One of the things that I knew would change the most when I came to France was the partying. The reason I knew it would change a lot is because the drinking age is 18 and the culture is so different. Though it is pretty cool, since I’ve been here I noticed there are tons of ups and downs about it.
First of all, one of the coolest things is that we get to go to bars and clubs! Most of the time they don’t even check my ID and I can just order alcohol! It’s really cool. Most nights start with drinking at someone’s house, then getting a couple drinks at a bar and then around midnight (when you’re at the peak of your buzz) you go to a club and dance until about 5 am. Those nights are the best kind of nights. If you can motivate all of your friends to go out and you manage to go to all three places your night usually turns out pretty great. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel) nights out are super long. They usually last around 8 or 9 hours. Sometimes, the lengthy duration of a french night out can be the best because you’re having so much fun that you never want it to end. But others (you know the nights that your friend’s kind of pressure you to go out even though you really didn’t want to) can feel like they’re never going to end. It depends on who you are and what kind of mood your in whether you’ll enjoy being out all night or not. I will definitely miss going out bars and clubs when I head back home.
On the other hand, there are plenty of apartment parties. Apartment parties, in my opinion, are the WORST. The issue that I’ve encountered with apartment parties is that most of my friends are first year students who have tiny apartments and therefore cannot invite many people. You don’t really get in the party vibe if there are less than 10 people there. And also, you can’t really bump music because all the neighbors get really pissy. In the end, if there aren’t many people and the music is turned down low does that really count as a party? These kinds of gatherings were also really tough for me during the first couple of months because not only was I not close with many people, but also I couldn’t really mingle because my French was pretty terrible. Usually when I get a couple drinks in me the French comes more easily but I still got pretty bad social anxiety. Especially when everyone (all 10 of them) at the party were listening to what I was saying. I knew I was bound to make a mistake. Granted, I’m not going to just bad mouth apartment parties. I have been to a couple fun ones. It’s just that if I were to choose between going out or going to an apartment, I’d definitely choose going out.
Second of all, the party always starts super late. In high school, I remember getting ready to a party at like 7:30 pm and then making my appearance at around 8 or 8:30 pm because that was a normal time to start partying back home. Well when I came here, I tried to get my friends to go out at 8 pm and everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Everyone starts eating dinner here around 8:30 or 9 pm. So, unless you’re going out early to get a good deal on drinks during happy hour (yes, it’s still called happy hour in French) before dinner, then it’s strange if you’re out before 10 pm. This part of the whole partying culture for me was not the greatest considering that I usually fall asleep around 10 pm. It made it hard for me to stay motivated to out… Truth be told, this issue has rarely stopped me from going out though. I mean I have really bad FOMO (fear of missing out), so I’m not about to fall asleep while all my friends go out and could have what might be the best night of their lives. I usually just watch Friends or try on a variety of outfits until it’s time to go so that I don’t fall asleep.
Lastly, whatever booze you bring will disappear by the end of the night. I don’t know if you guys can relate but, in the U.S., whenever my friends and I would go to a party, we would fill water bottles full of vodka (or other liquor) and take those with us as our own personal booze. There are two main reasons for doing that. The first is that drinking under 21 is illegal in the U.S. (if you didn’t know) and since vodka looks like water it was easy to hide in a water bottle. And second of all, it was cheaper in the end to bring whatever alcohol you were going to drink to have your own supply instead of relying on others. This is not the case in France. When there is a party, you are pretty much expected to bring a bottle of wine, hard liquor or a pack of beers to share with everyone. I learned that if you bring it in a water bottle people will think you are strange and/or cheap. So, in other words I shouldn’t do that. I found that there are ups and downs to this as well though. The ups being that you have a variety of alcohol choices and that there is usually enough to get everyone really drunk. The down being that sometimes you can bring something and it is finished before you even get to have any… It’s happened to me a couple of times (usually with a case of beer). It’s like, “Hey Chloe! Let me take that off of your hands.” And then boom I never see that case of beer again. Honestly, I’m not sure which I like better. Either way I’m getting to drink during a night out though, so I’m usually pretty happy.
In the end, partying is pretty different here. Those are just a couple of differences that really caught my eye (even though there are so many more). The main thing that is important in both countries though is that everyone is having a good time and being social. It’s been pretty cool partying here, but I have to say that when I see my friends Snapchat stories at frat parties I do get a bit jealous. Like I said there are ups and downs about partying in both countries. It is definitely a different culture. I’m just lucky that I get to experience both!