Facing culture shock is very normal in a new city. You can simply google and look up tours and top things to do in a city. The best way to get insights into the culture and about the general way of life is from someone who has visited before or is a local to the area.
In my blogs, I will not only tell you of touristy things to do but I will also share my personal experience on Parisian lifestyle.
It’s easy to get around
There is more than one way to get around!
This city is very bicycle friendly. (This is what we call a bike in America). It is extremely safe, easy and quick way to get around. There is a popular bicycle sharing system called Velib (which literally translates to bike freedom). You can find docks almost everywhere. When you are getting a bicycle in person at the dock, Velib keeps a hold of 150 Euros your account until you have returned the bicycle safely. There is an initial subscription cost, thereafter every 30 minutes is FREE! Online, you can buy one day pass for 1.70 Euros or 7 day pass for 8 Euros.
Uber also introduced a new service called JUMP. These bicycles are red in color and they don’t need to be put back in a dock. It can be left on the side and you only have to scan in and out on an app! (I didn’t use this service, it’s pretty similar to Velib service though)
Pro Tip: It’s best if you download the rental apps. It tells you where the docks are, how many bicycles and parking space are available!
Another fun way to get around is by Scooters. Just as in Washington DC in United States, Paris has a scooter culture. It’s safe as there are designated lanes on the road. You can find Lime and Bird scooters on every nook and corner!
One time I was walking home by myself past 10.30pm. I felt afraid. My phone was at 2% battery. I immediately grabbed a scooter, scanned in quickly and swooshed my way home! By walk, home was still 12 minutes away. On the scooter, I got home in less than 5 minutes! I didn’t have to worry about parking it either. I left it right outside my building and was home Safe and Sound! 🙂
Also, if you care about the going green, bicycle and scooter is the way to get around!
Metropolitan (Parisian version of Subway)
Metro is very popular and easy. A single ride is priced at 1.90 Euros and a bunch of 10 tickets cost around 14 Euros. You can opt for the monthly pass. I didn’t. I preferred getting 10 tickets at a time.
The metro system is not complicated at all! There aren’t many connections. You’ll find one train going only in one direction. A couple of rides and you’ll be a pro at it.
Pro Tip: Sometimes when the train stops, the doors don’t open automatically. You have to pull the latch up to open to get in or leave the train. I missed a stop one time as I didn’t know this. Also, if you don’t feel safe to walk alone at night, take the metro or bus. There are so many people using it during the time.
Tipping culture varies from place to place. As Americans, we are used to tipping our taxi driver, server at a restaurant or stylist but here in Paris, this is not mandatory and not excepted.
My roommate was in a situation in which a server was rather offended when she decided to tip him.
Pro Tip: If you feel overly satisfied with the service, you can try and round up to the next whole number. Sometimes a service charge may already be added to your existing bill. Even if it’s not, don’t feel obligated to tip!
Pick-pocketing is real
Paris is a big city with many tourists. Of course, you should be careful of your belongings everywhere you go but as a student in an entirely new setting, be more cautious about your surroundings.
I bought some cheese at Franpix supermarket. I left it on the counter beside me. I turned around for just a few seconds to chat with my roommates and you won’t believe it, my cheese was GONE! We had a great laugh about it but hey, pick-pocketing is real!
Pro Tip: Close your bags at all times. Girls, I suggest carrying a cross body bag. Boys, do not keep your wallet in your back pocket. Grab your book bag in front of you when you are on the metro.