Paris: Making the Most of Your Experience

Posted on Saturday, Apr 04, 2020

Have you ever dreamt about Paris? How amazing it must be? How spectacular or romantic? While Paris is wonderful place filled with history and culture, it is not necessarily what everyone expects from the moment they step off the metro. Like any other city, Paris can be intimidating and hard to navigate. For example, I arrived in Paris in the middle of the longest public transportation strike in French history, making it extremely difficult to get around the city. To put it simply, expectations do not always equal reality in Paris.

 

However, the good news is that Paris offers a unique experience for everyone. Whether you’re studying abroad here for a semester, or just stopping in for a weekend trip- the city is whatever you make it. It’s all about perspective. Here are some things to keep in mind when forming your views on the city that could make or break your experience:

•   French people are not actually rude- despite this stereotype, they are actually quite friendly if you respect their standards of etiquette.

•   Protests are part of French political culture- while they might be inconvenient in terms of public transport, demonstrations are actually a very interesting/common aspect of Parisian culture and are a way of expressing popular political or social beliefs.

•   There is always something to do- whether you are looking for something touristy or local, Paris has such a rich culture and history that is worth exploring throughout the city (museums, local markets, restaurants, etc.).

•   Most people speak English very well - if you make an effort to speak their language (no matter how broken), the locals will also make an effort to communicate to you in yours.

•   Not all good food is expensive - although it seems like everything is extremely pricey in the city, you can get good authentic Parisian food without dropping all your cash at a five star restaurant (go to local bakeries, try crêpes from street vendors, get fresh food from the market, etc.).

Paris is an amazing city that I highly encourage people to visit. Although the reality of Paris might be totally different from what you might have imagined, keeping an open mind is the key to having a great time. 

Kyra Easton
U.S. Commercial Service
Paris, France | spring 2020