Living on French time

Leaving from Chicago

So, this post should have been written about 2 weeks ago, but since I am trying to get into the mindset of the French, I figure being 2 weeks late is exactly on time here.

But, back to me. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Michelle Sweeten, and I am in Paris, France this semester, and Dijon, France next semester studying French (duh). I am a junior this year with a double major in French (again- duh) and Graphic Design. What, you may ask, will I ever do with those two majors? I have absolutely no idea… If you come up with something that covers both subjects, let me know.

Besides just having a different concept of time, the culture here is definitely taking some getting used to. It’s been hard to walk around with a neutral expression all the time, and receiving neutral expressions in return- smiles are not common place here. The concept of personal space is also completely different, in the fact that it doesn’t exist. Since its a big city, there are usually some pretty horrible smells, especially in the metro. But, not everything is bad. The city is surprisingly safe. I’ve seen many younger kids (10ish-15) walking home from school by themselves. If you have a problem, Parisians are pretty good at helping out- I’ve watched many people run onto the metro as the doors are closing and they get their bag or coat stuck, and everyone around them jumps up to get the doors back open. A lady even stopped to help me today while I flipped through my map book, utterly lost.

Bacon flavored chips... not really considered a French culinary masterpiece

With all their cultural oddities, the French definitely know how to do food correctly. I have yet to eat anything I didn’t like (although the bacon flavored chips are really sub-par). The bread is fantastic, the cheese- well, when your country makes 300+ varieties, it had better be good- the pastries are mouth-watering, the deserts are to die for, and it’s really refreshing to buy foods without all the preservatives that american food have. The milk and eggs are probably the most different from in the states. Milk is sold in boxes (like Silk Milk in the states) and is not refrigerated until after you open it. The eggs are also bought unrefrigerated and can be put in the fridge when you get home, or left in a cupboard. They made me nervous at first, but if the French can handle warm milk and eggs, why cant I?

Even with all their weirdness, the French are definitely growing on me. They have a pretty bad rep in the States, but they are just people, with a different  history and culture that causes them to act different then Americans.

~Michelle Sweeten. Paris, France

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