HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT
What sorts of cultural differences will you face on arrival in France? It’s a recurrent question each year as new students take the big step for the first time. We asked a few experts to give readers their insights.
John J. Janc, creator of the Minnesota State University Summer Study Program in France:
- If it’s your first experience in a big city, be sure to learn things like how to behave on the subway, how to dress appropriately in a big city, how to be careful when crossing the street.
- If you’re living with a French family, don’t forget to close doors and shutters, conserve on water and electricity, and observe customs and rituals surrounding meals.
Margaret Sinclair, Northwestern University’s Director of Undergraduate French Studies:
- If you are in Paris, you have to realize that people don’t smile all the time the way many Americans do. That doesn’t mean they’re miserable or mean.
Audrey Queyreyre and John Chrisman, authors of Study Paris:
- Mealtime in France presents a variety of cultural differences for foreign students: simple (but sweet) breakfasts, the occasional three-course lunch with a bit of wine, large dinners celebrating nothing more than the meal itself.
- Strikes! Americans have baseball, the French have strikes—labor stoppages that take the “walk” to a new level.
- Smoking taxes, antismoking laws and graphic antismoking campaigns haven’t snuffed out the country’s love of la cigarette.
- Muscle cars like the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger may be making a comeback stateside, but with gas prices over $6.80 a gallon the French prefer the more economical (and smaller) Smart Car and Peugeot 206.