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12 Things You Were Not Prepared For Before Studying In France

oh mon dieu...

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1. Le Paperwork


So you want a Carte Vitale, eh? Please fill out these 863 forms, then submit your passport, proof of residence, bank statements, work contract, medical records, gran's scone recipe and a list of your favourite 90s boybands and kindly wait 2 months to receive multiple letters telling you to submit your documents again. Don't worry though, you'll get it about a week before you leave at the end of the year.

3. You Can No Longer Wear Heels. Ever.


The first time you go to a club in France you’ll look like a prostitute. That is fact. You’ll rock up in your 6-inch heels and body-con, looking fierce as Queen B. You’ll have a quick look around the club. You’ll see all the other girls in….jeans. Wait. Is this definitely a club? Is that girl wearing what she wore to the office today? Yes. No one makes any effort at all to go to a club. Even the slutty girls are looking down at your short skirt.

4. French Guys Move Faster Than A Knife Fight In A Phone Booth


Seriously, you go on one date with a guy and you're going out. Three dates and you're probably living together and he's told you he loves you. If, after 3 months together, you don't have a holiday home in Cannes and a set of twins called Manon and Thibault....he's just not that into you.

5. Le Customer Service


"Hey, lost foreigner, you look like you might need help in this business I work in, how about I help you out?" said no French sales assistant ever. They are more likely to give you a look that says "I will shit in your coffee if you even ask me where the sugar is".

6. Sundays Are The Day of....Nothing


Oh, so it’s 9pm on a Saturday and you’ve just realised you have no food for the next day. You are not eating tomorrow. You also can’t do anything since shops, cinemas, most bars and restaurants are all shut. Boo.

7. People Know Their Wine


OK. France. Wine. Shock. But the day will come when you’re asked what wine you want to buy and you’ll start calculating strength of alcohol vs price, then blindly choosing one with a pretty label. Meanwhile the 16-year-old next to you in the supermarket will be extolling the virtues of a fine St Emilion to his mum.

9. People Make Real Food


Remember that time, back in the UK, when you were watching the football with the lads and someone got up at half time to honey-roast the vegetables to go with the braised lamb you were having after the game? No. Of course you don’t. That person would be mocked so much that they would never show their face again. In France, however, it’s totally normal for the laddiest of boys to get together and discuss tips for the best vinagrette.

10. Guys In The Street Are Not Your Friends


When you imagine French men, you probably think he’s going to lay you naked on the banks of the Seine, so he can paint your indescribable beauty, before whisking you off to the foot of the Eiffel Tower to recite the poetry he’s written about you. The guys who walk past you in the street, however, are a different kind of romantic. They’ll click their fingers at you like a dog, make kissing noises and shout across the street to ask you to perform sexual favours. Swoon!

11. You Can No Longer Afford To Drink In Clubs


Sweet vodka-and-lemonade, why have you betrayed me? A £1 drink in your student union is looking like 10 euros worth of disappointment. Pre-gaming is your new best friend. She’ll never leave you.

12. You Are A Shoplifter Until Proven Innocent


While in the UK, we would probably get sued for even implying someone was a shoplifter without having seen them shove a packet of Jammie Dodgers down their pants, in France it’s fair game. Expect to have your handbag cable-tied when you enter a shop and maybe even have a friendly security guard sprint after you and grab you when you leave the shop to tell you to empty your bag. Nothing says “come back soon, valued customer!” like making you think you’re getting mugged.

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