Kerry Ulm is a student at The Ohio State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Paris, France.
You’ve just arrived in Paris! While you’re busy bouncing around between Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Sacré-Coeur, here’re some games that you can play to get to know the city:
1. The Friendly Framerican
This one is a misnomer, I’ll admit. The trick of the game is actually to look as bored as is humanly possible. When out in public, if you’re interested in minding your own business and not drawing unnecessary attention, it’s important to fake being French. Mainly this means walking with purpose and trying not to smile too much. Bonus: someone might come up to you and ask for directions in rapid French! Of course, you won’t have a clue what they’re saying, so the jig will be up. But after stuttering and offering the customary “je ne sais pas…”, keep on playing the game!
Blending in, no matter the side effects, is a great way to travel. It’s wonderful to see the city from an insider’s perspective instead of as a walking American embassy.
2. Spot the Pickpocket
One of my favorite games to play on the metro is “Spot the Pickpocket.” You win by staying alert to your surroundings, and you lose if a pickpocket instead spots you. Being aware of what’s going on around you helps keep you safe, but it also makes it easier to learn the city. If you know where you are whenever you are, you’re less stressed, happier, and more likely to know your way around.
3. Maps and Apps
Paris is a bit wonky when it comes to street organization. Throw out any standard definitions of a city “block,” and get used to the idea of triangles and trapezoids. Something that helps with this? Apps! (as well as small physical maps). Download metro apps and map apps, in particular. On most GPS-enabled cell phones, you can use the GPS function without using data, so when you’re lost, don’t whip out a giant map! Just casually glance down at your phone and oh-so-subtly do an about-face with a turn on your heel.
So, break out your scoring cards, and start taking bets. What star navigator will triumph at “Maps and Apps” with a simple “I think it’s this way?” Which people person will charge to the top by answering the rapid French with a clever “à gauche”? Just remember the ultimate prize: you’re actually living in the beautiful city of Paris, France.
Want to read more about The City of Light? Check out “4 Truths No One Told Me About Paris”