Study Abroad in Paris, France -American Business School

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Study Abroad in Paris - American Business School: Social Identity & Access

One of the best things you can do before departure is enter into the experience knowing that your time abroad will be different than on your home campus. The resources, community and support available to you abroad will likely be different than your home campus as well. Your Resident Director will provide you with more details pre-departure and during orientation.

When abroad, let your Resident Director know if you are experiencing challenges. Being able to speak to someone about your experience can often be helpful. They can provide tips and resources for navigating this new environment. Please notify AIFS staff immediately of any incidents that make you uncomfortable or if you should happen to feel unsafe at all.

Our student resources website features additional information and accommodation forms for you to communicate any specific support you need during your time abroad. We encourage you to download and complete the appropriate form(s) from the site and return them to the Admissions Officer for your AIFS study abroad program. Letting us know before you arrive abroad will allow us to better assist you throughout your study abroad experience.

If you have mobility limitations or concerns, please let your Program Advisor or Program Manager and Resident Director know before your arrival so they can work with you directly. Students who require access to medications should ensure their prescriptions are legally permitted in country and should bring all required medication with them for the full duration of their program. French law requires local transport and public spaces to be accessible to those with mobility concerns. Although Paris has invested much money in recent years in modernizing its transportation and service-industry facilities to provide greater access, as an old city it can still prove challenging to those with physical disabilities. The metro is not fully accessible, but all buses have a ramp. Some student dorms have ground floor purpose-built rooms, which may be available on request. Some classrooms are accessible. The AIFS office is accessible only via a set of stairs and has no disabled bathroom facilities. However, alternative arrangements can be made to meet with students in wheelchair accessible locations. AIFS is committed to finding homestays that are wheelchair accessible as needed.

There are a large number of English-speaking clubs in Paris which an older student may find interesting. The Anglophone community is very active, organizing a wide variety of cultural events, fundraisers and team sports to which new members are welcome.

Students who have a service or emotional support animal should connect with their Program Advisor or Program Manager to get the most current information related to animals being permitted in housing, classes, and in the city.

The designation of being a first-generation college student is not as prominent a social identity in France as it is in the US, so specific resources related to this in-country might be harder to find. All students will receive an on-site orientation led by the Resident Director to help you to navigate the new academic environment you will encounter and the day-to-day aspects of local life which might be unfamiliar.

Paris has a lively LGBTQIA+ community and is a very tolerant and sexually-open city. France has recognized same-sex civil unions since 1999. Laws protect individuals and groups from all hate crimes and discrimination based on sexuality. The city hall website provides plenty of information in English about events, venues and activities of interest to the LGBTQIA+ community.

The French language has introduced pronouns that are gender neutral but the broader French public is not fully aware of them and therefore their use is limited. Discussion of non-binary and transgender communities is an on-going conversation in France and with the growing social awareness is providing integration opportunities for all ages. Gender neutral bathrooms do exist (there is one in the AIFS office) but they are not common. There should be no problem however with using the bathroom of your choice. Paris offers several housing options and can easily cater for most requirements. Please check with local staff with any gender-related housing concerns.

If you have neurological, intellectual or cognitive limitations or mental health concerns, please let your Program Advisor or Program Manager and Resident Director know any accommodations you require before your arrival so they can work with you directly. Students who require access to medications should ensure their prescriptions are legally permitted in country and should bring all required medication with them for the full duration of their program. Students with learning disabilities should share any relevant documentation with their Program Advisor or Program Manager upon application to the program so accommodations can be reviewed and, as possible, provided. Students with mental health concerns should approach their Resident Director if they feel they need professional help while in Paris. We work with a network of fully trained English-speaking specialists who can provide a range of psychiatric services. We strongly advise students who have counselling at home to discuss this with their home doctor prior to departure. The AIFS student insurance (CISI) includes access to English-speaking professional counsellors and psychotherapists who are used to working with international students. AIFS also offers their students an English-speaking, global teleconsultation service, connecting students to experienced medical personnel via phone call or video chat, this service is included in the program fees.

Racism is not very prevalent in Paris although students may find that there is less racial sensitivity in France than in the U.S. People of Color are minoritized in Paris and sometimes experience microaggressions and acts of racism. If students experience this while abroad, they are encouraged to report the incident to the AIFS on-site staff.

Although France is a predominantly Catholic country, there are many places of worship for other faiths – Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist amongst others. The American church in Paris organizes regular services as well as community activities. France is a secular state and obvious signs of religion are frowned upon in public.

Paris can be a fairly expensive city but as a student you will automatically benefit from numerous reductions in cinemas, hair salons, and museums. Affordable places to eat are all around the campus and in the Latin Quarter. Your Resident Director will provide you with more information on affordable opportunities during orientation and throughout the program and students will be able to join the regular cultural activities usually included in the program fee.

Veterans in Paris are a well-respected part of the community. We strongly advise students who have counselling for PTSD at home to discuss a mental health plan (including access to necessary medications) with their doctor for while they are abroad. If you experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), AIFS can organize consultations with an English-speaking mental-health professional. The AIFS student insurance (CISI) includes access to English-speaking professional counsellors and psychotherapists who are used to working with international students.

The French enjoy different sports and physical activity and as in many big cities, moving about Paris can often feel like a workout in itself! Local parks are beautiful places to run in and cycling is also possible. Health food, vegan and organic stores abound, whilst activities like yoga or pilates are readily available. Every district has an open air food market twice a week in which locally grown, seasonal produce can be found.

By law, equal status between women and men exists in France. However, there is still work to be done for equality in wages, employment sector, and household duties. The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, prohibits sexual harassment, and provides civil penalties. While Paris is statistically a safe place for women, women travelers have been encouraged to avoid smiling at or making prolonged eye contact with men they do not know as in France, this may be interpreted as an invitation to make advances. During orientation, AIFS staff will discuss gender roles in French society.

France is thought to be a very safe country, but it is recommended that students follow "common sense" safety precautions as they would in the United States, are vigilant of their surroundings, and make a conscious effort to travel in groups as often as possible.

Download Study Abroad Resources!

Download Study Abroad Resources!