- Buying Plane Tickets: Believe it or not, buying a plane ticket online can be harder than you think, especially when it is in another language. When booking plane tickets to Naples, I had to try and use my rusty German in order to make sure we got 2 plane tickets to the right location on the right day. I’m still hoping that I did this correctly…I guess I will find out in a few weeks.
- Ordering Water: Tap Water. This might be what I miss most about America. When you are at a European restaurant, if you ask for water they automatically bring you a fancy small glass bottle of water that costs more than a glass of wine. When you are parched from roaming the city all day you just want a tall, cold, refreshing vat of water, but sometimes they don’t always understand the translation of “the free tap water please.”
- Directions: When walking around Metz, France during my first week at GTL, a group of us were trying to find the bus stop to get back to our dorms. Not many locals know English though, so we just ended up walking around the city for about 45 minutes in the rain until a nice man took pity on us and walked us to the bus stop we were trying to get to.
- Reading Menus: French food is delicious. There are crepes, escargot, coq au vin, and of course my favorite – pastries. While pointing at a menu and just hoping for the best can sometimes be a good option, it is always an unfortunate feeling when you look over at your friend’s dish and see some mouthwatering dessert like a stuffed, chocolate and banana crepe with caramel ice-cream and dusted almonds and then glance back at your boring croissant.
- Trains: America is known for not having good public transportation. We drive everywhere and rarely use a bus or train to get from place to place. In France, everyone uses the train, but it is not as easy as it looks. Sometimes you could be waiting on the track for your train that is arriving in 10 minutes and then next thing you know everyone starts dashing halfway across the train station. Let’s just say we learned later on that European trains tend to switch tracks at the very last second, but it would have been nice to have known that a little earlier on.
Sometimes knowing a little French goes a long way.