From my [limited] experiences in Paris, I have learned many things, not only about Parisian/French culture, but also about my abilities to adapt to a different environment as a consequence of my new abode. As I’ve lived here, I’ve discovered that Parisian life is generally more lenient and relaxed both professionally and socially (though that’s not to say that Parisians [and I, actually] don’t judge people talking loudly in public, as Americans so often do).
My coworkers generally tend to arrive to work about 30 minutes past when the workday is supposed to begin and it is considered entirely acceptable and almost anticipated. I am often the first person who arrives at the office, and there have been a few times already when I have waited outside for a long while for my boss to show up and unlock the office.
From what I’ve gathered so far, Parisian social life is similarly easygoing. I have spent easily three (3!) hours at dinner (dinner!) with friends, and have not been pushed out of the restaurant by the waitress like we would expect from dinner out in the States. Additionally, this Sunday (3 June 2018) I was invited to a picnic with my coworkers, and although we all agreed on 2:00 pm, most everyone arrived about an hour later than anticipated. I thought I’d get there at the perfect time (not the first person soas to avoid having to pick the spot and wander around alone but also not the last person soas to avoid getting a bad seating position). But no, despite my arriving 20-30 minutes “late,” I was still the first person to arrive and ended up waiting along with my Irish coworker about 30 additional minutes for anyone else to show up. As someone who likes to arrive somewhere early if not on time, this carefree tendency is absolutely not something I am comfortable with, and I suppose I now know that I need to work on relaxing and going with the flow a little more often rather than planning everything out obsessively – none of my plans are going to work out exactly the way I want them to and I need to be able to adapt to a more lenient environment.
Despite our cultural differences, I am extremely happy to have this opportunity – I never would have challenged myself in the same way in any other circumstances. Everyone in my office has been so accepting that I have never felt excluded, something which I am incredibly thankful for. Not only have we socialized outside of the workplace after work and on the weekends (i.e. at our picnic), but I’ve also been invited along with them for a weekend trip to Normandy, which I am so excited for! In my experiences so far, I have been able to challenge myself to be more relaxed and less anxious about timeliness. I have also gotten along with all of my coworkers, something which I was personally extremely nervous about, and feel included and accepted here. I am so grateful to experience this opportunity and I can’t wait to see what else I learn about me, Paris, and the workplace! 🙂