“Congratulations, I am very pleased to inform you that you have been selected to participate in the Marshall International Exchange Program at ESCP in Paris, France during the Spring 2022 semester.” Immediately a big smile came upon my face, for I was finally able to live my lifelong dream of studying abroad in Europe.
It was a pretty straightforward process from thereon after, some parts being easier than others. It is important to note that ESCP does not provide student housing. Therefore, it was up to my roommates and I to find a place that suited our needs. Our greatest resource was asking students who have previously lived in France, with ESCP or other study abroad programs, for recommendations. They were able to tell us which areas to focus our search on and which areas to avoid. So, I would definitely recommend utilizing other people on top of your own internet research. Eventually, we were able to find a place that was a 20 min walk from our campus and just a 5 min walk from the nearest metro station (key since the metro and walking will be your main method of transportation). We absolutely love the place and were able to find one that fit all of our needs. Check out some pictures of the place and our view!
Next, we had to pick classes. Luckily all of our courses are offered in English, key for non-French speakers, like me. ESCP had a good variety of electives and classes to choose from, therefore it was easy to satisfy Marshall's business unit requirement. Lastly, I would suggest avoiding classes on Fridays (Thursdays if possible), in order to maximize your weekend travels across Europe and time to further explore all Paris has to offer.
The visa process was the most simple part of the process. Online there are very easy-to-follow guides that help you through each step of the process. Once you gather all of your items (passport, ID photo, rental contract of your place, etc.), you will make an appointment with the France Visa appointment center in Beverly Hills, about a 20 min uber without traffic from USC campus. Fortunately, my visa came quickly after the appointment, in only about a week. The France Visa center said it would take about 4 weeks, which is why I was relieved it was much quicker. I would still recommend giving yourself ample time before your departure date in case things do take longer. Compared to other countries France has a very efficient visa process!
Now, the thing that was the most uncertain was the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We were never quite sure if our program would get canceled or not, so we just proceeded with caution making sure to get refundable tickets and insurance on our flights and other activities. While it did not affect our preparation process in the months leading forward, it did affect our traveling process. We were required to show a negative PCR test before heading there. While I am not sure how the pandemic will continue to affect our experience and others in the following years, I think it is super important to just be flexible. Being prepared for things to shut down or flights to change/cancel, is what will make sure you don’t lose out on too much money and ensure you still have fun.
After all that preparation, I am finally in Paris! Having never been to Europe before this has been a dream come true already. I am beyond excited to continue my study abroad here and all of the amazing experiences I will encounter. Until next time, Au Revoir!