1. Everybody, including students, reads the newspaper. Everyone is involved in politics – not just political science majors. People know what is happening in the country, in the EU and internationally. It would be common to go to a bar and get into a debate with someone about a political issue. Politics and intellect are welcomed and admired. I’m not surprised by the incredible response to the shooting in Paris with the Je Suis Charlie movement. It’s a perfect display of how each citizen is involved with their country and is equally proud of it.
2. There is an aisle at the grocery store just for cheese. And one for yogurt. Food does not disappoint in France.
3. Everyone has killer style – no matter what age. This isn’t a stereotype that disappoints. It’s also cool how everyone has their own style, but mostly France is filled with well-dressed, classy and minimilistic fashion.
4. People literally eat baguettes everywhere, including the metro. I’m not kidding! They walk down the street with a full baguette in their hand just munching away. It’s amazing. I don’t understand how everyone is so fit.
5. Some showers don’t have shower heads. It’s like an arm workout and shower all at the same time!!!
6. Getting street harassed by men and not thinking twice about it – in France right now there is a lot of street harassment at night. Men are constantly slowing their cars down and yelling things at you. I’ve had one spit on me, one tell me he was going to bring me back to a hotel and fuck me, and another one literally jump out of his car to approach me. You can ignore – and they will get mad at your for not answering, you can reply – and it will just edge them on more, you can give them the finger and keep walking – and well, in my experience that’s when the guy got out of the car and ran angrily towards me.
7. Drinking a bottle of wine on a Tuesday night is common – this doesn’t mean you are an alcoholic, it means you are French. Not to mention a good bottle only costs 4 euros.
8. Taking a weekend trip to Barcelona, Amsterdam, Rome, Stockholm, Zurich, etc. can be done for very little money. One hour and you’re in a new country. France is in the perfect position in Europe for this, it’s right in the middle and has excellent trains and flights coming in and out of the country with prices that us students can afford.
9. Beers are in the same aisle as coke and pepsi! Can I hear an A-MEN? So convenient. High five France!
10. Going to read a book on a bench by a fountain. People are so poetic here. When it’s beautiful and sunny out I’ll see numerous people sitting by a fountain or by the river just enjoying the day with a good book.
11. They don’t use backpacks for school – handbags only ladies!
12. For your keys to look like this. This is probably just because I lived in a super old building – but I had old school keys and I loved it.
13. To take smoke breaks during your class with your professor and classmates. I had one class that was 1h 45 minutes long, and after 45 minutes we would take a ten minute smoke break.
14. Almost everything at the grocery store is made locally or within the country. If it’s not the season for the fruit, then you will not find it. There are no strawberries or watermelons in winter (as it should be). The food isn’t processed or organically modified. It’s fresh and real and it’s not expensive like it would be in Canada if you were buying organic or fresh food. Also, peanut butter is in the international aisle. It’s a sad sad day when you can only buy those little mini peanut butters that you could literally eat in one night.
15. Accordion players in the metro.. no joke. I have seen this many times, and each time it’s like my vision of what I thought France would be like comes true.