Please sign in to post.

Grandson Update

Our grandson received his travel packet to spend his first year in college in Paris. He flies out Sunday evening to London, where there will be a two day orientation before hopping on the Eurostar to Paris. He's taken his French placement test and landed just where he wanted, in the intermediate level. This means his French courses will count as credit when he transfers to a college stateside.

He is super excited. He is busy packing, which even though we travel light would be a challenge. He is working on one checked bag to last him to December. He will wait until he arrives to buy a sweater and a coat.

He studied in France for 6 weeks when in high school and has been to Paris before, so it won't be completely foreign. He'll live with 3 other students in an apartment building that houses mostly Parisian families. That will be part of his education as well. Luckily he's a mature, motivated young man and I'm sure he'll thrive under the circumstances.

Posted by
3312 posts

Awesome sauce!
I always wished I had lived overseas when I was young. Now, hope to do it at least part-time in retirement someday.
I also wished I had learned a foreign language. Those skills will serve him well! What an adventure!

Posted by
1356 posts


Wow, this is such a milestone in your grandson’s life and congratulations to him for this accomplishment. He is charting a course for a wonderful future and in the beautiful city of Paris, no less. Happy travels to him.


Posted by
490 posts

Wow. Congratulations to him. This should be a great piece of his education, both in school and out.

Posted by
5258 posts

Congratulations to your grandson!
What an amazing accomplishment!

He is busy packing, which even though we travel light would be a challenge. He is working on one checked bag to last him to December. He will wait until he arrives to buy a sweater and a coat.

He’s wise to pack light. Remind him that he’ll have laundry facilities there, right?
Make sure he packs a small duffle or backpack for when he takes short weekend trips.
He can always buy whatever he needs there.

I’m happy for your grandson as I’m reminded of how excited my daughter was when she was packing for her study abroad semester in Edinburgh.

Wishing your grandson safe travels!

Posted by
1056 posts

Good that your grandson is motivated to increase his French competency. I would caution him to avoid getting so comfortable with doing things with his roommates that he doesn’t make close French friends. I spent a student year in Germany and, as a more mature adult, look back and feel that my experience would have been a richer one, had I known that sooner.

Posted by
1340 posts

As a French teacher, this news warms my heart. He is going to have one of the best years of his life and it is going to open so many doors for him. Remind him that it is not easy to get into a French person's circle, but once you've made it you're in it for life.

I didn't have my first long-term experience until college. A month here and a month there. After graduating I applied to be an english-language teaching assistant for French public schools. It was truly the best year of my life.

Posted by
2136 posts

As a French teacher, this news warms my heart. He is going to have one of the best years of his life and it is going to open so many doors for him. Remind him that it is not easy to get into a French person's circle, but once you've made it you're in it for life.

Thanks all for the warm well wishes.

Alexander, your mention of a French person's circle made me think of our trip last October. My wife had to go to London and Paris for work (gee darn). I tagged along. We used Alcove and Agape to find a room. We stayed with a couple who lived in his grandfather's house and rented out the third floor studio where the artist grandfather worked. There were many reasons we immediately hit it off. He hosts a monthly meeting of fans of his grandfather and his work and we were honored to be invited to join their friends for the social hour after the meeting. We made many new friends that night.

I wish I could post a photo of my wife eating her breakfast croissant with Boo Boo the cat sitting in her lap. We both became fast friends of Boo Boo.

Our first trip to Europe paved the way for our grandson to be there. My wife and I were in Paris in August 1966 as part of a 21 day European trip. We've been together ever since!

Posted by
4617 posts

There are 3 kinds of study abroad.

  1. The most common, basically a guided tour where a group from the student's university goes with one of their professors for 4 or more weeks and for 1-3 classes for credit while registered at their home university. Separation from a European university it total, and the student doesn't even see the inside of a university in Europe.

  2. The hybrid, where the home university brings its own professors to a European university where they set up shop but run their own classes American style and the students are registered at the home university. The students usually stay in an international students dorm and intermingling with the local university and native study body is limited.

  3. The deep plunge, where the student through an exchange program is enrolled in the local university, takes local classes, receives a foreign transcript and is subject to the local grading system. Note that typically the final is 100% of the grade, and classroom effort, projects, quizzes and attendance are 0% of the grade. The department may take over administration of the final exam with their standardized testing-- the professor who taught the class may have 0% influence in the final grade. Your child should expect that the person who gives his final oral French exam will not be someone he has met before and hopefully doesn't have a tricky accent for foreigners to comprehend-- it's 100% of the grade after all. Note that often in Europe the students pay nothing in tuition which sounds great until you realize that the professors don't work for the students, an epic culture shift over an American university where it's all about the students. There's a reason that there are student unions in Europe. Also American professors work really hard and hold a lot of lectures, in Europe the style is much more heavily independent study.

