How To Be A Parisian: Housing Edition

Gwen Lee
February 16, 2016

Bonjour again!

Continue to learn more tips on being a Parisian!

Part II. Homestays or living in France altogether, are like nerve-wracking sleepovers at first.

8. When I got to the front doors of my new home, I pressed the button with my host family’s name, on the side of the doors, and heard my host mom welcoming me in. I spent much too long pulling the doors by the door knob before Marvin, my friend who shared a taxi with me to my homestay, from inside the taxi yell "Push!" The door knobs really threw me off.

This is Hellena Van in front of my homestay because she thought the doors looked nice. Does that door handle not give the door a "pull me" vibe? I was super confused by this.

This issue followed with many doors to come. I have learned that when in doubt, remember to try both pushing and pulling. Often times, when the door has a door knob, contrary to their usual purpose, you should push the door open and enter, and pull the knob to close the door when you leave. Also, "poussez" means push, they sound pretty similar, and "tirez" means pull.

9. I quote the director of our program Nathalie Lenfant when she expressed all of our frustrations when trying to unlock our homestay/apartment/chambre de bonne doors when I say, "I know how doors work. I know what a lock looks like. I know what a key does. Then why isn't this working?!!!" Conclusion: French doors are old, get used to it and practice locking and unlocking the doors you use often. Some locks require keys to be inserted halfway. One of my locks require a final click that takes the strength of Hercules, both my arms and a bit of leaning weight, to attain. Some locks work easily but the doors can get stuck. Getting in and out of places is a real struggle here. If you ever get locked in or out, don't worry, someone will find you eventually.

10. Bath tubs here usually don't have shower curtains. Mine has a glass door that's only two feet long and doesn't block most of the water from spraying all over the bathroom. Be careful not to flood your bathroom. Our housing manager recommends that if it's really impossible to contain the spray radius, you can always squat down to take a shower, it's normal.

11. This sounds self-explanatory, but ask before using/taking/touching. Host families are there to help you, not hurt you. I was given a bunch of rules and norms when I got there but I also learned a lot as time passed. When I needed to wash my clothes, I was given a speech on how to use the machines properly. When I cooked my first meal, I was told how to deal with my dirty dishes. Whenever I need help, my host mom is there to answer all my questions and lend a helping hand. And every time I thanked her, she replied with, “It’s normal.” Host families are amazing because they really do want to help you assimilate to living in Paris. I learned more from watching them be than I did in all my classes.

Living in Paris isn’t as different as living in any other city. I highly recommend a homestay if you are applying for housing.

Till next time with more tips on being Parisian.

Bonne journée,


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Gwen Lee

<p>Salut! Je m&#39;appelle Gwen. I am a sophomore at Babson College and currently about 11% fluent in French. I hope to remedy that while wining and dining in the beautiful city of Paris. I am majoring in Business with a focus in Marketing. Follow along my stories to experience the ups and downs of studying abroad à Paris!</p>

2016 Spring
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Babson College
Business Administration
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