Parisian Things I was Unaware of Before Working Abroad
French pigeons came to slay, says International Business with French undergraduate, Francesca Morelli
Everyone wheels one of these
Doesn’t matter if you’re a woman of 70 or a man of 25, you have one. Why? I’m not sure. Do they get in the way? Yes. Will I ever buy one? No.
The pigeons are super sassy
The pigeons are more confident than the people. They have no fear. If you kicked one it would kick you back, not that I’ve ever tested this theory, but on particularly grumpy mornings, I’ve been tempted.
People say 'Bon Appétit'. A lot.
They say ‘Bon Appétit’ literally every time you eat. Whether you’re munching on a biscuit or sitting down to a full meal. If I have to say 'Merci!' with my mouth full of food one more time I’m going to lose the plot.
Baguette-eating is not just a stereotype...
People literally do walk down the street with five baguettes sticking out of their handbags.
...But public-eating is a no-go
You never see people eating in public here. You won’t ever see anyone munching on the metro or quickly getting breakfast on the morning train. I feel like we do that quite often at home, but if you’re seen to be having a sneaky snack here, people look at you.
French people dress extremely well
Again, another Parisian stereotype that I didn’t fully appreciate until I got here. I didn’t think it would literally apply to the entire Parisian population, but it actually does. EVERYONE dresses SO well! I can’t remember the last time I spotted a pair of trackies (at least on someone who wasn’t going to the gym). Considering leggings and a hoodie is my chosen Belfast attire, this was a considerable lifestyle change for me.
Greetings are more formal than in Belfast
Northern Irish people are famous for being really familiar and generally casual with one another. We talk to each other in a friendly way, and although polite, generally very informal. French people are entirely different in their approach. They appear extremely polite and have a very formal manner in their tone, approach, and conversation style.
There is a hidden Paris
Photo: John Towner/Unsplash
So you’ve seen the small buildings, the tiny doors, the narrow streets. But what you haven’t seen is the momentous buildings that lie behind those doors and within those narrow streets. You could see a little doorway on a backstreet in the middle of nowhere and walk right past it, completely unaware that this little doorway could hide the biggest and best shopping mall in Paris. It’s just like that. Places appear tiny when in reality they’re huge. This is why great places here are easily missed, and you have to rely on friends’ recommendations and the odd peak on TripAdvisor...
You will go days without seeing any water
So I am a rower from Portstewart. I live beside the sea and I train on a river every single day. I travel underneath the Seine 4 times a day to and from work, but I never, ever see it. I don’t live or work near it, and so I never see water. This may sound strange to some of you city dwellers, but with my N.I. lifestyle I find going days without seeing a river or the sea completely bizarre. And I miss it! So much. I’m not even sure why, I just do!
So maybe if you ever move to Paris, you’ll have a giggle when you experience some of these things and realise I wasn’t talking total rubbish. They are random, yes, but everyone notices their own unique little things, don’t they?
BSc International Business with French | 3rd Year | Northern Ireland
I am 21 years old currently working in a startup in the centre of Paris from August '17 to June '18 for my year abroad. I have been a competitive rower for 7 years, and I am currently a member of Queens University Belfast Ladies Boat Club. I come from an Italian family, and so I have grown up with a love for Europe and European languages. I’d like to write about my year abroad for what it really is, and hopefully help someone who is planning to move here next year; no sugarcoating allowed!