Due to cultural differences, students sometimes have difficulties adjusting during the first couple days. This is very normal to feel homesick or mildly depressed. The following are some tips to help you have a more enjoyable trip.
Do : Pack comfortable walking shoes. Do : Pack at least one nice outfit (business casual) for the visit to City Hall (Men : button up shirt, tie and slacks. Women: a casual dress or skirt). Do : The weather in France can be unpredictable, it is best to pack clothing that can be layered. Do : An umbrella can be purchased for about 10 Euros ($11). Do not over-pack. Students always bring way to much "junk". Do : Make a copy of your passport to leave at home with your parents. Also, do not carry your passport with you at all times. Put it someplace safe and carry a copy with you. See your passport for more safety information. Do not : Bring any electrical devices that require being plugged in ! French outlets are a higher wattage and adaptors do not work well. It is easier to buy a hair dryer or electric razor when you arrive in Angers.
Below is a list of essentieal items:
Sneakers or comfortable walking shoes Toiletries (i.e. shampoo, toothpaste, razor, lotion, allergy medicine etc...) A light jacket Baby wipes A sweatshirt or sweater Lots of underwear One nice outfit A small roller bag for weekend trips An umbrella Lots of short sleeve and long sleeve T-shirts A couple pairs of jeans and pants A notebook, and a pen A pocket sized French to English dictionary
Layer, Layer, Layer ! The weather can be unpredictable, like spring weather in New England. It can be cool and rainy for a few days and then warm and sunny. Also, the climate in Normandy and Paris will be cooler than the climate in Angers.
Do : Bring Plastic. It is helpful to have a visa check card as your source of funds. Sometimes students have trouble getting cash with their ATM card. Cirrus is a system, however, that is widely accepted in Europe (look on the back of your ATM to find out). Using a card is much easier, and you get a better exchange rate. Also you do not have to pay a fee to convert funds. All around it is just easier. Do not : Bring large amounts of US currency. Some students have had trouble exchanging $100 bills (US) due to a recent counterfeit scandal. Again, plastic is easier. Do : Check with your bank in the US to see if they have online banking. You can check your balance and pay bills while in France.
Cultural tips :
Do not : Use your host family like a hotel. These families are excited about having you stay with them. They are looking forward to sharing their culture and learning about yours. Always call if you cannot make it home to dinner. Do : Be respectful while staying with a host family. Keep your room tidy and do not take long showers. Utilities are very expensive in France. Do : Bring a small gift or token for your host family. Suggestion : a picture book from your region. Do : Be social and have some wine with dinner (occasionally lunch). Be respectful. Remember, you represent your country. Don't be late for class. Ponctuality is expected. Do : Attend all classes, they are obligatory.