So I am finally here and I’m sure everyone is just dying to hear about my first day in France….or there are a lot of people bored in class and after checking their Facebook/Twitter/Neopets accounts for the millionth time, they finally deigned to click on this link. In either case, here goes.
Drum roll…..I already love it. While I’ve heard that everybody loves it at first and then you start hating it, the same people that told me that are the ones that made it sound like getting French people to be nice to me was going to be harder than making friends with the Taliban (I hear they’re a tough crowd). Everyone here has been really, really nice to me so far, and very understanding of the fact that I currently have the social capabilities of a slow second grader because of the language barrier. It is likely that they just feel sorry for me, which, by the way, I am completely okay with. People feeling bad for me is how I’ve gotten into most of my romantic relationships anyways.
Most of the time that I ask someone a question or start to have a conversation with them, after a couple of seconds they give me a knowing smile, aware that I am not a native. My accent gives me away every time. Nonetheless, they usually speak French back to me and only when I have a super clueless look on my face (think George Bush when giving public speeches) do they try to get their meaning across in English. This kind of back-and-forth usually results in a conversation that is 50% French, 30% bad French, and 20% broken English. Not too bad for my first couple days, right? Here’s a few of my other first impressions:
Things That Are Totally What I Expected Them To Be:
- If you ever come to France, make sure to pack your ventilator, because people here smoke….a lot. And unlike in the U.S., where smokers are shamed into smoking in a little faraway corner outside in the freezing cold, it is commonly accepted to smoke pretty much anywhere it seems.
- People totally sit outside of cafes and drink and smoke and talk and it is completely awesome. All I have to say about that.
- French people do the double kiss thing when they greet each other and I think it is so cute….I even did it yesterday and I immediately felt cooler. I went to have a beer (the region I’m in is actually better known for their beer than wine) and began talking to a girl named Charlotte who was waiting for her date. When I told her that I had heard that people here were a lot nicer than in Paris, I think she wanted to kiss me….she kept going on about how she hates Parisians. Anyways, when the guy she was meeting came, holding a cigarette of course, he greeted me like that…loved it.
Things that Make Me Say “Quoi???”:
- So many people here are nice and friendly! (This is a good surprise!). When I first got dropped off at the university, I had a HUGE suitcase that was over 50 pounds. There was a group of students sitting on the big set of steps that I needed to climb up with all my stuff. They all looked over at me when I got to the steps with that same look of pity that I think I am going to have to get used to. One guy asked me if I needed help, to which I replied, “Non merci” because I wanted to seem independent and cool. After struggling to get the suitcase up ONE step and almost dropping it, I looked back over at him plaintively and said, “Peut-etre” (“Maybe”) to which all of the students laughed. Embarrassing, but the guy carried my suitcase all around the building and stayed with me until I figured out where to go. He wasn’t bad-looker either.
- The city is very diverse, with a lot of Asian people especially. This is not to imply that it shouldn’t be diverse (I’m not a Republican after all….ha, just kidding guys), but it’s just not how I personally pictured France. There are all types of people here whose only common thread seems to be that they are all cooler than me.
- I have no idea why I have seen a couple of posters around the city that say “Swag Is Over” but I think that now that the French have declared it, we all have to listen. I’m talking to you douchey frat guys.
Ok, so that’s about all for now. I can already tell I am going to like it here. Now I just have to try to make some friends…let’s hope! There is a meeting in my dorm tonight that everyone has to go to so I am going to try to pull out the big guns for it, and by that I mean actually take a shower and brush my hair. Wish me luck!
Oh, and more pictures to come….I didn’t want to be “that girl” on the first day.