Friday, January 24, 2014

8 Paris Survival Tips (Paige Edition)

It's been a little over a month since I returned from Paris and I thought it was about time I made a list like this.

I promise you this is a very important piece of advice; that's why it's number 1. You're going to want to look at all the scenery and I encourage that, but pay attention to where you are walking!  Parisians don't like to pick up their dogs poop so if you aren't paying attention YOU WILL STEP IN IT.
2. Make sure you say "bonjour" when you walk into a store. Also make sure to let the other person say "bonjour" back before you start talking.
Even if there's no one there really to say "bonjour" to, it's really important that you do this. The French are really attached to their culture and traditions, and tend to be set in their ways. Since a lot of store were often below the homes of the owners, it was like you were entering someones home and it was important to say "bonjour" to the owner of the store and the house; this custom is still important today. Another really odd important thing to know is when you need help or you start talking to someone inside a store, start by saying "bonjour" and wait until they say "bonjour" back before you continue talking. The French find American's very superficial, so when you don't wait for them to respond to you, they see it as you don't actually care about them you're just saying hello because you feel like you have to. They want to feel as if you are acknowledging them as a person before them as a means to a service.

3. If you need your waiter, get up and get them; they aren't coming to you.
Everyone knows the stereotype that French waiters are rude and snobbish, and I can say that some are and some aren't, and there's a reason for this. French people in general aren't as outgoing as Americans; they don't really want to have to talk to you any longer than completely necessary. That's why when you order food, your receipt comes with your food. You don't need to leave, you can stay for five hours if you want to, they just don't want to have to talk to you again. So if you need something from your waiter, you need to stand up and start looking for them because they won't be back.

4. When in Rome, do as the Romans (or in this case the French) do.
As a student living in Paris, I tried to pick up most of the social ques by watching what other Parisians did. I never waited for crosswalk lights and I never apologized when I bumped into people on the streets or in the metro. I wasn't trying to be rude, I was just mimicking what I saw because the last thing you want to do in the Paris underground is stand out as a foreigner. Try to watch for these ques and follow suit, it will help you a lot.

5. Take advantage of your resources!
This tip is a bit like number 4 but I thought it deserved it's own tip. Another very "French" thing to do is really utilize their different food resources. A French person will go to the grocery store at least once a day and will often go to specialty shops instead of buying everything at Monoprix. I say, if you can, try as many of these specialty shops as you can! There are stores for meats, breads, cheese, and pastries, and they're all amazing. Take advantage if you have the opportunities because it's going to be near impossible to find anything like this in the States.

6. Embrace the social norms.
Mostly the idea that you will be touching a lot of people in the metro. They might be stinky and they might be dirty but every Parisian has to do it so get ready. Do whatever you have to do mentally to prepare youself.

7. Adjust your volume.
If you're like me and you talk a grand volume naturally, try to be more conscious of it. Like I said before, you don't want to stick out as a foreigner in Paris. The city isn't dangerous by nature but it can be if you aren't careful. You don't want to give others the chance to take advantage of you. Speaking loudly and speaking loudly in English will make you stand out immensely. Try your best to speak French and speak at an inside volume.

8. Be a river not a wall.
We all have these preconceived notions about the French that you will care with you when you travel. If you can, I recommend reading a cross-cultural book or taking a class before you decide to travel. It will really help you integrate yourself into the city because you will be able to understand the reasons behind the actions. You will be confronted with a lot of issues you might not know how to deal with right away. Give yourself time to adjust and try to be as flexible as you can. Being stubborn will get you nowhere so my most important piece of advice to give is to be a river. Let the culture flow through you and try to take in what you can instead of refusing to understand another culture. It will be different from yours and this might be difficult but you will enjoy yourself much more if you try accepting what is the new norm instead of fighting it. 

My metro stop

On the steps where they shot Midnight in Paris
 Bisous mes cheris***

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