What's not to like about CIEE Paris Open Campus? Their staff are amazing and the classes immerse you as much as they can with the city. Mixed with the atmosphere and endless food of Paris, this is a European dream come true with an added bonus of getting college credits (if your college accepts the classes).
The pre-departure showed how organized their program is with their director, Brent Keever, hosting a video session, giving a rundown of Paris, what to expect, what to do when you land in Paris, and other useful information with a quick and useful presentation. For those who miss the presentation, there is a vod of it.
The staff at CIEE Paris also provides many activities for those who have similar interest ranging from fitness to cooking to arts. It's a good way to meet other students on campus and explore the city! Along with the outings are program-wide excursions where they take the entire campus to another area. For the two blocks I stayed, we went to Bordeaux, France and Brussels, Belgium!
With so many options to how long you can stay for their Open Campus program, it can lead to either a short-lived life in the City of Lights, or a long couple months of adventure with your new peers. Pack as little and lightly for Paris. You can choose to bring some tennis shoes if you like to run (which I do), but don't expect to wear them every day unless you like getting stared at on the streets or in the metro. You'll want to head to La Gallerie Lafayette or the nearby stores and pick up some Parisian clothes. Plan ahead for the weather!
CIEE Paris Open Campus also offered a home stay or dormitory option. For those who aren't too shy and want to be immersed with the French and their lifestyle, choose the home stay. I did and I don't regret it one bit. My host parents and my host siblings were amazing. They had different meals every night the French would normally have (along with wine, baguette, and cheese to go with, of course), and they very much like to socialize during dinner. Though my host siblings were busy for the most part, the time I actually had to spend with them was priceless, especially on the last day of my stay.
Safety is a huge concern to the staff and they always want their students to feel safe. Although there has been several "attacks" while I was in Paris, I never once felt in danger from while I was there. The only time I felt uneasy was when beggars or those who ask to sign petitions approach you since they're at all the major tourist areas like the Louvre.
I've gotten asked what my favorite part of my trip was in Paris was so here it goes: I befriended a person during Block 1 of Paris Open Campus. Her name is Zoey. We hung out quite often as we had similar classes and were both part of a home stay. On Valentine's Day, we bought cheap pink champagne at the grocery store down the street from where I stayed and plastic champagne glasses to go along with. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower with the champagne and glass in our bags and managed to get through security. We climbed the tower and got to the very top floor and had our champagne instead of paying ~€30 for it.
This was my first study abroad experience and I don't regret it at all. It has been a life-changing experience and I've made many friends and memories I won't soon forget. If I can do it again, I would. Anyone interested in Paris or Europe in general should look at CIEE and their many programs.