Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top five: first impressions of France

I was in France for two weeks in November, and there were some things that really struck me about the country and the people. I'm sure there will be many more cultural shocks to come once I'm actually living there, and I guarantee they will be documented on this very blog, but I thought I would introduce you to the first things that caught my eye.

View of the Rhone, Lyon

  1. Everybody smokes. OK, not literally every single person, but waaaaay more people than in the US. (Those gross PSAs here must be working!) There are cigarette butts everywhere on the street, and hanging out with my boyfriend and his friends felt like being in bars before they banned indoor smoking. I even started smoking - minimally, I assure you - while I was there.
  2. Razor scooters are everywhere. In fact, they are a legitimate mode of transportation for people of all ages. I cannot tell you how amazing it was to see a grandma scoot by me on the sidewalk on a Razor scooter! I get it - the sidewalks and streets are narrow (see #5), and you can fold them up to take into work or onto the subway - but man...I laughed so hard when I saw people commuting to work on those things. 
  3. I am overweight. Time to address the elephant in the room (pun intended). French women, and men, are generally quite thin. I found myself constantly comparing my physique to the women around me, and I lost the contest every time but maybe twice. I don't know if it's lifestyle, genetics, diet, or what, but I definitely intend to find out, and then use it to my advantage. It's no fun being the "fat American."
  4. Damn you, delicious French pastries!

  5. Toilets are in the closet. I'm not exaggerating. In the homes I visited, the toilet was in a tiny little room that doubled as a storage closet. I peed next to vacuum cleaners, old books, and cleaning supplies. It was...interesting. 
  6. The streets are TINY. I didn't realize just how wide our streets are until I saw European streets. Like, wow. Most of them can't be much more than just one car width wide! And people ask if I'm going to drive over there? Aw hell no!!
I only have two more weeks to enjoy genuinely American things in their natural habitat, such as ubiquitous commercials for fast food and delivery pizza, supermarkets open until midnight, massively wide streets, and 8-lane freeways, so I better make the most of it!

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