Things I learned studying abroad in Paris

About a million years ago, I spent one wonderful, awful, bonkers semester studying in the City of Light.
  1. It's cold and wet there- a lot.
    Invest in water-repellant walking shoes! I spent the evenings with my feet propped up on the radiator, trying to dry my socks and de-raisin my toes.
  2. If the entire train full of passengers gets off at a stop, you should follow them.
    I didn't, and the train pulled into a tunnel and hibernated- all the lights turned off and I was alone in the dark. When workers finally discovered my presence, they had to back the whole train out of the tunnel! It was so embarrassing to disembark in front of a bunch of smug strangers.
  3. If people are standing in a long line, you should join them.
    They know something you don't! That's how we found a secret sandwich shop in an alley that we ended up going to 4 times a week for lunch.
  4. Culture shock is real.
    I read about it before I went, but was surprised to find myself experiencing every stage- highs and lows and highs again. People are pretty universally the same, but sometimes the foreignness of the situation smacked me in the face.
  5. Escargot is delicious.
    Try it!
  6. Not all French people can cook
    My hostess was pretty bad at it. She made me an iceberg lettuce casserole and I always found blue fur balls in my food from her angora sweater.
  7. Some of the best food there is from other countries.
    I had incredible Spanish tapas, Greek gyros (the best ones have fries on top), and Indian everything.
  8. There is such a thing as a horse burger
    Seeing this on the menu the same day as being stuck in a tunnel and losing a wad of cash sent me over the edge. "Is this a burger made of actual horse or a burger 'in the style of a horse'?" I asked my friend right before I lost it and had a meltdown in the middle of a nice, crowded restaurant.
  9. Strangers can be so kind
    In the middle of said meltdown, two French ladies came up and gave me hugs.
  10. Strangers can be so mean
    I also had a strange man squeeze my thigh in a dark movie theater and high school kids in the Parisian suburbs pulled my hair.
  11. History is fantastic
    There is something magical about being in a place steeped in so much history. Every day feels like it could be the beginning of an adventure.
  12. The best friendships are forged in strange situations
    I made lifelong friendships- we fell in love with France together, missed home together, got lost together, and found ourselves together.