Saturday, October 27, 2018

One Month Lessons

Can you believe it's already been a month since I got here to France?? (It's actually been just over a month, but who's counting?) A lot has happened in that month, and I've learned quite a lot already! Including that public wifi is often unreliable, and therefore it can be difficult to keep up with a blog... My goal for this year was to keep a frequent and thorough account of my experience here on the blog, along with sharing about my creative endeavors and other important (yes, important) musings! Yet, here we are, over a month in, and I can count on one hand how many times I've posted! Well I will tell you all right now, that is about to change, now that I've found a convenient and reliable connection just down the street at good old Pret A Manger. Thank God for international chains, amiright?


Anyway, now for the real meat and potatoes of this post: My One Month Lessons. Here are the things I've learned about France, and life in general, in the last roughly 30 days.

1. 95% of French people smoke. This is not a tried and true statistic, but it is certainly my educated guess. I had forgotten just how common smoking is in France.

2. Believe it or not, there is more puke on the sidewalks and trains here than in NYC. It's disturbing how much I've seen in this short month.

3. It feels VERY strange to brush your teeth and wash your dishes in the same sink. I have one sink in my teeny tiny apartment, so I don't really have a choice but to use it for everything! I gotta say, when you've spent 26 years with different sinks designated for different uses, it's pretty weird to spit your toothpaste into the same sink where you clean your pots and pans.

4. There are dopplegangers of people you know ALL over the world. The amount of people I've seen here who look EXACTLY like people I know back home is astonishing.

5. French people and American people are not on the same level when it comes to personal space. Sometimes I really get the feeling that I am a magnet, and people on the street are pulled towards me, regardless of the amount of empty space on the sidewalk. They don't feel they've gotten close enough until they've shoulder checked me.

6. On that note, I've never been sardined into a subway car like I have been multiple times on the Paris Metro. Things got pretty intimate on the NYC subway, but this is another level of public closeness.

7. For the most part, Parisians are kind, helpful, and understanding. Of course, there are always going to be your stick-in-the-mud waiters and stink-eye-giving shop keepers. But overall, people are willing to give advice, help you figure out what it is you need, and do it with a smile. Even when I stumble over my French, most French people have been patient. (And they appreciate when you are patient and kind and understanding, too!)

8. Americans are INSANELY lucky to have Trader Joe's. You have no idea. Don't take that for granted.

9. If you thought scooters went out of style in the early 2000s, you are mistaken! At least here, everyone uses them for transportation. Some of them are electric, but most of them are the old school push-it-with-your foot sorts. I'm seriously considering getting with the trend. Also, it's somewhat hilarious to see a business man in a three piece suit pushing himself along the sidewalk on a scooter.

10. Americans are, at least by comparison, a very friendly people. As a group, we smile, hug, and laugh a whole heck of a lot, and it gives us away almost immediately.

This is just a sprinkling of the things I've learned. I'll definitely be checking back in with more lessons as time goes. Of course, these are fairly subtle cultural differences. We aren't talking about major lifestyle adjustments. But sometimes it's the little things that add up to be a totally new experience! What sorts of things have you noticed when moving to a new place?

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