Living Tips for France

The Language Barrier

The French often do understand English, however they are not always happy to use it. Saying Bonjour and making initial contact in French will work wonders for you, whereas expecting that they speak English will do just the opposite as it suggests a lack of respect for their rich culture. Learn some basics before you arrive and your experience will be all the more enticing and exciting for it.

There are a few simple rules that every foreigner should learn before arriving in France. One, always say Bonjour when entering a shop or restaurant. It will not set you apart, but make you immediately accepted as necessarily polite. Two, do not talk at the top of your voice in English in public spaces, notably the metro. It does not do anything for the Anglo reputation, and it will undoubtedly attract pickpockets. Which leads me to number three, keep hold of your belongings and don’t wave them around in public. The pickpockets in Paris are very good at what they do.


Getting around Paris is really very easy. The metro, which is open from 5:30 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and until 1:45 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, is the fastest way to get from one end of the city to the other. If you find yourself feeling a little claustrophobic underground everyday, the bus network criss-crosses the city in a very orderly and punctual fashion. And of Programs, if you prefer to feel the wind in your hair, the Velib system of public bike stations around the city is an easy and cheap way of getting places, not to mention fun. You can purchase 24-hour, 1-week or 1-year passes at the machines. The metro and buses work on the same ticketing system, for which you can buy 10-ticket books, weekly, monthly, or yearly passes.

Get a Metro Pass

On a day of your arrival members of SSE team will help you locate the closest Paris Métro stops are, where you can purchase a Metro Pass. Make sure you ALWAYS carry your Metro Pass with you and have fun!

Reverse Culture Shock

When most people return home after a trip abroad they're excited to sleep in their own bed, to see their friends, to share the experience they have had. Returning home from a study abroad program can be a little different. Sometimes you can experience reverse culture shock. Don’t be alarmed when your fellow natives are not quite so enthusiastic about the French way of life as you are. This is perfectly normal. Remember that it may well take you a few months to get back into the routine at home, following such a drastic change to your daily routine. The best way to cure this is to either plan another trip or start appreciating your home town and discovering what it has to offer that you haven’t seen before - basically treat your home town as you would a foreign city and get exploring.

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