May 13th, 2022, 08:00 AM

Culture Shock Felt By Students at AUP

By Lily Pike
Image credit: Molly Wilhelm
AUP students from different countries describe some of the things that surprised them upon arriving to Paris

Paris syndrome is a form of culture shock that many experience when traveling to the city for the first time, and feel that the city does not live up to what they had built up in their minds. This can be particularly hard on students, who are already trying to adjust to the major life change of college itself.

AUP is unique in the way that its student body represents 103 nationalities and speaks 65 languages, which means the school is a melting pot of cultures, each tasked with the same thing; figuring out how to assimilate to an entirely new environment.

Trying to balance the task of adapting to a new home while also being in one of the most famous and beloved cities in the world can be a difficult one, especially when the feeling of disorientation surrounding the new culture can leave one feeling out of place and unable to form a connection. Depending on where someone is from, it may be even harder to get your bearings in a city like Paris.

Image credit: Lily Pike

“It’s so strange because I had envisioned my life in Paris to be so different,” said Jenna Miller, a visiting AUP student from Maryland. “Having to take the metro everyday was hard to get used to, I didn’t expect to be so far away from everything,"

Miller was placed in La Defense for her housing, which makes her commute to school about 45 minutes via the metro. “That was the biggest disappointment for me, not being able to just walk outside and see the Paris that is in all the movies.”

Public transportation isn’t the only thing that astounds new students about the city, the exorbitant cost of goods and services is also a factor in the disorientation that befalls many. 

Image credit: Lily Pike

“Many services here, especially when it is related to human labor such as hair salons, are much more expensive here,” said Lara Nasare, an AUP student from São Paolo, Brazil. “However I do think this has an upside to it considering it means that people are paid better here than in Brazil, and we must value the hard work it takes to do these kinds of jobs.”

 The prices here impact some students especially hard due to the exchange rate. “It is almost six times more expensive to buy things in Europe for me considering the Brazilian Real is only worth .20 euros," Nasare said. 

Having to budget is something that college students across the globe must deal with, however this can be doubly as hard when coming from a less affluent country to one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Image credit: Lily Pike

Despite many of the more negative aspects of culture shock, some students had great things to say about what surprised them the most when coming to Paris

“I was pleasantly surprised that there’s so much diversity here,” Rona Phi, an AUP student from Quezon City, Philippines said. “My perspective and knowledge on the world has definitely expanded because of that.”

Students have also broken down the stereotype of French people being rude.

“Everyone here has been very friendly and helpful, whenever I need directions or explain that I can’t speak French they are always more than willing to assist me,"said Phi. 

Why we need to embrace culture shock | Kristofer Gilmour | TEDxTownsville

One of the most difficult adjustments among students is the language barrier between the native people and the students who don't know French. 

“I wish I learned French before coming,” Phi said. “On the bright side, there’s nothing better than direct experience and being able to fully immerse yourself in the language.”

AUP students have a lot to get used to upon arrival in Paris, and these many adjustments only add to the college experience and help broaden their perspective of the world. The culture shock, students may  experience from coming to Paris is temporary, but the memories made in the city will last forever.