1. Traveling is
While trains are very pricey all over France, traveling by planes or a bus systems is insanely cheap. I went a little overboard and booked a trip every single weekend of my three-month stay and I paid under 500 Euros for all the flights/bus fares combined. This weekend, I have a flight from Paris to Krakow that I only paid 40 Euros for! The key is to book in advance–the longer you wait, the more you pay.
2. There are hidden gastronomical pleasures everywhere
I discovered some of the best fromageries, patisseries, etc. through my tourism and gastronomy course. You can buy an awesome cheese from the “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”–the most prestigious award for artisans of gastronomy–for less than 5 Euros. I am living on a student budget, so unfortunately I do not have the means to discover the best restaurants across Paris, but buying an assortment of quality products and having a picnic is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
3. The art of dining is not the same
I was taken aback by the way the French dine after my first dinner with my host family. My roommate and I sat down with our host parents and were handed bread that we were told to place not on our plates, but on the table. Then we began with the main course. I looked over at my host parents; they were both using their forks and their knives for every bite, not just when cutting. They scoop the food onto their fork with the knife, which is way easier than chasing your food around your plate in an attempt to get it on your fork. After the main course, we were served salad, which was a bit odd because in the United States that usually comes before the main course. After salad, we used our bread that we previously set on the table, and ate it with cheese. Then came dessert. Dinner is served in the same fashion every single night, which is also different than in the U.S. because sometimes there is a salad, sometimes desert, etc., but not all the time.
4. The metro is your best friend and your worst enemy
You can get basically anywhere in Paris when you take the metro, but you will feel like a sardine in a can. I do not live particularly close to school or any of my friends so I frequent the metro every day and every day is a new adventure. I love how fast it is and that it gives me a break off my feet, but at the same time it’s a bit overwhelming to be gasping for air and clutching your bag for dear life during peak times. Sometimes the metro even comes equipped with “live entertainment.” Performers will bring things from a drum to a whole puppet show into the metro. Full of sights, sounds and people, the metro is definitely one of the best and worst things about Paris.
Want to read more from Savanna? Check out “3 Questions to Ask Before You Study Abroad in Paris”