Things I have noticed lately:
1. The French seriously tend to smell. I know that its a stereotype, but stereotypes are based on fact, and their smell is no joke. I swear France has a stench. It consists of body oder, cigarettes, old pee, and more old body oder. When I go to a lecture, I can smell it. When I am on the metro, I can smell it. Walking down the street I can sometimes smell it. When I am in the computer lab, I can smell it on the chair from the person who sat there before me. Its really very lovely. Especially on hot days.
2. “American” things. The French are really funny because they label things American and I have no idea why. For example, there are a few sandwiches at the cafeteria that are “American.” I want to know what makes them different from the French sandwiches! They also have something called “American Sauce” which as an American born and raised, I have never seen any American use in my entire life. So it beats me as to why it gets labeled “American.” I know there are some other examples of “American” things but those are the only ones that come to mind right now.
3. France is apparently light-years ahead of the States in fashion, but with everything else, it just seems incredibly behind.
The L’Oréal hairspray that I bought today looks like it was made in the 80s and then saved to sell in France 30 years later. It also smells like an old lady, but I’m not going to lie, I kinda like it…it’s comforting or something lol. Also, sidenote, my conditioner smells EXACTLY like that pink bubblegum medicine that I was always prescribed as a kid. Don’t even pretend to not know what I’m talking about, lol you have to know the stuff. Anyway, back to the subject at hand, everything is hella retro here, but not in an ironic or intentional way.
4. Organization = Lack thereof. OMG for a country of people that can be so particular about their rules, they have some of the least logical systems of doing anything and everything. In the grocery store, the conditioner, shampoo, body wash and hand soap are all in different aisles and the bureaucracy in this country is absolutely ridiculous. I could go on and on and on with examples for this one, but I’ll restrain myself.
5. Respect. I always thought that young people in the US showed their elders respect, although in maybe a casual way, however the French blow us out of the water on this one. I was in line at the Carrefour (have you noticed that all my examples come from the Carrefour? lol I promise that I do do things other than grocery shopping) and there was a boy behind me in line. After him was an older woman, maybe 65ish but claiming her age, if you know what I mean. Anyway she asked the boy behind me to reach up and grab her a specific increment of the “top-up” phone cards for cell phones from the turnstile by the register. Whatever she wanted though wasn’t there, so after verifying what she wanted, they boy behind me in line went to a different part of the store and grabbed her what she wanted. Can you believe that? This woman wasn’t even that old or decrepit, she should have been able to do that herself. I just found it very interesting and kind of refreshing but kind of irritating all at the same time. I guess the verdict is conflicted.
6. French women do not appear to sweat or even get hot. Today was really sunny and so on my way to a lecture I began to sweat under my scarf. I got to the lecture hall where there are 100+ students and I became even hotter due to all the people in a smallish room. I took my scarf off and looked around me noticing all these women in sweaters and layers and none of them appeared to be hot let alone sweating. Hmmm.
7. Glasses are way more common here. My Buddy Holly/ Clark Kent -esque glasses aren’t really that unique, they are kinda sorta common. They actually make me look a little more French. I think I may actually buy some frames here. There appear to be more interesting options here than in the US.
8. Fabulous Graffiti and Bathroom Poetry. Obviously some of it sucks, like the gang shit that people scribble around on the sides of historical buildings, but some of it is totally rad. In St. Malo I even saw some Charlie Chaplin graffiti.
Those are enough observations for now I think. Although I am sure I will have too many to count by next year.