Before I begin this post, I want to apologize for taking so long to update my page! From friends visiting, to traveling, and taking exams, it has been a hectic few weeks! But, I am devoting these next two weeks to working on this blog to give you the inside scoop on all there is to Paris. This post is about how to fit it amongst the locals:
Wherever you are in Paris - school, the metro, restaurants, the streets and of course the tourist attractions - it is pretty easy to tell who is French and who is not. For one, almost everyone here wears black or very neutral tones and they always look well put together. With their matching upscale blouses, pants, shoes, and accessories, I sometimes feel a bit out of place even when I wear a top with jeans and walking shoes to explore the city. Luckily, I have had plenty of time to adjust my wardrobe and find ways to avoid standing out too much. I have also noticed that young men like to wear colored skinny (like really skinny) jeans, pea coats, scarves, and fitted clothes more so than in the US. Woman seem to go for a very simplistic, sophisticated look; their makeup is done (sometimes they wear bold eye makeup or lipsticks) and their outfits include cute tops, jeans, dresses, or skirts with jewelry to match. I really admire the Parisian style because most people clearly take a lot of time everyday to ensure they look their best, while I wake up with just enough time to get dressed, eat, and run out the door to get to class. I'll admit that I have shown up to class in the US in athletic attire or sweats without even looking in a mirror; it's a hit or miss strategy I'll try to work on when I return to Clemson. Most Americans don't catch on to these trends until they are already here so whenever I'm at the Eiffel Tower or walking along the Champs Elysees, for example, I can spot the tourists with their college attire, sports hats/jerseys, bright outfits, and T-shirts from a mile away. My suggestion is to bring a few T-shirts you really like and tone down the rest of your wardrobe while here because it makes locals feel that you are trying to immerse yourself rather than attract attention.
Parisians are similar to New Yorkers when it comes to commuting to and from work. If you happen to be using public transportation or walking in a business area during rush hour, you will notice how everyone moves to the beat of their own drum. They are on a mission to get where they are going as quickly as possible. It may seem like they have blinders on because they are so focused on where they are going and listening to their iPods. There have been a few instances where people run straight into me, or end up trapped between the metro doors because it closes on them, etc.. It is best to avoid high traffic areas, especially metro stations, from 7-9am and 6-8pm. You'll thank me later when you witness the craziness of people packing into a metro like sardines.
I am brainstorming a post about the main cultural differences between France and the US so students who are interested in other cities can have an idea of what to expect as well. Hopefully, I will have it posted within the next few days. :)