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By bevvy2212

On Saturday, I took the SNCF (the French national railway) to Rouen so this week I’m going to talk about how to take the public transports here in Paris.

Paris has an extensive web of metros and railways to take and it is super easy once you get it all figured out. The intertwined web of lines might appear daunting at first but I found this app called “Paris Metro” in the iphone app store and it’s like, God’s gift to those who are lost in Paris. Basically you just need to enter the start and end stations and the app will give you a detailed itinerary, including where you should change lines and how much time approximately it will take for you to get to your destination.

A lot of people buy the “Navigo” pass for the metro. They are kinda like smart trip cards except that you pay it monthly. It’s around 68 euros per month I think but you can take the metro however you want; there is no limit on how many times you can enter the metro. Since I live very close to campus, I don’t have a Navigo because it is just cheaper to purchase tickets at the machine. There are ticket-vending machines at the entrance of every metro station. Unlike DC metro where the price of the fare depends on where you go, there is a set price of 1.7 euro for a one-way ticket in Paris. I usually buy the “carnet”. It’s a set of ten tickets and the price is 13.70 euros, a bit cheaper if you do the math. You can also use the same type of ticket to take the bus, but usually people opt for the metro because it’s easier and faster.

Like DC, there are public bikes to rent here in Paris. Apparently it’s easier to ride than in DC and a lot of people use them to go to school/work. The only problem is that usually during rush hours, either there are no bikes at the bike stands around you because people have taken them out already or you can’t find a place to return your bike once you’re at your destination.

I went to Rouen by SNCF this saturday. SNCF is the French national railway system and it basically operates all the trains within France, including the TGV (the high speed rail). The SNCF station in Paris is at the metro station Saint-Lazarre. You go up the escalators once you’re out of the metro and there’s the SNCF station. There are ticket vending machines around the station so you can just pay at the machines. HOWEVER! They only take cards that have a sim chip. I don’t even know how to explain it because I’ve never seen it before, but apparently here in France, the credit/debit cards here have a visible sim chip on the card, whereas in the US or in China, most cards (at least the ones I have) only have the magnetic slide thingy on the back. So I was unable to purchase my ticket via the machine and had to go in-line at the counter. I got a “carte de jeune”. It’s a discount card for people between 12 to 26 and a lot of the times it cuts the price of the ticket in half. The card itself costs 50 euros and is effective for one year. But if you are planning on traveling around France then it’s definitely a good way to save money because my trip to Rouen was originally gonna cost around 46 euros round trip. With the “carte de jeune”, I paid 23. So that’s 23 euros I made up with the cost of the carte de jeune already. You will need your passport and an ID photo of yourself when you go purchase the the carte de jeune.

I was shocked by the amount of people that were on the train… Life lesson here: so I was walking and I saw various seats on the train through the window and I was like hmm… maybe there are better seats ahead so I kept on walking but I ended up sitting on the stairs because the doors were about to close and I had to jump in a random coach. I had a seat on the train in India… INDIA!! So if you see something in life that you like, take it, don’t wait around to see if anything better comes up. (so philosophical these days.)

By billienkatz

Before embarking on the study abroad journey, I was bombarded by people (both friends, family and professors) who said it would be a major lesson in independence. This was almost insulting at times because I view myself as an independent person to begin with. Over the course of the past few weeks, especially since I really started jet setting around Europe, I've started o understand what everyone was talking about.

There is a sense of adaptability, resiliency, and go-with-the-flow attitude that is necessary while studying abroad, and in turn this manifests itself into a new form of independence. For the first time in my life I've been navigating myself around foreign cities where I don't speak the language and have limited access to WiFi and can only occasionally rely on google maps. For example, this past weekend I took advantage of having a Thursday off of school and took a five day trip to Rome and Florence. I was flying round trip in and out of Rome, and faced with taking the train from Rome to Florence and back again. I had already taken the train in Spain and had expected the process to be flawless and easy; however, as you can probably assume it was not.

First, I speak no Italian and despite what I thought before arriving, it really isn't recognizably similar to Spanish. Then, once I couldn't figure out the lines at the ticket office and weird number calling system (I had number A312 and they were called N4 and R109) I decided to give it a go at the ticket kiosk, which didn't work either. I don't have the chip in my debit card that all the European machines read, so my transaction was unable to be completed.

I should also mention that it was now approximately 2:23 and I had to get on the  2:31 train that was the last one going from Rome to Florence until the next morning. Low and behold, and only after  being forced to tip the man who helped me figure it out,  I was en-route to Florence. While this obviously isn't my most applicable example, its what has happened the most recently.

Overall, what I'm trying to get across is that everyone was right, being abroad does teach you an entirely new sense of independence that Ive never had to utilize before. In addition, in the process I have learned a lot about myself and how I approach and react to certain situations. For example, I have learned that I really value traveling with my parents and utilizing curbside check in, and that the world doesn't stop turning if I have to wear the pants and sweater multiple times in a row because my trip destination was colder than expected and I can only fit so much in a RyanAir approved carry on bag. Finally, I have learned that there is always room to grow as a person and learn more about yourself, and for me this has been my most powerful realization.