outside of Paris using the RER train lines is free. The RER lines connect to Disneyland Paris, Versailles, and La Vallée Village outlet mall, which are all located on the outskirts of Paris and are great day trips. I would recommend getting a Navigo pass instead of paying for individual tickets, since you will need to take the metro almost every day. You will need to have a passport-size photo of yourself to put on your Navigo, but there are photo booths for this purpose located in most metro stations. The pass itself costs 5 euros and you will need to speak to the RATP employee in the information booth located in each station to get your pass. The RATP is the equivalent of the MTA, and most of the employees can speak English. Once you have a Navigo, you can reload it each month using a machine that can be set to English as well, so don’t worry about any language issues.
Travelling outside of the country is one of the best parts of studying abroad. Paris gives you easy access to planes, trains, and even buses that can take you to new and exciting locations. For my trip to Venice, I researched the costs and benefits of different trains and airlines before deciding to use the discount airline EasyJet. Surprisingly, taking a train would cost almost the same as flying, so EasyJet was a better and quicker method of travel. I would definitely recommend this airline to anyone interested in flying to a different country. The only downside was that you can’t print your tickets at the airport, so be prepared to find an Internet café before your trip. I would also recommend using sites like Hipmunk to plan any trips because they let you compare prices and get the best deal. If you plan on staying multiple days, hostels are definitely the cheapest accommodations. You will have to share a room with other people, but if you’re traveling with a group of friends, you can all reserve the same room.
The most important thing I can tell you is to do some research before booking a trip. Look online to see the best times and dates to book a flight, and be flexible. Once you get to your destination, there are always free activities and sites to visit. Don’t plan out every moment of your trip, but be aware of places to see and things to do. It’s also important to take lots of pictures and share them on Instagram with #LIMAbroad!