The tram system is fairly reliable, except when the French have one of those strikes or rallies they're so famous for. I'm not sure how often these normally occur, but I've been here less than a week and seen both. The rally was really cool to watch. It was basically a parade. Communists, socialists, human rights activists, and a marching band interrupted public transportation as they waved their banners and flaming torches through the city's center. It reminded me of the end of Beauty and the Beast when all the towns people march through the forest and storm the castle.
Beauty & the Beast - Mob Scene
Maybe that's a slight exaggeration. But I feel Disney did a pretty good job of catching the French spirit of protest.
So far I've noticed more similarities than differences, but here are a few of the "surprises" I've had so far:
1. If you're speaking to someone in French & they discover you're American, they want to practice their English on you. If you start speaking to someone in English first, they look at you like you've kicked their dog.
2. No need for a thigh master. I live on the fourth floor with no elevator, and the toilets in my building have no seats. *Note that using public toilets - even in malls or the grocery store - costs money.
3. There is no hand holding from the university. You are very much on your own.
4. French milk does not need to be refrigerated before it's opened.
5. Meals last as long as they tell you they do in French class. I went to a sweet elderly lady's house for a snack yesterday. It was a very delicious 3-course snack that lasted 2 hours.
I'm heading out soon, but will write more later.