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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Things So Different in France..

I was crossing the street yesterday and as I edged across the street and the little green man called me on, a car swerved and turned the corner quickly.  I paused like a deer in the headlights, and noticed others didn't even react, so I continued crossing.

Then I thought, Wow.  This is really one of those things to add to my list of Things I May NEVER Get Used To in France..

So I was inspired to create a list...

  1. Crossing the street.  In Oregon they stop WAY far back.  In France their lights are up your ass.. not literally of course.
  2. Making a doctor's visit.  In France you have to pick a doctor, call them, make an appointment.. no hospitals or insurance companies.
  3. No small talk. Ever.  You know, at the cash register, and you are like, 'oh yes, and my dog loves that brand, hahaha' here, they scan, you stand, you pay, 'bon journée'.  It's honesty, but it's also one of the reasons French have a stereotype of being rude.
  4. Water in toilets. Half of the water in the toilets in America.
  5. Pink toilet paper.  Makes me feel weird. I dunno why.
  6. Disgusting public toilets.  I'll admit, Oregon has some nice public pee spots.
  7. Being touched and squished on the Metro.  Look.  I'm American I need at least a 4 inch perimeter around me to feel comfortable... in France that doesn't exist.
  8. American television.  Everyone on TV is dubbed in French, it feels awkward to watch Friend's and have 'Rachel' be called, 'Raaa-sheelll' and then I end up debating with Brian the real name. Horrible.
  9. Notebooks are graph paper.  It's a pet peeve.  I like college rule, lined paper.  Every fekkin' notebook in France is graph.  I hate graph.
  10. Cheap veggies.  It's still shocking to pick up 2 kilos of tomatoes and shell out 3 €... not sayin' I don't like it!
  11. Grocery stores not bagging, and beyond that, no option between 'paper or plastic'They throw everything past the register, and kind of like a video game, you have to grab it and stuff it into plastic bags.. sometimes those are provided, most times they are not and you have to bring your own.
  12. Grandmas in orthopedic high-heels.  Every woman in France wears high heels; the trend is dwindling, thank god for 'Fashion Boots' but Grandma's hold the tradition and scoot along in, I KID YOU NOT, orthopedic high heels.  And no I couldn't find an image, for some reason googling this gets me to porn.  Weird.
  13. Being interupted.  It's a cultural thing in discussion in France to interupt as you feel the need.
  14. Protests every weekend.  Every weekend someone is not happy about something and they make big ol' gatherings to show they are not happy.
  15. Sales are only TWICE a year.  It's incredible, sales in France only exist twice a year... that's something I can never get used to.  In the US there is always a sale.
  16. Mini Coffees.  All the coffee in France is served in tiny little cups- reminding me of when I played 'tea time'.  No free refills.  No giant cups.
  17. Aspirin in Fizzy Form.  All the pills in France that I've taken have been in fizzy form, which you put in water and it becomes liquid, like Alka Seltzer.
  18. The Exchange Rate.  I feel all awesome cause I have 100 bucks, in dollars, in my account.. but in reality it's only €70.  So sad.  Once I start working I'm sure I'll feel better.
  19. Grocery Stores.  I feel like the choices in the stores are so different than home.  Here cheeses are everywhere, giant aisles of smelly-good cheeses.
  20. The work week.  35 hours a week?  Woah.  Things here are closed on Sundays, even in the center of the city the grocery stores are closed- I find solace in my Corporate Honing Device in Starbucks in Bellecour.  People like time off in France.
  21. Social aide.  As a student I get a nice chunk of change from the French government- even though I'm not a French Citizen.  I also have cheap health care, if I get a job I get 5 weeks vacation and unlimited sick pay.  Cool cool cool.
And that my friends is a short list, but a growing list, of things I may NEVER get used to while living in France.  We'll see.



  1. I also miss shopping on sundays and random chat at the supermarket, and I think it's not just at traffic lights but everywhere, people are damned obnoxious on the roads here. I'm glad we gave up on the car.
    I always find myself buying the cheap crap toilet roll because I feel weird using something coloured, scented and patterned, it's too pretty for that purpose haha.
    Also you can ask for the non-fizzy pills, at least for paracetamol :)

  2. #2: that's the way it used to be here too, you're too young to remember but before the insurance companies took over in the 80's, we got to make appointments directly with our doctor too...
    #16: definitely wouldn't be able to handle that. I need the jumbo-size mug.
    #19: Praise Cheeses!!
    #20: that's weird, it seems like some things are more progressive in France, like healthcare and social services, other things are more conservative like the US culture was in the 1950's, with family dinners, things closed on Sundays, etc.
    I'm trying to think of something else to write, but it's 8:30am and I haven't had that jumbo mug of coffee yet, you know how I am in the mornings... ;)


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