I'm back to France. It's been less than 2 months, now. In my mind, it didn't entirely switch yet. But some signs don't lie. Here, some examples.
When I hear people talking in French around me, I'm in alert. I concentrate on what they are saying and then, it hits me. "Well... my dear, you'll better get used to it. You're in France!".
After being brushed past a couple of times by cars at crosswalks, I decided to give up. Even if the light is theoretically given you the right of way, stop. Look very carefully on the right and on the left, and IF THERE IS NO CAR, hurry up to the other side of the road. Once there, you can breathe. In France, pedestrians are never respected.
We can eat bread without having to make it ourselves (or, more accurately, without the playboy having to make it). BUT, we still didn't find THE boulangerie. The playboy is actively looking for it.
I'm better at avoiding saying "good morning/sorry/thank you", in English. My brain is still often on English mode while outside from home.
At the grocery store, I'm fascinated by the yogurts aisle. There are 2 reasons for that: #1, in France, yogurts don't have the same texture, and, for me, the one I found in France is the "normal" one / #2, you can't find Danette, or Tiramisu or crème brûlée sold as yogurts at the grocery store in the USA. I have no idea why there's no such thing there. It would totally be a hit. Danette, what are you waiting for?!
At the grocery store, again (grocery stores are THE place to witness cultural differences between countries), I quickly had to forget about the nice and smiling employee waiting for you to give him/her your bags at check out. First, in France, this smiling employee doesn't exist (euphemism). Then, you have to be quick at filling up your bags as the cashier is in a mission: will he/she be able to get rid of all your stuff piling them up on the other side? I guess the aim is to break a time record or something. It doesn't matter to him/her if there were fruits and vegetables among your stuff. Pushing, piling up, squeezing everything, it's how it's done.
How can I explain to him/her that:
- no, Sir/Madam, it won't make me fill my bags quicker
- no, Sir/Madam, even if you're breaking a time record, it won't make you deal with the next customer faster
- because, YES, Sir/Madam, I am also in a mission: "do not pay before being done with filling up my bags". NEVER, EVER!
I'm trying to stay calm and to not aggressively react to that kind of behaviors. My personal mantra since I'm in France: Keep smiling. It's hard, but a smile is disarming. (For me, nervous little creature, it's not that easy.)
The first time I went running in a city, I almost cried. Why people are so withdrawn? Why even the idea of looking up and catching someone else's eyes is so crazy? Why is it so hard to think about saying hi? And why, if I say hi, some people don't even look up? Honestly, it affects me (nervous AND sensitive little creature... I know, life is hard). In my small Californian town, I was coming back smiling from my morning run. A big smile and nice greetings are the rule there. Actually, it was weird for me at first. "Who is this person waving to me? Do I know him? ... no... come on, we don't know each other!". Now, I think about this runner I crossed paths with, every week. A stranger, but, at the end, he was even giving me a high five every time. I miss him.
As I want to be as positive as the Americans, I created the #hiontherun movement! Well, big words for my own initiative: I say hi to everyone I see on my running route. Give it a try!
When I want to contact my sister, my first reaction is to watch the time and add 9... except, now, we live on the same time zone.
Thursday nights got back to a special time in the week: the night of "Envoyé Spécial" (French TV show made of documentaries about current affairs). My dad loves this show and I watched it with him when I was a kid. Now, I love it too.
I can watch Playmobil again, every week night, for the news, at 8pm!
(He is a TV presenter who, in my opinion, looks like a Playmobil. So, I gave him the nickname of "Playmobil". See by yourself.)
I do remember, now, why I hated driving in France. Why are the roads so narrow? Why are they so twisty? And, WHO did decide to make the parking spots so tiny?
I don't know if you were aware of that, but, France is the country of the roundabouts and the speed bumps.
Also, know that, if you are stopped at an intersection and you want to go, it's normal if the engine stalls. You have to shift down a gear... I know, I would be a perfect driving instructor. Manual cars, people!
On a Sunday, in France, EVERYTHING is closed. That's depressing. Our new favorite Sunday activity: find THE boulangerie which is open. It's a huge challenge.
I miss listening to KROQ while driving in Spiky (our Californian car). With Tigrou (I still have to present you our new car!), I had to go with ChérieFM (French radio station of old popular songs... nothing to do with KROQ). As I am in France, I thought it would be great to be able to sing out loud in French. Well, SO disappointing... the songs are bad and I can't even sing.
In the morning, at 6.30-7am, it's still dark. It disturbs my morning person nature. I understand better, now, why French people are not so much early risers compared to American people.
Let's end on a positive note: I was there to celebrate my grand-mother's birthday. 90 years old. Always better to be able to give her a real hug instead of watching her from a computer screen.
Readjustment still in progress...
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