I’ve been in Paris for three weeks now and I can’t believe my time here is halfway over! This trip has already been more than I could ever have imagined it to be, and I’ve learned so much from living here. Living abroad has definitely taught me several life lessons; especially debunking the notion that everything done in the United States is the “right way” while everywhere else is “weird”. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always admired and been fascinated by other cultures, and I’ll never pass up an opportunity to learn about the ways that other people live around the world. But this notion is a more subconscious conditioning that I never really noticed before actually coming to another country.
Realizing the cultural differences did not take long for me to do here in Paris. Since day one, I’ve been noticing the uncountable differences between America and France. From non-refrigerated milk and eggs to not a single person wearing shorts, I quickly got acquainted with the way things were done around here. And, although I don’t dislike the differences, they made me feel displaced and a bit self-conscious at first. I found myself thinking: Why do they do it this way here? Why wouldn’t they just do it the same way it’s done in America? Wouldn’t it just be easier for everyone to be on the same page?
This is when I really caught myself being affected by culture shock. Just because France does something differently than the United States doesn’t make it a “weird” country. In fact, since France has prospered as a country for a much longer time than America has (I’ve actually walked around in a wine cellar in Reims built in 340 AD) it’s a shock that anyone would question French practices or call them “weird”. It just goes to show that culture is an all-encompassing concept, and it plays a huge role in who you are! And, despite several cultural differences, the French are not aliens. They are just people, like Americans, living and working and having fulfilling lives in another country on this earth. Even though we don’t share all of the same customs or the same language, we are not strangers to one another.
In other news, I went to the little town of Giverny, France this weekend to visit Monet’s home where he lived and painted 100 years ago! It’s no surprise he was so inspired by nature here – one is constantly surrounded by towering hills of endless forestry in the distance and quaint fields of grazing horses in close proximity. Every home looks to be at least 200 years old and there isn’t one window lacking a flowerbox overflowing with colorful plants. Monet’s home and garden foster every color known to the human eye; it felt like a glimpse of heaven! His pond of water lilies remains picturesque and quiet even among the large groups of tourists passing through. Needless to say, it was a wonderful day trip away from the bustling, big city.
This upcoming week is going to be very school-heavy, complete with oral presentations and writing assignments… Wish me luck! Next weekend will be the best reward for a challenging week – I’ll be spending it in Marseille on the Côte d’Azur! Beach and sun, here I come!
Until next week, au revoir!
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<p>Hi, there! My name is Sophia Raymond and I'm studying Public Relations and Marketing and Indiana University. Curiosity may be what killed the cat, but it's what fuels me! I'm a writer, designer, and visual arts creator, and I'm an absolute nerd for 20th century history (currently binge-watching CNN's Decade series). Usually, you can find me rock climbing, painting, or snuggling with my adorable Irish-doodle Sookie, but this summer I'll be studying abroad in Paris to further my French fluency and explore Europe! Life is a beautiful thing, and I plan on making the most of it.</p>