What are the first images that one thinks when someone says “Paris” (Pronounced Pear-E en français (note: that is not the phonetics translation)). Bien sûr (of course), one thinks of the Eiffel Tour, observing the vast collections of art, having a picnic by the Seine, taking vast walks through gardens blooming of fleurs (flowers), and kissing a loved one (or stranger pourquoi pas) in the streets.
La réalité: Paris is not as luxurious and plushy as one would think. C’est comme une autre grande ville (it’s like another big city). There’s dirt in the streets: tons of cigarettes litter the sidewalks of cafés from people smoking, the occasional dog poo, and actual dirt one would find on a baseball field from dry vacant lots that covers you when the wind blows. Beaucoup des touristes (Many tourists), which means it’s crowded everywhere. And since I’m not from a big city and a different country, there’s a lot of things I’ve gotten used to (my walking pace is a lot faster here than in the south, haha!)
But that’s the reality, and to be honest, I’m not complaining. I knew a little bit of this (and was definitely warned) before coming here. The reason I chose Paris was to learn about the culture (not only French but Parisien), live in a big city (something I have not done yet until now), and learn about la capitale (some of the background history).
The reason I bring up this reality of Paris is because it’s interesting how people view Paris from a cultural perspective. In class we read an article about how many people feel an extreme sense of culture shock when visiting Paris because it is not how they envisioned the city of lights. This in particular is true for the Japanese culture. Apparently, because there are so many cultural differences between the French and the Japanese, many become extremely depressed during their visit. I believe all cultures go through this when they enter any country but it’s different when you’re from a background that is extremely opposite. I say this because it’s not true, the French (or Parisiens) do not hate Americans. When I meet someone they can easily tell by my accent that I’m from somewhere else and are delighted to hear me say I’m from les États-Unis (that’s when they start practicing their English haha). I have only been given disrespectful looks at a café or touristy spot only because there are many tourists here (and I’m sure the tourists like to assume that everyone in Europe can speak their language or don’t even attempt to speak French).
What do I think of Paris? I’m beginning to understand that it is a melting pot. There are many foreign exchange students, people working for embassies, and many visitors from around the world. I have only been to one museum because I prefer the free galleries of graffiti paint on street corners and vans that decorate les rues et les boulevards. There’s a lot of culture and many exhibitions that cater to everyone, Paris makes sure the youth and students can attend the museums and galleries for free until they are 25. People are cultured in the arts and knowledgeable of their city. Like every city, it is expensive, but until you find those loop holes and local joints, it’s manageable. And unlike most cities in America, they have tons of little parks and green spaces in every arrondisement…with free wifi! The food…can actually be a hit or miss haha. But when it is good, it’s dangerously good.
Do I like it here? YES! (: However, am I drinking champagne by the Eiffel Tour, stuffing myself with delicious crepes, or receiving random roses from flirtatious guys? Well…maybe that’s for another blog post 😉 just kidding! Vivre la vie qui est libre! Faites-la l’espace où tu veux rester!