Life in France – November Update
Well hello there!
I took an unintentional 3 week break from my blog. Aside from all the political mess, I also accidentally broke my laptop and have had limited access to computers!
In my apartment, the WiFi is stronger closer to the window. Two weekends ago I set up my computer on the floor by the window to lesson plan, because sometimes if I am sitting on my bed the internet will cut out randomly. I was cooking a late lunch, so I figured I could work while boiling the water. Another instance of me failing at adulthood… I forgot that I had water in the pot already and went to go fill the pot up. In doing so, the water I was previously unaware of splashed out and poured all over my open laptop. GENIUS, Shelby!
Initially, it didn’t seem so bad. I dried it off with a towel and it turned back on. After it proceeded to shut off and not charge or turn on, the devastation ensued. Of course, I hadn’t prepared at all for my lessons that week. In France, next to nothing is open on Sundays so I couldn’t go anywhere to try to use a computer. Cut to me preparing lessons by researching US politics and trying to draft worksheets on my phone until about 1am.
I didn’t have enough rice to try to dry out my laptop, so I tried to just lay it out over a towel. No dice. After a week of trial and error, I finally went out and bought rice. In this experience, I have learned that putting technology that has gotten wet into bags of rice to try to dry it out must be an American concept. My coworkers were all like “you did what?!” Even my friends from other European countries had never heard of this and naturally thought I was a crazy person. But you know what, after several days in a brown paper bag of uncooked rice, my laptop is FINALLY working again!
Adjustments to France
Having done two study abroads in France, I was fairly accustomed to some of the cultural differences here already. That being said, there are several things that I still find very hard to get used to as an American. My students always ask if I prefer living here or in the United States. I truly don’t have an actual preference, there are just pros and cons to each. Of course my family is in the US, so that is one advantage that France will never have. Also, I am more accustomed to the norms of where I grew up. The way of life that I am used to in the states isn’t necessarily better or worse than that of France, but I am more comfortable with certain American norms because that is what I know.
Different, not weird.
I always try to remind myself “different, not weird” when I am experiencing something that feels odd to me. When a stranger stands on the step directly behind me on the escalator, rather than leaving a step in between, I have to remind myself that my standards of personal space are not the norm here. I love the “bise” (kissing each other on each cheek to greet/say goodbye) but I am completely at a loss for knowing when I should do this and when I should not. When I say hello or goodbye to someone, I am constantly trying to read their body language to see if I am supposed to be leaning in for bisous or not!
Bathrooms in France are such an oddity to me. In Paris, bathrooms are co-ed a lot of the time. Especially in bars. This I am well accustomed to from my previous studies. I find it amusing, but I am fairly used to it and can understand that space is limited in these old buildings. What baffles me more is when bathrooms have windows and the fact that toilets are always separate from the sink/shower. As far as the toilets being separate, I do think this is fairly practical. For anyone that has grown up with siblings, it can be quite a catastrophe if you need to relieve yourself when your brother/sister is taking a 20 minute shower. This completely eliminates that issue! But my germaphobe half is constantly thinking about all the door knobs being used before hands are washed.
At my school, the high school bathrooms have huge windows looking into them! I find this extra awkward considering the boys use a urinal, and you can easily see them all standing there!! I could be wrong, but never in my recollection have I ever seen or used a bathroom in the states where you can see inside. Initially, I thought it might have just been a fluke at my school, but I went to training at another high school and it had the same thing! Maybe they are worried the kids are doing drugs in there or something? Who knows!
My overall conclusion is that as Americans, we don’t like to touch anyone and we are much more private. Of course, this is a huge generalization, but you get my drift. I also find that capitalism and consumerism is deeply ingrained in me. Although I understand that for the french Sunday is a day of rest, I have a hard time accepting this. From my mindset, I can’t understand a business completely shutting down for one or two days per week! This is great for the employees and business owners, but in my mind I’m so focused on the customer. What if I want a haircut? What if I need groceries? Tant pis!
I’ve mostly reached the point of amusement when things are different for me. I have also accepted my American-ness and that I don’t blend in 9 times out of 10. 😀 Why not embrace it? Haha
Now that I have a functioning laptop once again, I’ll be writing tons more.
I’m a month behind in regards to my travels!
Different not weird….I like it! Happy to hear from you again Shelby. Can’t wait to hear more now that you have ypur computer back. 😊