Not trying to be a downer but I have experience here (twice) and frankly would not send another child to Europe for schooling under scenario 3. In this case it sounds like he has no experience with attending an American university so won't notice the epic cultural rift between the American and European university systems, a plus. Although with the odd London angle I can't really tell if his is scenario 2 or 3.

Posted by
5450 posts

I did #3 for a year in Montpellier. Best year of my life and a great influence on my career and life choices. Yes, adjusting to a European university system was tricky, but compared to my college in the US, it was a piece of cake. Why would you not do it again?

I also am raising two Third Culture kids here in Austria. They’ve never lived in the US but I look forward to sending them to college in the US to have that experience.

Posted by
2494 posts

Thanks for updating us again on your grandson's Parisian life, soon-to-be! I'm living vicariously through your posts. I wish I could have had the opportunity to study abroad when I was young and in college. He has certainly worked hard and I'm sure this will be an experience that will shape the rest of his life. So, here's a toast to his future and hoping you will give us periodic updates on his doings.

Posted by
14580 posts


Your grandson is already culturally attuned, sounds very mature and has a good grounding in the structure of the language since his placement exam proved it. My suggestion is keep plugging/pounding away at acquiring the language, he cannot over learn. My compliments on his linguistic achievement.

Posted by
2136 posts

He's all packed and chomping at the bit! Since he flies out of Atlanta Sunday evening, we were concerned his flight might be affected by Florence. Thankfully, the latest forecast shows minimal impact for us.

He's running on excitement and adrenaline. It wasn't quite the same, but his grandmother and I moved from Georgia to Los Angeles six months after we married for me to attend a design (art) school. I imagine that our grandson will have the same reaction I had once we'd been there a week or so. I was an "Oh shoot!" (loosely translated) moment when I realized we were in a sink or swim situation. Family help was thousands of miles away. Will will have to figure things out quickly. He's about to grow up fast, whether he wants to or not!

Posted by
2136 posts

Well, we saw Will off from the airport yesterday. We got a text from him at 4:30 this morning letting us know he had arrived at his hotel in London. The adventure begins!

He did a great job packing. His checked bag weighed in at 41 pounds. His grandmother helped him pack and organize the mound of documents and paperwork he needed to take. She takes her students to Central America or Africa every year for medical mission work that counts as part of their clinical experience. Since she is used to herding 20 students at a time, getting Will prepared was a piece of cake.

We stayed in Paris last October in a B&B and instantly connected with our hosts. We've stayed in touch ever since. I emailed her and asked her if I could share her contact information with Will. I received a sweet note back saying "but of course"! She also wanted me to tell him that he had a "grandmother in the wings" and if he needed anything, both he and the school could contact her.

To me, meeting friends like this is what traveling is all about. My cousin is traveling through Italy now and happened to stop at Castillo di Verrazzano where we stayed for a week two years ago. I told her to say "Ciao" to our friends Marco and Isabella. She said they had a great time there. It is wonderful to see "David" and "Mona Lisa", but it is just as wonderful to meet Marco, Isabella, Dominique and Erik.

Posted by
5258 posts

Hi DougMac,

What great news!
It must be so comforting to know that he has a ”grandmother” he can count on in Paris!

Thanks for the update!

Posted by
2136 posts

Will arrived safe and sound. He spent the day sightseeing with his group. He and his roommate slept through both their alarms this morning and got a call from the chaperone.

He’s having a ball, but is a little freaked over food costs. His Raman lunch set him back $20.00! We told him he was in the touristy areas and when he gets to Paris, he’ll soon discover the cheaper places to eat. I’m thinking he’ll be cooking at home a lot.

He has a 5:30 am call tomorrow to catch the Eurostar. He’ll get to his apartment tomorrow afternoon. Thursday will be more placement tests and Friday is registration. Classes start Monday.

Posted by
2136 posts

This morning we got a virtual tour of Will's apartment via FaceTime. He arrived from London on the Eurostar and was getting settled in.
The apartment is nicer than I expected. I looks to be on the third floor of the building. There's a small balcony overlooking a residential street and theirs a window on the other side that faces the courtyard.

The kitchen is typically small but functional. The bedroom and bathroom are nice. He and his roommate will be bunking up, though. I had a roommate in a much smaller dorm room and did fine.

The bonus is that there is a washer, so no trips to the launderette. There's only a rack to dry, though, so loads will have to be small. Will is off to orientation. It was nice to see him getting settled in and doing well.