Before moving to study abroad in France, I did a lot of research into what day-to-day life was like and how things differed from places I’d lived before. When I arrived onsite there were things I’d anticipated loving about Paris, but there were also things I had no way to anticipate loving.
1. History (expected)
I knew I’d love the history of Paris before I got there. I’ve always loved historical museums and monuments and reading historical books. In the U.S., we don’t always realize how brief the history we have access to is. There’s nothing like walking to class and passing cathedrals constructed in the 13th century to make you fall in love with Paris as a historical city.
2. Commuting on Public Transportation (unexpected)
While I’ve taken the occasional bus or train in the U.S., I’ve never relied on anything but a car for transportation. I anticipated missing driving; I did not anticipate falling in love with the metro. It is so convenient, and I love the time it allows to read or just sit and think.
3. Bread (expected)
I knew the bread there was going to surpass my wildest dreams, and boy has it. Not only is it delicious, it’s everywhere. On my way home from my metro stop, I passed no less than four bakeries that stock dozens of breads and pastries every day that I could easily pop in and pick up on my way home. The bread is truly amazing, and there’s nothing like bringing home a still-warm-from-the-oven tradi or baguette traditional at the end of a long day.
4. Specific Groceries (unexpected)
You don’t know what you don’t know, and I had no way of knowing that things like pear ice cream or massive Babybel cheese (just like the little ones but about four inches in diameter) were going to become groceries staples while I lived abroad. Also, French tofu…comes pre-pressed! You have no idea how much time and energy I’ve saved being able to just open a package of tofu and cook it right then and there.
5. Museums (expected)
I have always loved spending a day in a museum, and Paris has a plethora of different museums to visit. From art to history to technology, there’s a museum in Paris for you. I went to as many as I could, and I still didn't see half of them before my semester was over.
6. Student Discounts (unexpected)
I read blogs and articles which mentioned that there were student discounts at a lot of places in Paris, but what I didn’t realize is that access to most museums and monuments for any resident that is 18 to 26 years old are free. I have spent so little money on the leisure activities that are taking most of my time because most of the places I want to visit are free to me with my student visa!
Emily Counts is the Spring 2022 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Nebraska Wesleyan University.