Learning from Paris

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Spending six months working abroad was such a formative experience, and I inevitably learnt so much about both the French and myself.

France

Parisian Fashion

One thing I didn’t expect was how conservative the Parisian fashion is in summer. Whenever I walked around in short skirts/playsuits (in 38 degrees heat might I add) I would get strange looks and a lot of catcalls, which brings me nicely to my next point.

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This particular outfit got a lot of strange looks

Street Harassment

Street harassment is a much bigger problem across the channel, men would approach me and say disgusting things, or make crude noises at me as I walked past. One particularly horrendous episode was when I was sitting by the Seine with my friend one evening, enjoying a nice moment and these two men came and sat next to us. They proceeded to pester and harass us, at one point saying to me “I respect you have a boyfriend, but will you please come and have sex with me?” like, no?!?!

Parisian Slang

On a more positive note, I learnt a lot of French/Parisian slang! I can’t believe I didn’t know any of these when I first arrived, they are used all the time in everyday conversation! Here are the most common ones:

  • Du coup : so/therefore (used all the time- literally almost every sentence)
  • Mec : guy
  • Meuf : woman
  • Bosser : to work
  • Bouffer : to eat

Personal

Extrovert

One of the main things I learnt about myself is how much of an extrovert I am- I couldn’t stand being alone for more than a day. I get so much energy from other people. It’s actually quite frustrating that I have to rely on other people wanting to meet up with me to be happy and satisfied, but I guess it’s just one of those things.

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need people constantly around me lol

Confidence

Because I discovered how much of an extrovert I was, I realised that I needed to be proactive and organise meeting up with people- often people I had not met before. This taught me to be more confident, and not worry about whether they thought I was too keen or whatever. I discovered how much fun it is to meet people and find out about their lives.

Coping with mishaps

I encountered many mishaps and difficulties, often coming across unpleasant people and having to learn how to cope with their rude comments. For example, a man in a shop telling me that I am very bad at French, and another guy at a trade show aggressively asking to speak to someone “Who can actually speak French”. These both hit a nerve with my language insecurities but I learnt not to take people’s words to heart. They are just random strangers, I do not need to take any notice of their words.


Overall, I learnt a lot from the six months, maturing and growing as a person, understanding myself better and learning how to cope in new and unpleasant situations. I don’t regret a thing, the good times created some amazing memories, and the bad times some hilarious stories.

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3 thoughts on “Learning from Paris

  1. It’s amazing how much slang you pick up living in the country – I’ve noticed that the French seem to shorten a lot of their words, like “colocataire” becomes “coloc”, “appartement” becomes “appart”, and of course all the verlan/ argot that creeps into conversations! I think the conservative dress sense is a French thing – when I arrived in Lyon in late August there was a bit of a heatwave going on and I wore shorts all the time, but most people were wearing jeans or longer skirts. They also seem to go for a more muted colour palette on the whole, which I find to be a bit of a mixture of chic and drab!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yeah they do that all the time, even “petit déjeuner” to “petit dej”! And yeah the verlan will forever confuse me haha. Yeah they were wearing jeans in 38 degrees heat it was so strange, hoping the Italian dress sense is a little less conservative- not sure if it’s a French or European thing though.. Yeah I also found their fashion very casual, but at the same time obviously carefully put together, never quite mastered it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, that one always pops up! I have a feeling it’s a European thing… or at least, I remember being in Spain on holiday and locals were wearing skinny jeans in 40 degree heat! I would have melted wearing jeans in that heat. Their dress sense is like an art form, and one that’s almost impossible to master!

        Liked by 1 person

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