March 2016
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Monday, March 7, 2016

French Student Visa Perks

Check out that vintage early 2000s photo...
Many people come to France on a student visa, thinking it’s some sort of foot in the door to a fairy tale life in France. Well, that’s only half of the truth. Yes, getting a student visa gets your foot in the door, but it’s not a foolproof solution for staying in France beyond your first year. There is a healthy dose of effort involved. But the effort pays off, if my experience is any proof.

I was lucky that I already had a short-term job in Paris, so my visa procedure was a bit different at the embassy in Washington DC., where I had to apply. Still, the first time I came as an undergraduate student in 2006, I went through the consulate in New York. The part I don't remember ever having to do was creating an account with the Campus France service, which provides you essential papers for getting your visa. It's straightforward, but I hear it can be a little temperamental at times.

If you’re already here in France, maybe as an English teaching assistant, you can change your status if accepted to a school into a master’s program for example. And then once school starts, you’ll actually need to go to class (at least a little) to keep up appearances. Buy a file box, as well, to give all of your fancy paperwork a new home. It’s a solid investment.

Despite the hurdles, getting a student visa is a great start to a life in France, and there are definite  perks beyond obviously letting you live legally in the country. Let’s take a look.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Experiencing Paris through TripAdvisor

When Heather Stimmler-Hall published her recent article on Medium, it really made me think. I had been researching travel media for a while, including TripAdvisor, but it was refreshing to get someone else’s opinion on it.

I try to give the website the benefit of the doubt. Really. I still am trying. But after a lot of discussions, it’s clear, painfully, that TripAdvisor is really just a mess. A mess that once held promise, but that today is really kind of worthless.

Casual tourists don’t see it, however, since they don’t know a destination as intimately as those who live there. But if you know Paris at all, then a quick scan of TripAdvisor’s rankings will give you a good laugh. Here are some of my recent favorites.