Traveling Europe & Studying Abroad in France as an American

Studying abroad can be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the language of your host country, but this wasn’t a major obstacle for me because most people are more than happy to communicate in English. During my semester abroad in the French Riviera I discovered new places where different languages are spoken throughout my travels. Some of these places include Italy, London, the Netherlands, Paris, Monaco, and many more!  

Most flights in Europe offer instructions/announcements in both in the original language and English. 

A table with plates of food, including dumplings, for two study abroad students

A local restaurant in Amsterdam with amazing food where staff spoke English. 

Through these travels, I shared about the U.S. when locals asked me where I came from and why I was in the area. For example, when in a restaurant in Italy the staff was super friendly and talked to me in English but was also very nice and taught me some Italian. In Paris I was often asked about where I was from and what my favorite parts about France were.  

A study abroad student standing in front of the Louvre glass pyramid building and smiling at the camera

When navigating the city of Paris, we were asked by many people about the U.S.; we met many people from around the world at the Louvre. 

A wall from the Anne Frank museum with two blocks of text printed on them, the first in Dutch and the second in English

The Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam, where they’ve translated the journal pieces of Anne’s writings to English.  

Locally, I made friends with some local French people who were interested in the U.S. and our culture. I shared the differences I learned between the U.S. and France and learned French from them. Sometimes as an American it can be difficult to be in a different culture but in the French Riviera it was a smooth process as the culture was very accepting of U.S. culture and language.  

A table with a large coffee in a mug and saucer and an electronic tablet and pen sitting on it

Studying at local coffee shops in Antibes which speak both French and English willingly.  


A stone wall with a body of water in the background

Many locals in Antibes are friendly and intrigued about the U.S. 

One main thing that changed my perspective on U.S. culture is the way that we communicate with each other. In France there’s a perceived conception of Americans that they’re really loud; I never really thought about this until it emerged in the culture. I experienced this in a restaurant where my roommate and I were sitting eating dinner in a quiet dining room near a table of American tourists who were loud and obnoxious. Things like this made me aware of the differences between cultures. Since being abroad I think this has impacted me and the way I interact with others, as I’m more cautious. This will be something I’m more aware of when returning to the States.  

A study abroad student sitting on a wall and smiling at a camera in front of a body of water and large bridge

Touring Tower Bridge in London where we met others from the U.S.  

Two study abroad students smiling at the camera and sitting on a bench inside a boat in front of windows

An English-speaking canal tour in Amsterdam which taught us about the history of the city.  

Although it can feel weird to stand out, it was awesome to see the number of people that I met in my travels or locally who were interested in the U.S. or have been, allowing me to share about my life in the U.S. and the differences between cultures. 

A study abroad student facing away from the camera to take a picture of a scene while standing inside a glass pod

Meeting other people from different parts of the world in the London Eye while learning about the city.  

Two study abroad students taking a selfie and smiling while standing by bikes on a city sidewalk

Biking the city of Amsterdam with my roommate during our holiday.  

Kara Barnes is the Content Creator – Photographer in French Riviera, France, and is currently studying at Cedarville University.


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