An (Obvious) American in Paris

Bonjour à tous!

My first eight days here have been a rollercoaster ride to say the least. I’ve met new people from all over the US in my program, I’ve explored Paris both alone and with new friends, and I’ve definitely had plenty more than my share of embarrassing moments. From tripping over the way they pronounce the letter “R,” to buying the wrong groceries because I can hardly read French, the fact that I am not from here never fails to shine through. In celebration of my time here, which has been both fulfilling and humbling, I’d like to share some of my defeats and victories with you all!

DEFEATS.

1. At home, to buy produce, you place it in a bag, and the cashier weighs and prices it for you. Here in Paris, most grocery stores will have you weigh and price your produce yourself. I got to the front of the line at the grocery store and the cashier looked at me like I had lost my mind.

2. On my second day here, when I decided to stop a small produce market by the dorm, I bought a package of strawberries. The package cost 3€ and I paid with a 20 € note. I received 5 euros in change. I had no clue how to say, ” You gave me the wrong change,” in French. Whether it was intentional or accidental, I will never know. Either way, I had to take a loss on that one.

3. Because of my limited knowledge of the French language, I’ve been purchasing the wrong things. After mistaking fabric softener for laundry detergent TWO times in a row, I decided to deal with it and do laundry with shampoo, bar, soap, and of course, plenty of fabric softener.

4. On that same note, the package of paper towels I purchased looked almost identical to the package of toilet paper next to it. You can imagine my surprise when I arrived at my dorm to rip open the package, only to find the opposite of what I needed.

VICTORIES!

1. My French may not be the very best, but the people I’ve met so far are more than happy to help. I can now confidently say, “Je voudrais  un croissant au beurre, s’il vous plait.” I’ll be writing French novels in no time.

2. We’ve been attending so many amazing performances that it’s hard to keep up! So far we’ve seen work by Crystal Pite, Sidi Larbi, and Ali Chahrour, and we’ll be witnessing many more as the month continues. It’s been wonderfully inspiring to see the endless possibilities of dance outside the US.

3. My dorm room is absolutely gorgeous! I thought I’d be in a closet with a bed, but my room is spacious, complete with a large window overlooking Square Necker Park across the street. I might also add that I am the only student in the program who was blessed with a kitchen in my room, an invaluable convenience.

In short, life in Paris so far is bewildering, miraculous, extraordinary, and most of all, thrilling. You win some, and you lose others. Either way, you always learn something new!

Me and some artwork at the Theatre de Ville

Á plus tard!

-Hannah

One thought on “An (Obvious) American in Paris

  1. Haha, I can definitely vouch as a fellow American that just came back from backpacking across Western Europe I went through every defeat just like you did. However, you are correct, traveling to Europe has been a very eye-opening experience in learning to take the defeats and the victories. Good luck with your remaining time in Paris.

    Bonne chance!
    -Myles

    Like

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