Paris is very different from Pittsburgh. And although there is a lot of good associated with these differences, it is beneficial to be aware of some of the risks involved with living in the capital of France.
Stay within city limits
France takes great pride in its cities. Paris, as France’s capital, is a perfect example of the manifestations of this pride. It is extremely challenging to find an ugly part of Paris, and many people feel safe inside of the city because of its beauty and prosperity. This is because it is expensive to live in the city, and the majority of the people who work in Paris actually live in its suburbs, or “banlieues.” Some of these banlieues can be dangerous and it is best to avoid them if possible.
Keep your belongings safe
One of the most common crimes that study-abroad students experience is pickpocketing. Since I have arrived in Paris I have not been pickpocketed, but some of my friends have had their phones and wallets stolen. The best ways to avoid being pickpocketed is to avoid large crowds, keep your personal belongings in your front pockets or in a secure bag, and maintain situational awareness. In every pickpocketing story that I hear, someone looses their belongings in a crowded and touristy place while they are distracted.
Be aware of your surroundings
Paris can seem like a relatively safe city, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have large-city issues. Catcalling and verbal harassment are a sad reality of living in Paris, and I have personally been threatened by people while walking or taking the metro to school. This is not unique to Paris and I have also been threatened in Pittsburgh as well. Even more seriously, Paris has a violent history of major crimes such as terrorist attacks as well as sex trafficking rings, and it is important to remain vigilant and have good situational awareness.
Even though Paris is a large cosmopolitan city, you can avoid many of these issues while studying abroad. All in all, Paris is a city where people feel safe, and I share that sentiment because I have taken preventative measures to avoid dangerous situations.