I’m having a really hard time believing that I have already been here for a month… where has the time gone? My days are really long here and time seems to move slower, but my schedule has been so packed that my conception of time is one huge blur. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve lived here all my life – isn’t that strange?
It’s been a month and I can confidently say that I have adapted to the French lifestyle. I can feel my French language skills improving and it makes me so happy! The other day, I had my first no-hesitation conversation with a mailman at the post office. I felt so accomplished in that moment – I spoke all French, no awkward pauses, completely understood what he was saying… it was such a rewarding experience!
Anyway, I’m in the mood to make another list. Here are 7 Random Things that I’ve learned from Living in Paris for a Month!
1. Dinner before 7 is considered early!?
TRUE STORY: My friends and I tried to get dinner one day at about 6pm and nothing was open. We hungrily walked through several blocks of Paris looking for a place to eat and had no success – most places didn’t open until 7 at the earliest. After living here for a month, I’ve learned that it is pretty normal to eat dinner late by American standards. I usually eat my dinner between 8-10 now… it’s going to be tricky to readjust when I go home!
2. Restaurants: Pay & Stay
Eating practices in France are very different than in the US and it is super common to stay at a restaurant for 2-3+ hours at a time. When I first came here, servers would give me a confused look when I would ask for the check less than an hour into the meal… it’s like it’s obligatory to stay more than an hour. I didn’t realize that it was normal to stay for a long time until I noticed other people doing it… Really, you could stay as long as you’d like, even if it’s for the full day, as long as you’re a paying customer. I’ve gotten into the habit of going to a café for dinner at about 8ish and then staying for several hours afterwards to study, and they’ve never tried to kick me out – it’s great!
3. Bikes = your travel bestie
Having a car is not a necessity in Paris because there are so so so many different modes of transportation that are all pretty reliable. (Let’s be real here, driving in Paris isn’t for the faint hearted!) My favorite mode of transportation? Biking! Paris is so biker friendly: there’s an inexpensive rent-a-bike service called Velib that’s stationed basically everywhere, it only costs you 1 euro ($1.12) for the first hour, the city is full of dedicated bike lanes, and the streets are super wide and smooth! What better way to get from point A to point B than to bike through this beautiful city?
4. Parisians love to strike
As part of my program, I was required to sign up for an alert service that emails me every time something potentially dangerous happens in Paris. 99% of those emails are alerts on strikes, whether it’s the taxi drivers, the health workers, or some other irritated group of society… someone’s always on strike in France. My inbox is full of almost-daily strike updates – must be the French spirit of rebellion!
5. “OH MY GOSH, IS THIS REAL MELON!?”
I used this line to describe the watermelon flavored gelato that I had the other day. Fruit flavors taste like real fruit… Wow!! It sounds somewhat silly to say this, but tell me: in the states, how many times have you tried a grape flavored *something* that actually tasted like grapes? My guess is probably never! In France, ice tea pêche (peach iced tea) actually tastes like peaches, strawberry yogurt tastes like strawberry… you get the point. No artificially sweet and syrupy flavors here, across the board! I LOVE IT!
6. Save your tips!
Tipping servers is not a thing in France like it is in America. In most cases, the service fee is already included in the price on the menu. I really like this because 1) it makes paying a check much easier in a group setting because everyone pays their fair share and you don’t have that one person who always pays extra for the taxes and tip (me) and 2) you pay what you’re expected to pay. It’s honestly so much easier to deal with, we need this in America!
7. “Wait, this is a bathroom?”
Bathrooms in Paris are so… COOL. I never thought I’d be saying this about a bathroom, haha! Obviously they aren’t all the same, but each bathroom that I’ve been in has something different about it that I find SO COOL, examples being:
– paper towel dispensers that roll out actual cloth towel
– self-disinfecting toilet seats
– genderless bathrooms (and the lines moved so quickly, it was so great)
– self-disinfecting public porter-potties (YES THIS IS A REAL THING AND IT’S AWESOME)
– actual bathrooms, aka individual rooms with toilets
I realize that these are all minor details and it probably seems strange that I notice these things, but I can’t help but wonder how public bathroom norms came to be in the US – who decides what goes in a bathroom and why? There are so many things that can be improved in the typical American public bathroom (see list above) and I find it really interesting to compare and contrast the differences!
What was the most interesting random thing from this list? Share in the comments below!
New media posts coming soon, promise! Bonne journée mes amis! 🙂