I’ve gotten used to a lot of the cultural differences between France and the US and despite some minor things or days where I just want to curl up in my bed at home with my dog and a good book, I’ve been adjusting really well to Parisian life! However, one thing that I think I will never get over is how early the city shuts down.
What you have to understand about my confusion here is that I live in the middle of nowhere when I’m not at school in Pittsburgh (for reference, I live by a lot of Amish and the only traffic jams we get are when tractors decide to [illegally] drive on the road) and yet, the stores are open later at home than they are here in Paris! This is a city with a large population! Why can’t I buy groceries on a Sunday? That’s when everyone at home buys groceries! Why can’t I get a burger at 2am? I thought at least McDonald’s would have my back here – but no, no it does not.
I am forever going to be shocked about how long it takes for it to get dark here (probably around 11pm). You’d think, considering this fact, that the shops and restaurants would stay open later – they don’t. As an American living here who likes to avoid people as much as possible by getting groceries late at night (a trick my mother taught me) and who likes to have lazy mornings on the weekends, this difference is pretty shocking to me, personally. So many of the shops around me close in the early afternoon!
I think one of the funniest instances where this cultural difference was so painfully obvious to me and my roommate here (another American studying abroad from Pitt) was when she wanted to do her laundry *late* at night. (I put asterisks there because, to us, it truly wasn’t very late) As she entered the laundry room, our host father stopped her and said “In Paris, we sleep at night.”
Maybe I’m just a night-owl who likes to wander around late – although, to be fair to me, most of the shopping stores here close ridiculously early and many close before they’re actually supposed to…
I’ve got a month to get used to it, I guess – if I don’t, I only have a month until I can be back to my usual lazy American habits. Either way, I’m sure I’ll survive without my 2am junk food shame while I’m here! 🙂