International student Oana Buleandră did her internship in Hotel Napoleon in Paris. She tried to live "the true Parisian life!"
You just moved to Paris and you keep thinking that you are going to be super ‘Frenchy’ and enjoy everything that France has to offer. At least that’s what I was thinking. Imagine my surprise when all of my French friends kept telling me that I didn’t move to France, I moved to Paris, which is something totally different from the country itself.
Just after I got here, a Parisian friend of mine insisted on giving me “Parisian lessons” on how to live here. You might be wondering what I am talking about. Well, in the first days of living here you might notice how people don’t even look at the light stop, they look left to see if a car is coming (sometimes not even that) and then they cross. Parisians are always in a hurry, they don’t have time to stroll around, let alone look at the light stop; it is there only for décor purposes, even the drivers know it, they always let the hurried pedestrians cross. Now, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me anymore as my friend put it simply “just forget everything you have learnt before about walking on the street and just start living the Parisian way… or you will be pushed around in the traffic.” It’s remarkable that even though I was accustomed to the French culture I also had to be introduced to the 'Parisian one' which is different than the French one.
Wait a moment… pushed around? Yes, you’ve heard that right! In my ‘curriculum’ I had to learn not to wait for the others in traffic after saying “excuse me”, you just have to push your way through. Some Parisians do not even say they are sorry, they do not have time for that; they make space for themselves. Everybody around you is moving at a fast pace, so you have to adapt, even though French people are generally known to take their time in enjoying a good walk in the city or the well-known coffee-break.
In my second class, I was told to expect spending more than I had initially planned, only in this way I will be able to live “the true Parisian life”. The people living outside the capital even have a way to call this kind of Parisians – “bobo”, which is short for “bourgeois-bohemians”. It is generally described as an attitude of living a “high class” life, even though you can’t afford it. It can be summed up in a really simple example: living in an overly priced tiny studio in Paris, just to say that you live in Paris, and always having your “apéro” in one of the nice expensive terraces that Paris has to offer.
Since I have been living here, I have tried to maintain a balance between the French culture I wanted to live, and the Parisian life presented to me. How about you? Did you experience cultural differences between the capital city and the country itself?
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