Rhuberlyne (Rhuby) Toussaint is a Junior Legal Communications major, Political Science minor from Long Island, NY attending Howard University.
I interviewed Rhuby about her time thus far in the city of love! She's had a few ups and downs but she's adjusting to everything as each day progresses. Below are the questions and responses. I hope you guys enjoy!
Fatou: Where are you currently studying abroad and how long will you be there/have been there?
Rhuby: Paris, France. I got here at the beginning of January and I’ll be here until May.
Fatou: Have you been out of the country before this current trip?
Rhuby: Yes. I’ve been on trips to the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti. In high school, I took a trip to Paris, Barcelona and Madrid.
Fatou: What type of classes are you taking over there?
Rhuby: Political Science classes, communication classes and French classes.
Fatou: Is it difficult not being able to speak the native language and travel abroad?
Rhuby: For me, since I’m Haitian, I speak Haitian Creole (for those of you who don’t know, Haitian Creole is a French-based Creole language). It’s a pro and a con. Some words, French people don’t understand when I say them so it can be difficult sometimes.
Fatou: If you recall, how was your first day being in France?
Rhuby: My first day was a disaster. Very hectic. I left from JFK. The terminal that I was leaving from had a pipe burst. My flight was cancelled and nobody had told me or the other passengers. I took an Uber back home; however, in the middle of the night, I woke up at 5am and looked at my phone. I saw that there was a flight leaving for 8am. I didn’t say bye to my parents (for the second time), got up and took an Uber back to the airport. I was foreseeing myself get on the flight. When I landed, I found out that the airport lost my luggage. I finally made it to my apartment building that doesn’t have an elevator. My first day was pretty discombobulated.
Fatou: As a black woman traveling abroad, why is this trip important for you?
Rhuby: I played this game at a mentoring program called cross the line where you cross over the line if a statement applies to you. The statement was “cross the line if you’ve ever gone out of the country”. I was the only one who crossed the line. The girls were intrigued. I want to take advantage of all opportunities. This entire process, I did by myself. I paid for my visa. I paid for my flight. I want to show other girls that this is real and that this can happen. It is attainable.
Fatou: Describe your typical day in Paris.
Rhuby: I wake up. I first go to a bakery and get a croissant. I’ve become so addicted to bread. Then, I go to class. The classes are pretty long. After class, I try to do at least 2 things a week. Visit a museum or go somewhere I’ve never been before. Most people eat later in the day. There’s a lot of things that I had to adjust to. Not doing the same self-care routines that I’m used to. I hang out with my roommates a lot. Drink a lot of wine. Eat a lot of cheese. I like to get fruits and vegetables from a nearby market.
Fatou: What do you do about your hair and nails?
Rhuby: I have not gotten my nails done yet. I had faux locs when I got here but I took them out. Instagram has become my best friend. I’m planning on getting my hair braided and looked through hashtags. I found somebody to do my hair and nails for my birthday.
Fatou: What do you miss the most about Howard?
Rhuby: I miss being around people that understood me straight off the bat. You don’t realize what you miss until you leave that rich culture. The black people here are not the same as the black people in America. In France, they’re taught to teach everyone equally. France holds equality, liberty and brotherhood to a high standard.
Fatou: What’s the food like?
Rhuby: I haven’t had a bad meal here yet. This food is really different. It tastes fresher. The people really care about what they’re eating. Interesting dishes such as snail taste good too. One thing I don’t like is the fusion of food. There’s a taco spot that opened on my block, but it’s not Mexican food. A fusion of American tacos with a French-style would better describe it.
Fatou: What’s the culture like?
Rhuby: Paris reminds me so much of New York. You stay over there, I stay over here. Very reserved. Parisians have a high standard, like people from New York. I thought French people would be more mean, but people are more inclined to help.
Fatou: If there is one piece of advice you could offer, what would it be?
Rhuby: Any new experience you’re entering, have an open mind. Try to have a non-objective view when you’re learning about other cultures. Just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s bad.
For more study abroad experiences, visit my site every day this week. Tomorrow, check out Aye's Amazing Experiences from Barcelona, Spain to San José, Costa Rica!