You might be reading this and asking yourself, “what is socially acceptable in a country like Paris?” Coming into a different country, you have no idea what to expect.
The norms are different and people may look at you weird if you break one of their social norms. For instance, to this day I still ponder whether I misunderstood one of their social norms while I was shopping for food when I first arrived into Paris. I scattered to the front of the store to pay for my items and I turn to my right to see an older gentleman glancing at me. I thought to myself, “okay no big deal, I’ll just smile and be friendly towards him.” However, he came up to me and said, “your eyes are very dreamy” and I stuttered for a quick second out of puzzlement. I just said okay thank you and the gentleman kept going on about how cute I was. As I left the store he turned to me once again and blew me a kiss. As I burst out of laughter out of the store, I didn’t know what had just happened to me. Was this a normal thing in France or was my smile towards him considered flirting in this culture? If you are considering to study abroad in Paris yourself, here are some tips on what to do and what not to do in the Parisian culture.
- Practice your French, approach every Parisian by at least saying “Bonjour” (Hello) and “Au Revior” (Goodbye). It seems to me if you don’t speak any type of French here, the Parisians are rude to you. It is polite to the French to at least say hello and goodbye.
- Dress similar to the French. Winter: close your coat or even wrap your scarf all around. It’s easy to spot out who is a tourists and who is not, by the way someone dresses. If people can spot you as a tourist, they may target you.
- Make sure to have fun while studying aboard, but be cautious of your surroundings because the terrorist levels tend to be higher than the states. Be prepared for officers to even check your bags at McDonalds. Safety is even more critical here in Paris.
- Don’t be the typical American who is super loud in public, especially riding the metro. You will get death stares if you’re yelling on the metro. Just have a blank face like most of the Parisians on the metro and you will be fine.
- Make sure to keep track of your belongings and don’t put your phone or valuables in a place where you can be pick pocked. Paris is known for pickpocketers. I have witnessed first hand of others getting their phone stolen and the even seen the thieves running down the street.
- Don’t smile too much at one person because like my experience it may be mistaken for flirting in their culture.
Overall, you will adapt well to their culture and learn many great things on your new journey!