Kelsey Desmond is a gap year student and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA Gap Year in Paris, France.
Sixty-four years after the release of George and Ira Gershwin’s Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning musical film, people are still wondering how to be “An American in Paris.” If you’re one of the many, here’s a quick and easy guide to get you started:
Step One: “Frenchify” yourself. Of course, the first step towards surviving in a foreign environment is assimilation. Particularly in Paris, where pickpocketing is a common career choice amongst men and women of all ages, it’s advised to blend in with the locals in order to avoid being targeted as a tourist. This includes adopting some French habits such as dressing nicely for most outings, learning not to smile at every stranger you meet, and actually making a real effort to learn the language. It’s also important to walk with a purpose. A head held high shows that you know where you’re going and aren’t some lost and naive tourist upon whom to be preyed.
Step Two: Learn not to waste. It’s no secret that the cost of living in Paris is not the most affordable in the world, so many Americans in Paris are often trying to survive on a budget. Parisians tend not to waste food. It’s customary to either eat everything off your plate or save it to eat for later, instead of throwing out leftovers like many do in America. Electricity is also incredibly expensive in Paris, so lights are only turned on when necessary, and houses are air conditioned mostly by simply opening the windows.
Step Three: Meet French friends. The best people you can be with as an American in Paris is not other Americans in Paris. It’s les jeunes francais (French young people) who can show you the ropes and guide you whenever you get lost. They also are the best resources for learning colloquial French speech and every-day culture.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being proud to be an American, but following these tips can really help your study abroad in Paris be as “s’wonderful” as possible!