Finding Myself Abroad

070Coming to France was not a big culture shock, but it sure is different from American culture.  I have had many different experiences with their culture, such as how to eat for one example.  French people seem more sophisticated when it comes to eating food.  They eat their pizza with a fork and knife, which is different from picking it up with your hands and eating it, which is what I do and still do over here after using the fork and knife for a little bit.  Another thing French people do with food is eat their fries with a fork using mayonnaise as a dipping sauce instead of ketchup.  This seemed weird to me, but I tried the mayonnaise with the fries and it tasted okay.  The French also eat meals slower than Americans do.  They will sit down for a meal at dinner time for several hours and slowly eat their meal; they do not rush through it and the restaurant owners are not as worried about flipping tables as quickly as the American restaurants do.

Now a place where the French are not slow is on the metro moving about the city.  People will run you over to get on a train and will get frustrated with you if you move slowly in front of them and they cannot get around you.  Once on the train people will rush for an open seat. To avoid that I just stand because it is easier.  The metro system as a whole though was somewhat frightening to use at first, but after that it turned out to be very simple to use even if you do not speak French.

075I believe that the biggest thing that has shocked me the most is having everyone around me speak a different language.  I knew this would happen because of course I am in France, but I did not realize how relieved I would be when I started going to different tourist sites and being excited when I heard someone else speak English who was not part of our group.  Now some of the French people do speak English, but they learn  British English, so when they ask you for fries they say chips instead, which is different, but easy to understand. [Dr. Langston’s edit: there are all kinds of English accents here, not just British.]

I am excited for many of the different things we have planned for the next two weeks here in France and for many more experiences I am bound to have.  If you are thinking about doing a study abroad experience later in your school career I would certainly recommend it.  You will meet many new and different people, even people whom you go to school with and have never seen. You will bond almost instantly.