Over the last six weeks I’ve noticed a lot of differences between my life in France and my life in the US—some that made it better, and some that definitely didn’t. It’s going to be bittersweet leaving France tomorrow, so to commemorate that, here’s a list of pros (to keep the good parts in my memory) and cons (to make me feel better about leaving).
Every Sunday, my host family and I would do some activity together, like visiting a chateau or having a small get together with extended family. It was weird at first because I’m used to doing homework and relaxing on Sunday, but after a few weeks it became normal.
One thing I loved about meals is that everyone waits to eat together. This was really different than my own experience in the US where typically everyone in the house eats when they have time in their schedule.
3. Public Transportation
France has the best public transportation system I’ve ever used. Not only is it really easy to figure out which bus or tram you need to take, but the busses and trams come frequently. I once found myself annoyed after waiting for the tram for 5 minutes…
Everyone here seems to be outside all the time, which I love. At home, we eat a lot of our meals outside, and most restaurants have a nice outdoor patio that most people prefer to use. Additionally, all of groups of french friends will either meet up at bars and just sit on the outside or meet in a public area (for example, on the banks of the river) and hang out for a few hours.
Arguably my favorite thing about France is the prominent market and picnic culture. Numerous times my host mom or my friends and I have headed to the local market to grab fresh fruit, baked goods, or cheese and brought it afterwards for a picnic by the river or chateau.
Some of the best food I’ve ever had…
One of the most annoying things about France is that every bathroom is separated into two rooms–one with the toilet and one with the shower and sink. In my house we only had the toilet room on the second floor and the shower room on the first, so every time I used the bathroom I was travelling an extra floor to wash my hands.
Unfortunately, one of the things my friends and I have noticed is that men in our experience appear to be more aggressive here, and will follow closely behind you or even touch you on the shoulders or back when they want to get your attention 🙁
I’m not sure that standoffish is exactly the right word to describe this, but in public the French people keep to themselves. It’s extremely rare to make conversation with someone sitting next to you on the bus or to compliment another person’s outfit like you would in the US.
4. Air Conditioning
I made it five weeks without air conditing no problem, but this week has been in the high 80’s and I have an attic bedroom that is thick with humidity. I’d settle for a fan even, but this heat was definitely a challenge for me.
…and some of the worst.
No matter how many cons I write though, I couldn’t imagine a better place to have spent six weeks of my summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to return soon, but for now, au revoir!