Thursday, February 13, 2014
Realized I haven’t blogged in a few days and it’s definitely not due to lack of time, more so just not sure what to talk about. I am a sponge here and am taking mental notes on how the French behave, dress, talk, etc all the time…so here are a few observations.
1. Everyone really is dressed perfectly all the time. You will never see anyone in tennis shoes, unless they are running which I will get to, or even t-shirts. It’s not like the women in particular have perfect hair and makeup everyday…actually the opposite. They might have their hair up in a pony-tail and hardly any makeup, but they still look flawless. I have mastered heels all day, although I was dying by the time I got home.
2. Everyone really does smoke. I seriously feel like I permanently smell like smoke just from walking and standing by the smokers. Walking down the street, outside the metro, outside high school, you name it, there’s someone smoke a cigarette. I inhaled a puff coming home from the grocery store at 9am the other day…from this tiny little grandma walking down the street in front of me. I was trying to work up the speed to pass her, didn’t realize she was smoking and then BAM a whole puff right in my face. Thanks grandma.
3. Everyone seems to be in a hurry, but no rush at all at the same time. It’s funny to me how there is no real schedule. At home my day was planned down to 15 minutes, here it’s like there’s no schedule. If lunch takes three hours, so be it…class just kind of runs on and “oh, I guess it’s time to stop now” But then walking down the street, riding the metro, going to the store, everyone is in such a hurry. It’s very much like walking down the sidewalk in Chicago, but then once you’re to your destination, there is no schedule. Very much of an adjustment from a girl who is always on the go and rushing through life.
4. Sex and marriage is a different affair. We discussed in my Contemporary France class on Tuesday the statistics of marriage and just general demographics in France. Divorce rates are only about 2% average for the country, but Parisians either stay single or have a very high divorce rate. I also learned that the French have the highest contraception usage but also the highest abortion rates in the European Union…does that just equal a LOT of sex? This all got me thinking about how many single people there are in this city so I was paying special attention to rings on the metro ride home; I saw one, yes one, on my 30 minute ride home. I asked my Madame about it at dinner and she said that rings, and even marriage is not a big deal here. Men basically never wear wedding bands and women hardly do too. They also are “enfianced” less and less, it’s just kind of like “let’s get married” and then the wedding happens. I told her how extravagant our engagements are and she was shocked.
5. No matter how much I try, they still automatically know I’m American. I’m well aware that my french is not natural and that I probably look American but I’m not trying to draw attention to myself! Basically every cafe that I have been to, we walk in, say “Bonjour, quatre pour boire” (Hello, four to drink (Yes, you have to declare that you’re there to drink or eat and they seat based upon that)) and they respond with “English menu?” NO! Or today, I went to a museum and explained that I was a student with my student card (I get into basically all of the museums for free with my student ID) and one of the tour guides walked up to the desk and goes “How do you say ‘lac’ in English?” It’s shocking how obvious we are, but I’ve just kind of accepted that I will never look French.
Just a few updates on my actual where abouts. I started my Art History and French Contemporary Culture class this week…both extremely interesting, but I’m still very confused on expectations and the format. One syllabus was full of bolds, italics and underlines with no rhyme or reason so that was fun to decipher. I took my oral exam to determine the level of my language class; I’m perfectly happy with my level…we’ll see how that goes when class starts Tuesday! And a few pictures from my explorations…