Going to Europe is an experience that almost every American student dreams of. It can be an adventure full of learning, laughing, and making memories. For some of us, a few of those memories can come from the bars, considering the legal drinking age is 18 over here. If the European bar scene is on your bucket list, here's everything you need to know about surviving and thriving in French bars. 

1. Take a nap

The French do things a little differently, so it's no surprise that the bar scene isn't identical to the U.S. In America, students might be used to getting the night started around 8 or 9 pm. In France, however, the excitement doesn't really start until around midnight or even 1 am. That being said, get ready for your long evening by taking a mid-day nap. 

2. All black everything

One of the first pieces of advice I was given to prepare for a semester abroad was to pack black. This advice has certainly been a lifesaver. One way to fit in with the French bar crowd is to wear black or neutral colors and nothing too alarmingly flashy. You'll definitely fit in while leaving others with the impression that you're the next big fashion guru. 

3. Bring a friend

Go best friend, that's my best friend. It is extremely important to have a trusted friend with you when you go out. Make sure you both have phones or a way to contact each other if anything were to happen. If anything, bringing a friend will ensure your safety and make the walk home a little less lonely. But who wants to go to the bars alone anyway?

4. No need to tip the bartender

tea, wine, beer
Ben Jones

Music to a poor college student's ears. In France, tips are actually pre-calculated into the total of your bill, so you never have to leave a tip. Just for the sake of all the American bartenders out there, let's not bring this habit back to the States. Check out this go-to guide for tipping -- whatever country you may be in!

5. Avoid eye contact

Another difference in France is the dating culture, and French guys are quite aggressive and forward when it comes to flirting. At a French bar, eye contact with a stranger could mean a deep interest in the person and French guys are quick to pick up on that hint. Zero to one hundred REAL QUICK. Of course it's great to make new friends, but make sure your intentions (whatever they may be) are clear and upfront. 

6. Less is more

cider, juice, lager, wine, ice, liquor, alcohol, beer
Alex Frank

Americans tend to think that the French are raging alcoholics. On the contrary, they tend to be very responsible drinkers. With a lower drinking age and a higher respect for alcohol consumption, they have less of a binge drinking culture. It's normal to have a glass of wine with dinner and then to have a few beers at the bar. Taking shots, however, is seen as very American

7. Try to not be so American

Honestly, the best way to survive and thrive in French bars is to adopt a French mind set. Try to avoid traveling in huge, noisy groups,  and be respectful to those around you. You'll come to notice that the obnoxious ones in a bar are usually American, which can be overwhelming to a French bystander. Slapping the bag and shotgunning beers will just have to wait until you're back at college.

Now, you're sure to be an expert on the French bar scene. Always remember to drink in moderation, stay with your friends, and be safe! Hopefully you'll be one of the lucky ones who returns to the states and is still old enough to legally drink.