What parts of your host country’s culture do you find most difficult to assimilate? Why has this been difficult for you to adapt?
Ok, so Paris today is still as wonderful as Paris yesterday, but for the last week i’ve been sick. I will say I’d rather have cold in the middle of France than back at home in Pittsburgh, but a cold is a cold, and I’ve been pretty out of it for a week. This week at work we have been preparing for the opening night of our exhibition for the summer: Life on Mars. For the past few weeks, there have been moments when I have had absolutely nothing to do, so it is a nice change of pace to have a lot of work on my plate. Another nice thing is that all the work is super easy and manageable. I like this because this way I can focus mainly on the language acquisition and I am not allotting too much brain power to the tasks I am given.
Throughout the week tons of artists have stopped by in preparation for the exhibition. I have found that the sooner I let it be known that I am american the better. I am fully comfortable with speaking in french however I do need some phrases explained to me so it makes conversations significantly less awkward if I let it be known up front that I do not speak fluently.
This week because I have been sick my host mother has treated me like her own daughter. This was nice because I would wake up to her making me tea and her giving me different medicines before I go to bed. Now this is actually a double edged sword to some extend because as her “new daughter” she feels completely comfortable walking into my room at 3am to give me more medicine doses because I am up coughing. Thankfully I am feeling better already, and I do attribute my “come up” on her. On a similar note I bought some medicine at the pharmacy that would’ve costed me 25 dollars in the US that only cost 4 dollars here.
To answer this week’s question the parts of Frances culture that I have found it hardest to assimilate to is firstly how close the french people speak to one another. In the US, we keep at least an arms distances between each other when talking, and in France, I’d say that space is nearly halved. This has been difficult for me to adapt to because in the US you’re only that close to someone if they are your significant other so in every conversation i’ve been having here it feels very intimate to me even though it is completely normal and standard to the person I am talking to.
Another part of France’s culture that I am finding it hard to assimilate to is the way they dress. In the United States as a whole, we show a lot more skin and we dress very very casual. Here, casual means you wear a blazer. So within the first week of living here I stopped by several thrift stores in order to change my style slightly in order to fit in. I actually haven’t found style to be too difficult to adapt to now that I am 4 weeks into my program. Initially it was definitely something that surprised me but now I am totally used to it.
The last thing that has taken some time to adjust to is just the overall approach to life here and career. Here, what is the most important is how much vacation time a job provides, or the benefits. In the United States, your yearly salary is definitely important. In conversations here, I have had to stop myself from saying “Oh, I was offered a job but it didn’t pay enough”, because statements like that are definitely frowned upon here.
All and all, my time is france has been lovely so far, I can’t believe I am halfway done. I do miss home, but I will arguably miss Paris even more. Until next week! X