Tips For Making It Work in France
I am not exactly whom you would consider a world traveler. In fact, before this trip I had never left the country. While I haven’t been all over the world, I have been lucky enough to spend the past three weeks living in Paris, France. In my three weeks here I have had some really wonderful experiences and I have learned a lot. If you plan on travelling or studying abroad in this beautiful place, I have a few tips that might just help you make it work here.
Do – Be patient
Kiana and I have learned that service here in France is nothing like service at home. The French enjoy taking their time and there is something special in that. The French don’t rush to get through a meal. Because of that they are able to enjoy their meal to the fullest. They can savor their food and also enjoy the company they may be dining with. When we go to a café for lunch we expect our meal to last for at least an hour and we make sure to ask for items like ketchup or sugar right when our meal and coffee have been delivered because we know that the server wont be back to check on us until we’re ready to order dessert or pay the bill. When looking for a quick meal the best option is stopping by a kebab or crepe stand. However; coming from America, a place where everybody wants to get everything done as fast as possible, I encourage you to take your time. Live like the French, be patient, and just enjoy the moment.
Don’t – Let the little things get to you
I have realized that in order to be a happy traveler I must be very optimistic. Things go wrong everyday. Not big things, but little things go wrong. Little things like walking in the wrong direction after getting off the metro and having to walk back in the freezing cold for an extra five minutes. Our second week here Kiana and I spent at least twenty minutes trying to get into our apartment because we couldn’t figure out the locks, we were late for a class field trip but we still managed to stay positive and laugh at ourselves for struggling with such a simple task. On another day, Kiana and I found ourselves caught in heavy rain and some snowfall. We didn’t have an umbrella and we were shivering but we were on a mission to see the Eiffel Tower so that is what we did. As we got closer to the tower the rain stopped and the sun came out, we enjoyed a bottle of wine and some cookies just under it and quickly we forgot all about how cold, wet, and miserable we were just minutes earlier. France has a way of turning your bad day to go if you’re willing to let it.
Do – Try to speak French, at least a little bit
Kiana and I were enjoying a meal at a café outside Versailles when we both noticed the two girls at the next table over were speaking English. “Yes, I can understand them!”, I thought. I was excited that that these girls shared our language, until I overheard them speak to our server. They did not attempt to speak a word of French to our server who did not understand English very well. They ordered in English and wanted to make substitutions on both their meals. I was quickly frustrated with them and I wasn’t even their server. After struggling to figure out what the girls wanted the server looked a bit overwhelmed to which one of the girls said in a sassy tone, “I’m sorry, is there a problem”. I thought, “uh yeah it’s you”. The truth is most French speak English so you can easily get by everyday here, but as a respect to them, you must at least try. Start off with a simple “bonjour” and then ask “parlez-vous anglais?”. Trust me, you will receive much better service when your server knows you at least tried.
Do – Travel to France
Eat the carbs, take the metro, try the escargot, drink the hot chocolate, see the Eiffel Tower, eat at a café, walk along the Seine, buy clothes from the boutiques, and drink all the wine. See this wonderful place first-hand, it will not let you down.