Bonjour a tous! I still love Paris, still love my job, and am heartbroken to be leaving so soon. This week I made a lot of new friends through an expat event I visited, and I had more disappointing French Mexican food. Also, my mother and aunt came to visit me this week!!! It was so nice to see my family, and they had a great time watching me speak French to waiters and then trying to repeat me. I’ve eaten a lot of good food and seen a lot of fun things this past week, and I have one more to do it again.
The biggest cultural difference that has affected my interactions with the French has been that American culture is MUCH more friendly, open, and accessible than the French are. Everyone here, while perfectly nice people, have been very disinterested and short, simply because they don’t care about opening up or interacting with me. The French handle conflict very calmly and with lots of reflection, as far as I have seen, and there is little screaming in stores or demanding to speak to a manager or blow up fights in the street. They are often late, as deadlines here are not nearly as important as in the US. They are also phenomenally judgmental of ‘foreigners’, as the French have a very superior air about them. The value system here is much more individualistic, and focused on appearance and refined indulgence. The major differences in living, economics, and politics are very clear between France and the US. Everyone here has healthcare, most people are well educated at a very affordable cost, and the overall political climate tends to lean more left than the US (although there is still a harsh political tension here). Their perception of Americans at the moment is also not great. Their view of the current administration has left the view of Americans decidedly hostile, as they fear we are all racist gun nuts who are locking babies in cages. However, even before the current administration, their view of Americans wasn’t perfect. They have very low expectations of us, and think that we are friendly, ignorant, stupid, fat country folk. Therefore, any time I do anything that they perceive as requiring the slightest amount of brainpower, or expose myself as speaking French, they are absolutely amazed, as they think it out of my capabilities. It isn’t exactly flattering, but also leads to a convenient excuse for anytime I screw something up.
Until next week!