A Girl's Survival Guide: How to Protect Yourself in Paris

I'm going to start a new series of posts directed at girls because I feel girls encounter so many problems when they're going to go study abroad from packing to dating in a new city. But the first post will be about how to protect yourself because if you're anything like me when you mention that you'll be studying in Paris people immediately bring up the movie Taken (which I haven't seen). What if I can tell you that you can go a semester or school year in Paris and have NOTHING bad happen to you? There will be no horrific, uncomfortable, or embarrassing stories to tell. Well, let me tell you that it can definitely be done but you need to be real careful and observe how French girls behave.
It's no secret that American (or Mexican girls for that matter) are a lot more friendly than French girls. We are taught to smile at people when we make eye contact in order not to make things awkward or look like a bitch, and we also have a tendency of letting our guards down in order to become friends with people really fast. In France this doesn't fly. One thing I noticed within the first hours of arriving in Paris was how no one smiles when making eye contact on the metro, and with good reason. If you smile at a man it is basically considered an open invitation for him to come up to you. You see, there is a thing called cultural differences and this is one that you should become familiar with prior to going to study abroad. French women avoid eye contact, aren't loud, and mind their own business- and that's exactly what you should do. Wear headphones on the metro, if you feel uncomfortable because of a guy, get out in the next stop and move a couple of carts down- remember you're the one in control.

The "mind your own business" thing also applies to when you're walking around in Paris- hell, it applies for everything because that's how the French are! Don't be invasive and you'll do just fine. If you're walking and you notice that a random guy starts calling mademoiselle DON'T turn around! Just ignore it. I saw a girl in my exchange program get tricked with that and after she turned around and smiled, the man just approached her and started caressing her shoulder. It was obvious that she felt really uncomfortable but she wasn't doing anything about it. Thank god, Orlando was in the same group so he forced the guy to leave, but girls don't fall for the same trap! Ignore, ignore, ignore! I would walk back home alone from my evening classes and I did go to a concert by myself once, the way I managed to not get in any trouble was walking behind couples or groups, and by ignoring everything. Be cautious, if you notice a guy following you, go inside a super market or store in order to try to lose him. And like always, stay in groups. Avoid walking by yourself if possible and if you have guy friend it would be smart to have him around when you go out. This will come in handy especially if you end up taking the Noctilien because there are some sketchy people in those buses.

Occasionally you will get a creeper trying to get your number, just like Americans are attracted to people who are from a different culture the same can be said for some French men. When such thing happens, try to ignore him. There was one instance when my friend, Beatriz, and I were taking the RER C and this guy sits down right in front of us in a very aggressive manner which made us instantly a bit uncomfortable. He started asking us if we spoke French- we ignored him. Then he asked us if we spoke English- we ignored him again. He asked us if we spoke Spanish, Italian, German, or Portuguese but it was still obvious that we were just ignoring him. He grew frustrated and just left us alone. All I can say is don't take the bait, if you ignore people you will not have any uncomfortable experiences.

I was one of the fortunate girls in my program that didn't have anything bad happen to them while studying in Paris. I was very cautious about my surroundings and when I felt even a tad uncomfortable, I made sure to do something about it. I learned to be a bit cold and not smile at everyone and you know what, it worked. Studying how French women behave and imitating them worked out very well for me and it can work well for you too.

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