This past weekend I took a trip to Paris with a big group of students. When we arrived I experienced my first true culture shock when I was immersed in a country that spoke a different language than English for the first time in my life. Luckily, the trip I went on was planned through a company that provided a tour guide and he could speak French and English.
Just when I thought I had adjusted to getting around on the “tubes” in London, I came in contact with the “metro” in Paris. The metro is a lot more intimidating because it isn’t as well-marked as the tubes and everything is in French. Plus, it is usually filled to the brim and the doors close a lot faster so if you can’t push your way on in time, good luck.
The first day we went out on a walking tour to Notre Dame I almost got shut out of the metro alone and that was very nerve-racking. By the end of the day, however, me and a few friends had done some independent exploring with the metro and it ended up being much easier than we originally thought. The only real difference is that the lines are numbered, rather than named, and you need to ignore the fact that the station names are in French, they’re still just station names.
Another big adjustment in Paris was not having any cell service. The short-term plan I purchased in England does not provide service in France, so when I had wi-fi I could communicate with others, but when I didn’t I was completely off the grid.
I found this to be quite enjoyable actually. It was the first time I can remember since the 5th grade that I didn’t have access to text messaging, yet we sat in front of the Eiffel Tower from 4pm-1am and admired it without interruption. It was one of the most relaxing things I had ever done. By the way, pictures don’t do it justice.
All in all, at the end of the day on Sunday I missed my London flat and the tubes that took us there. I missed Fish and Chips and sitting at a pub with my new friends. I realized that in the 3 short weeks I’ve been here, London has become a second home to me.