I can’t believe that I’ve been living in Paris for a whole month now! This week has been full of lessons and here are some of the things I have found out this week!
If I actually listen to what people say I might understand
I realised this week that when someone tries to speak to me in French, I start screaming internally with fear and want the world to open up and swallow me so I don’t have to deal with the situation. But actually, if I stay calm and really focus on the words coming out of their mouth, there is no reason why I can’t pick out a word or two of what they are saying and have at least an educated guess at what they are asking me.
I have a new found respect for people who move to other countries and can’t speak the language
I don’t want to be one of those arrogant English speakers that moves to a European city and doesn’t make an effort to learn the language. Everyone in Paris speaks English because it is the universally spoken tongue. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make an effort to learn their language. But it’s scary to have moved somewhere where their first language is different to yours and so I have a new found respect for people struggling to get through life in a big city where they don’t speak the language very well.
I had my first night out on my own and l learnt that the worst experiences in life can be your greatest lessons
As a theatre blogger, I was delighted to receive my first invitation to review a show in just my third week in Paris. But I ended up having to go alone and it was tough. I couldn’t find the box office to collect my ticket and had to fumble my way through figuring out what I was supposed to do. I ended up getting in to the theatre twenty minutes after the show start time and sitting on a fold out chair in the middle of the aisle! I almost turned around and went home three times because it was scary and new and I felt extremely vulnerable not knowing what to do but I made it through and ultimately, although it was horrible at the time, I lived to tell the tale and now I have a bit more of an idea what will happen next time.
Nothing starts on time in Paris
In the UK and America, if a show is supposed to start at 8pm then it will start at that time. No one cares if people are still trying to find their seats (that’s their problem for not getting there earlier) but in Paris you can expect a show to start anywhere between fifteen and thirty minutes late (based on the two shows I have seen so far). This isn’t particularly helpful if you have arranged to meet friends after the show for a drink but then again, they probably won’t be on time anyway!
I went to see Le Bodyguard le Musical last weekend with some friends who were visiting. The theatre usher took us to our seats and then held out her hand for a tip! She adamantly declared that she doesn’t get paid by the theatre to do her job and works just for the tips that people give her. Apparently she wasn’t just trying to scam me and this is a real thing in Paris so if you’re coming to the theatre, bring some cash. I only had a 5 euro note and so handed it to her and she walked off without any thought that I might want change so I guess that’s the going rate to be walked ten steps down the aisle when I was perfectly capable of finding my own way to my seat.
The best thing since Sliced bread
The French haven’t cottoned on to the idea of sliced bread yet. You can buy lovely baguettes and fresh loaves from the boulangerie but it will be stale the next day because there are no preservatives in it to make it last longer. So I wish I could just keep a sliced loaf of Hovis in the cupboard for the odd slice of toast but the only sliced bread you can get in the supermarkets is sweetened and looks nothing like soft white bread that you would get in the UK.
Kebabs are acceptable any time
We love a greasy Kebab in the UK after a drunken night out as we stagger home at 2am. But you would never suggest to a work colleague, going for a kebab at lunchtime! But in Paris, Kebabs aren’t seen as dirty little treats or things we find stuck to our faces on Saturday mornings, they are perfectly acceptable to eat at any time of the day!
McDonald’s loyalty card
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the local off-licence gave me a loyalty card (not encouraging irresponsible drinking at all). Well on the same topic of healthy living, this week I got a loyalty card at McDonalds! Yes, I am now collecting points towards my first free triple cheeseburger. I might never leave Paris at this rate!
Take a look at the other things I’ve learnt in my first month in Paris…