a pretty list…but ifImay comment (American expat from the West Coast living in Avignon/Marseille last3years): -coffee like what you’ve pictured above is best had in the North of Europe or in North America. In France it is all about mini espresso drinks and sometimes cafÃ© au lait for breakfast. none of this lattÃ© foamed stuff unless you go to S-bux in Paris. and no matter how against S-bux you are, afterayear in Paris you will start going there… -on Sundays! because nothing else is open and gosh darn it, sometimes on Sunday you want to eat or drink something outside of your house. -the food is pretty awesome,Iadmit. and healthy (no hormones in the meat thanks to EU rules). but you really have to have access toakitchen to take the most advantage of it (or get invited to locals’ houses for dinner) or you’ll spend your whole food budget inaweek eating out. also, it is just as easy (if not easier) to haveahorrible over-priced eating experience as it is to haveagood one. many restaurants are happy to charge 13 euros for small, mediocre portions. -everyone does look good. why? because you are judged on your appearance. apparently your education, your voting tendencies, your field of studies in college, your level of education, earnings, etc can be judged from how you dress. so people treat you accordingly. so yes, no people in pyjamas. meaning, you have less (and not more) freedom to dress as you wish. since style is rather codified and you will be singled out for radical fashions. -and ladies…be prepared for being judged on your appearance and charm first, and then all the other good stuff like sense of humor, intelligence, etc. I’ve found this to beaculture that is still rather patriarchical. -travel is pretty awesome and there are many cheap ways to get around and the tourism industry and infrastructure is very well developed. -being without money is not as much ofashame/it is notaconsumer show-off culture. so, consuming less, and being more about experiences rather than things isalot more accepted than in the US. -culture is subsidized. so you’ll have access to all kinds of interesting, avant-garde, sometimes crazy and UN-SALEABLE culture wherever you go—because it is supported by the state -parties are BORING. yes clubs close at 4am…but what do you do if you go alone and no one will break out of their groups and talk to you? plus the biggest attraction inalot of places is touring groups from…you guessed it…THE STATES and other foreign countries. -vacation time/time off/hours per week is cool—assuming you getajob. in some places, unemployment of young people is 20-40%. people with Masters degrees often have to settle on minimum wage jobs. roughly 10-20% of people with PhD get academic job. -speaking of Education, the national universities are almost free andagreat deal. Education is open and universally available (no GRE test to get into grad school). But there is very little guidance and you have to be extremely self-motivated to figure out the systems, the expectations, the writing style, etc. and students are very individualistic and it can be quite hard to find community while at Uni. -independent bookstores are everywhere and AWESOME. thanks to the French cultural policy and the “fixed book price”, giants like Amazon haven’t been able to corner out the little book seller who changes his store front every week. -speaking of which there isagreat connection with local merchants, farmers, and artisans. meaning you can really developataste for local produce, cheese, wine, vinegar, rice, jam, fruits, you name it… -yes deadlines are fluid. because very little (at least in the public realm) works according to schedule. so everyone adjusts accordingly. -when you go to offices to talk to people you get used to hearing “No” as the first reply. telephone customer service is pay-per-minute. and you can’t “speak to the manager” or claim defective goods (unless you’re inahuge chain store). So in short: come to France foraweek,amonth, or evenayear. and then go home…because otherwise you risk becoming burned out, like me (and yes I’m going home in two months having finishedadegree here).
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