Deciding to spend a summer in France was probably one of the scariest decisions I've ever made; between Celiac disease and my other food allergies, I did not know what I was getting myself into. However, I was able to assess, adapt, and conquer my fears while having some of the best food of my life.

bread, pastry, sweet, wheat, dough, flour, cake
Liz Kaplan

To tell you a bit about me I was diagnosed with severe Celiac disease three years ago, and I've developed dairy and egg allergies after that. Due to that, for the past year and a half, I've been vegan because of my increasing sensitivity to food. This summer, I took a once in a lifetime opportunity and travelled to Provence, France for a study abroad quarter. I mean, what better place for me to spend the summer than the Mecca of bread and cheese, right?

cookie, gingerbread
Gina Occhipinti

Honestly, when I first got here, I was terrified. I did not know how or what I was going to eat. I didn't know how sick I'd get. I didn't know if I'd be able to support my body. I was expecting the worst, and I didn't know how to approach anyone about what was wrong with me. However, with the help of my amazing friends, the university, and different experiences, I learned that eating out here isn't as scary as it seems.

Fruit, Cooking, Kitchen, Blonde, Bowl, oranges, apron, girl, coffee, strawberry
Julia Gilman

First off, if you're planning on coming out to a foreign country with any type of allergy or food restriction, stay in a place with a kitchen. I was at the university's campus, so I had a dining hall who knew about my allergies. This doesn't mean that I had a beautifully customized meal everyday, but I learned to use the food I had access to and get the most out of it. I'm a connoisseur of salad making now.

For anyone else, find a place with a kitchen. In France, fresh fruits and vegetables are everywhere, and there are markets and produce stands galore. Give yourself the opportunity to experience the food and enjoy it.

minimalistic, interiors, Interior, Minimalist, menu, breakfast, brunch, restaurants, Restaurant, cafe, coffee
Denise Uy

Secondly, keep your eye open for restaurants with options. It won't be as easy in the smaller towns, but in Paris, there were so many gluten-free options. I was so excited, and I had some of the best food of my life while I was there.

One of my favorite spots was LouLou which had the BEST FREAKING SANDWICH I've ever had. Yes, a gluten-free, vegan sandwich with a side of fries. Communicate to the waiters what restrictions you have; you can also get allergy cards which explains it in the language. They'll give you a funny look, but they are understanding and take the cooking very seriously. Don't be afraid to speak up.

laughing girls, summertime, outside, summer outdoors, Ocean, Friends, Laugh, smile, water, watermelon
Julia Gilman

Last, but certainly not least, enjoy yourself! It's so easy to get caught up with working about getting sick or when you are going to eat, but in the end, staying mindful about your nutrition will ensure good food and great times. Go out to the cafés & get some french fried and wine! Enjoy the local markets and street vendors! Eat sorbet and watch the sun set at La Tour Eiffel! Explore the countrysides and ancient ruins in the regions. There is so much to do and enjoy; go and experience all of it.

China, Shanghai, streets, street, sidewalk, exteriors, exterior, Restaurant, cafe, coffee
Denise Uy

#SpoonTip: Some really great restaurants to try in Paris: Bears & Raccoons, Thank You, My Dear, & Kapunka!