Today I decided to write about the useful information I have learned while studying in France. I don’t know if this is the same for all countries, but this is true for me, at least in France.
Premier: The French you learned in language class is different than the French that is actually spoken in France. Yes, simple phrases like “J’aime bien ton sac” will get you by, but the French use more expressions than I learned in class. Like, “Ca m’egal” which means “it doesn’t matter to me.”
Deuxieme: Stores are not open on Sunday or Monday, which means running errands and shopping is done during a week day or Saturday. Sunday is seen as a day for rest, or just a day for activities with the family like visiting a museum. I have noticed that some of the major grocery stores like Monoprix (like a Target) are open until noon, then close for the remainder of the day. So if you forgot to buy that baguette for dinner, you will not have a baguette.
Troisieme: The French eat a lot of bread. Bread is a staple in the French diet, everywhere you eat you will always be served a basket of bread. And every night with my host family, having bread and cheese right before dessert is normal. Why wouldn’t you indulge in some amazing French cheese? Even the bigger brands you can buy in the States, like President, tastes better in France.
Quatrieme: Walking is a norm for the French. It’s no wonder the French are so fit, they walk everywhere! While I was in Paris this past weekend I walked about 14 miles each day, my boots broke, and now I have massive calluses under my feet. In the United States, everything is so spread out that walking is difficult to do. But here in Europe it’s normal to walk a few blocks to run errands versus the American idea of driving everywhere for everything.
Enfin: Enjoy every moment and try to fit in! Act French and walk with a purpose–this is true for every city in the world. Studying abroad has been the most amazing and eye opening experience of my life. With my host family I am learning about the French politics and history.