I was at a bar the other night and it became pretty obvious after one conversation with some locals that Americans are an incredibly easy target for Frenchies to make a joke out of. I can take the heat but I feel that it’s only my duty to return the favor.
I will definitely say that I sensationalized the idea of life in Paris before coming here which can contribute to feelings of discomfort and isolation when expectations aren’t met. It was evident that the locals I met the other night don’t feel the same aura of glamour surrounding life in the states. Overly loud, overly friendly, and overly air-conditioned. Are they wrong, though?
They say that discussing your in-country experience makes it easier to process and eases those feelings of “mal à l’aise” and so, on that token, I will proceed with poking fun at the Parisians. This is all out of love, I swear.
Here’s some things that make me think twice about putting Parisians on a pedestal in the form of bullet points and inquiries:
- Let’s talk about air flow. Or the lack thereof. Everywhere. My metro ride to my internship for the last week has been especially interesting as I observe the beads of sweat dripping down every person’s face, hand clutching the overhead bar instead of reaching two inches to the right and cracking the metro car window. Why are you guys doing this to yourselves? Why must we all suffer?
- The slew of grown adults riding Razor scooters as a legitimate mode of transportation. This brings me pure joy every time I see a fully suited man, briefcase in hand, propelling his foot off the side walk to push his freaking scooter along. Would I be lying if I said I didn’t wish I was them sometimes? Oui.
- No one blesses you when you sneeze. Maybe this is my over-friendly American showing but what is the deal with not acknowledging when another person accidentally sprays their mouth germs into your breathing space at 40 mph?
- Coin money that has substantial monetary value. I should probably stop feeling like I’m scoring a huge deal on something every time I pay with coin money that equates to two or three US dollars.
- Would it be best to just pick up a smoking habit with the amount of second hand smoke I’ve been inhaling, or no?
- Do the French just all have fantastic book and antique collections or are they hoarders? Where do we draw the line?
Reasons I still hold Parisians on a pedestal:
- Vending machines with .40 cent espresso shots.
- Since smiling at strangers is considered weird, you never have to look more enthused than you actually are at any given time.
- The general value pushback towards overconsumption and immediate gratification. This manifests in the expectation that everyone brings their own reusable bags to the grocery store and buys only what they need for the next day or two to limit waste. Bathrooms with paper towels instead of hand dryers or towels are few and far between. Public transportation in form of bus, train, metro, and bike are incredibly accessible and easy to use. Are the elevators purposefully stuffy to encourage you to take the stairs?
- These people do not waste things (to expand on point #3)!! The absence of paper towels and paper napkins in my host family’s house has made me fully realize how much of a slob I am. I know my mom will read this and say that she could’ve told me this sooner (and she has) but Paris seems like a cooler place to go through the process of self-actualization.
- The generic grocery store brand version of Nutella is just as good if not better than the original. Also cheaper. Bravo, Monoprix and Carrefour.
Until next time,