Don't expect to keep to yourself in a cafe
The iconic French cafe evokes certain images: tiny espressos, chain smoking, and rambling, but intelligent, conversations. Whereas we get an enormous coffee and plug in to our lab tops, the French cafe is a social place. It is tiny and smoky, and sharing tables and conversations with strangers is part of the experience. You can't go to a French cafe and expect no one to talk to you. My international circle quietly discovered a cafe in the old part of Lille, looking for a place with internet access and enough table space to write our papers. But one day we noticed that everyone on the cafe's top floor was English speaking. We'd stumbled upon an international oasis in our small French town, looking for a cafe that reminded us of home.