The first thing to note, whilst it seems obvious, is that Paris is one of the world’s major cities. This means it can be intimidating when you first arrive, especially if you are from the countryside. As with most big cities, the population here can seem quite preoccupied and at times a little unhelpful. Once you begin building relationships with people, you will notice they become much more open and warm. Fortunately, coming to GOBELINS, l’école de l’image, means that you will immediately have people to talk to and indeed help you settle into ‘La Vie Parisienne’.
‘VOUS’ AND ‘TU’
One thing that is worth knowing is the correct use of ‘vous’ and ‘tu.’ Both meaning ‘you,’ they must be used correctly to avoid insulting somebody. To make it simple, using ‘vous’ to address somebody is never seen as offensive (at most it is a little strange) so use ‘vous’ if you are ever unsure.
Tu is used for people, including strangers, your own age (such as your classmates and friends) or younger than you.
Vous is used for those older than you (such as your teachers) and for addressing more than one person. It is also used when talking to attendants in shops and waiter in restaurants. Do not simply assume that because somebody is no longer a stranger that you are invited to use the more familiar ‘tu,’ you must wait until you are told that you can ‘tutoyer’ them. Sometimes (with teachers for example) this may never happen and you will always use vous. Using vous with someone the same age as you or younger when you meet them may sound a little strange to them and they will tell you that you can use tu.
Something you will realise soon after arriving in Paris is the amount of paperwork involved in any contractual agreement. The first time you will be likely to encounter this is when trying to open a bank account. You may also face this when trying to applying for financial aid such as the housing benefit ALS.
If you had heard anything before you came to Paris, it is probably that it is very pretty and very expensive. Both are true. Be prepared to spend around €1000 per month. At GOBELINS there is a canteen which offers a three course meal at lunch for around €3; this is possibly the best value you will find in Paris so make the most of it!
The Parisians dress well. It is unlikely that you will see people walking around the centre of town in yoga pants. When going out at night, it is important to note that women dress more reservedly, short shirts and hot pants will not be received well here and you will find yourself attracting the wrong attention.