1. Have the courage to ask for helpSeriously, people will help each other if you're lost. I can't even count the amount of times I was lost all by myself or with my Swedish friends. I wouldn't have made it home without talking to gazillions of other EF students and asking strangers to show directions to different places.Yes, I had a map but I didn't know where my home was. Neither did I know where our bus stop was. Nor the school. Basically I was lost pretty much all the time... Oh well.
Once we had to ask a woman at 1:30 am the way back home. My roommate and I had walked for almost two hours already and were exhausted. We were glad how clearly this woman explained the route to us and was really friendly, even in the middle of the night. She wished us good luck and made sure we understood her directions in French. We really do owe her.
2. Don't be afraid to talk in another languageBoy, how lost I would've been if I hadn't had spoken French in my host family. I don't know how much my host mama would've understood English because we didn't speak it at all. And I'm extremely happy about that. It is good to have an easy conversation in another language, keeping it simple is the key. I was happy, that I understood almost everything my host mama said and she understood me. Well, at least after some minutes of thinking what to reply to her...
It's important to keep in mind, that foreigners don't usually expect you to speak their language perfectly. You never learn if you don't try. I think I made more than enough of mistakes but it doesn't matter. I realized that when I was in a hurry or had to explain something very important, I spoke French much better. Maybe it was because I wasn't really thinking what I was saying. The words just came to my mouth and I hoped that I'd be understood, haha.
3. Live the local mannersNow this means respecting but also imbibing the culture as much as you can. Even if it involves eating white bread and crisps every single day. I just noticed I've never loved rye bread as much as I do now! Also the bathrooms and kitchens were slightly different in France. I found it weird, that I actually couldn't wash my hands in the toilet. You get used to it, though.
Maybe watching the television, listening to the radio or going to the movies can offer a new side of the country. I went to see Man of Steel, of course dubbed in French and ended up sleeping half of the time...I guess I'm not that much into action movies then!Watching Money Drop in the host family almost became a tradition. It was always on from 7pm, which was when we had dinner time. I learned some new words from that show, because it was so easy to follow. Thank you Money Drop French edition!
4. Take care of yourselfFor real, I can't even imagine what could have happened if I hadn't called my roommates constantly. We were always calling to each other about what bus we are taking. Also all the meetings in the cities were only told to us by word of mouth. It was up to us whether we remembered them or not. I was probably one of them who remembered the place and the time, but didn't know how to get there.
5. Prepare yourself for surprises!
That's to say if you travel with EF. You never knew what you were going to do in the evening or afternoon. Some activities were cancelled or sometimes they changed places. It was annoying, but there was really nothing you could do about it. Once I had to go home in the middle of the school day to change clothes and get my bikini. We were going to a beach called Roches Rouges, which was a bit far away. Anyway, if things are not going the way you want, you shouldn't complain. Staying positive all the time is important. Especially if you're on a holiday, it's meant to be fun!
+1 Remember to use sunscreen!"I never burn myself" yeah right, that's what I thought also. After I had burned my chest I decided to use a lotion with SPF 10. It actually worked. I didn't burn anymore but I still got a good tan!