Today I am essentially going to be doing a video on… culture shock. Culture shock! Today I am essentially going to be doing a video on culture shock and all the things that shocked me when I came to France. I can hear people outside! It’s a list, again. I mean, lists are helpful when you lose your words all the time and I do! I can’t speak English or French! Why am I here? I don’t know. Okay! I have a very long list; I will now cover them all today. You just saw it! Crap, oh man, you just told the future! Okay, so. Ahem. Culture shock. When I was coming to France, I knew that there was gonna be things that were different but I had an idea of what it would be like yet, even still, coming to France, there were a ton of things that surprised me and also a few things that I’ve realized along the way that are different between American and French culture. One of the first culture shocks that I experienced has to do with something that I kind of expected. Okay, just put yourself in my shoes here. I am on my way to the university for one of the first times and I’m approaching the entrance, but my way is blocked by a huge mass of people just standing in front of the entrance, mingling about, doing nothing, all in black. Are these the other students? Why aren’t they getting in? Do we have class or what? I was really confused. Turns out, the front courtyard is the place where everyone mingles and smokes and talks together but mainly smokes! The air was, like, filled with smoke, and I was not used to it. So here I thought everyone was locked out or waiting to get in, but no, they’re just all blocking the entrance smoking. And I’ll be honest, I’m one who has never liked being around smoke I– I always hold my breath and– I just– I will never smoke in my life. and I heard about the stereotype that all French people smoke …essentially all– a lot of people. A lot of French people smoke, okay? It’s a thing. I don’t know a percentage. Maybe there’s a percentage. I don’t know. A lot. It was just funny to get hit with it right off the bat there at the university. But also, as time has gone by, I’ve actually grown to not hate it as much. as crazy as that is It almost seems more elegant here. I feel like, in the US, it’s seen as something that’s dirty and gross and taboo Yeah, there’s just, like, a bad stigma around it but in France it’s seen as a way to be social and meet people. In fact, I know other foreigners who have specifically bought a lighter even though they don’t smoke just so they can go around and have it like, have it on hand to light other people’s cigarettes and thus enter into conversation with them. If nothing else, I can see that smoking is very important socially in France, and I didn’t understand that before. The second culture shock is one I’ve actually already talked about in another video so I’ll link that if you haven’t seen it. It’s the French “bise”. That! I know it’s a really normal thing for the French but it just makes me feel super, super uncomfortable I mean… ugh! I mean, it seems like a really nice thing, I– It’s odd. Part of me wants to love the bise, and part of me still feels, like, super, super uncomfortable about it. I like it because, in France, you’re expected to do the bise with everyone. If there is a room of twenty people, you are going around the room and you are “fait”-ing — “fait”-ing? In French, it’s “faire la bise”, so… If there are twenty people in the room, you are expected to go around and do the bise with every single person. So I’ve gone to a couple of gatherings with basically completely French people and people you’ve never met will come up to you and the first thing they do is do “la bise” with you and as they’re, like, passing your cheek, they’ll tell you their name and you’re expected to do the same, thing. It’s the worst thing ever and– and I’ve had my fair share of mess-ups like one time I went left and the guy went right and we almost kissed. Another time, early on, I didn’t know for sure if you had to touch cheeks, and so this girl just, like, kinda like leaned in, like she was expecting me to do it — a French girl — and I just kinda went like I, like– I didn’t even make the sound, I didn’t touch her cheek either way like, we did it both ways I felt really awkward because I think I did it wrong and she felt really awkward and it was just awful. But, again, I see the appeal of this. I don’t think we really have an equivalent in the US I mean, there’s hugging, but if you’re meeting someone for the very first time it can be awkward because you don’t know what to do. You don’t know if you should shake their hand– is that too formal? If you hug, is that too informal? There’s like nothing you really can do except for be like, “Hi. Nice to meet you.” Something like that. But in France there is a social conduct for it. There is a rule that you always “fait la bise” any time you’re meeting someone any time you’re greeting someone, any time you’re saying goodbye to someone. It’s just very normal and very expected. So mixed feelings on that. This next culture shock also happened very early on. Certainly not a culture shock I expected to have. It has to do with the supermarket. To start off, French supermarkets are much smaller than their American equivalent. Where I normally go is called “Monoprix”, with an x. Monoprix. But I wouldn’t even call it a supermarket, really because that’s not the main focus it has (it has) all these different things. It has three levels. On the bottom floor is the supermarket area with all the food. You enter on the second floor, what they would call the “rez de chaussée”, and then you go down a flight of steps to get to where all the food is and it’s nice. It’s a little overpriced, but I don’t know if this is because it’s just how Monoprix is or if it’s because I’m in a rich town. I actually just went shopping today. So if you go to Monoprix, you’re either gonna get a lil’ blask basket or a little gray rolly basket. They’re about the same size, but if you’re gonna get heavy stuff, you’ll want the rolly basket. I suppose the rolly one’s a tiny bit bigger. In any case, they’re just little tiny baskets, so you better not get too much. So you’re going around this store; you have your little basket or your little rolly basket. The culture shock occurred when I went to go check out. The whole checking out process has only very recently gotten less stressful for me. So, to start off, when you get up there, you have to unload your basket, which sounds normal, but you have to put the basket at the beginning of the line so while you’re unloading stuff, people are, like, lining up behind you and, like, you’re taking up space, you’re trying to like hold this little basket here and take stuff out and finally, once you get all your crap on the conveyor belt, have to be, like, “Excuse me, excusez-moi, excusez-moi” and like, try and like, push past the line to get this– get this basket back. And if it’s busy, you feel really rushed to do this. Another thing: you have to pay for the plastic bags that you use and you have to tell them how many you want so like, before I even go up to the line, I’ve gotten into this habit of being like — — if I haven’t brought my own bag, of course — I have to think through how much stuff I have and be like, “Okay, I think this is about two bags worth.” Then once you get up to the line, you have to be like, “Je voudrais deux sacs, s’il vous plaît.” and then they’ll charge you for them, of course. To get around this, I usually just bring my own bags. I actually brought them from the United States anyway, though you can buy reusable at Monoprix too. Then, once it’s your turn, you and the cashier exchange greetings and she starts just flying away. She’s just flying. She’s getting everything. She’s checka-check-check-check beep beep boop boop boop and everything is done in, like, five seconds. She gets everything through. Meanwhile, you have to bag everything which, in the United States, you don’t have to bag anything at all. The cashier does it all for you. All you have to do is take it out and put it back in the cart. Eventually I figured it out. You just have to pack while she’s scanning just like frantically trying to keep up with her pace, which I usually can’t but I’m close! I’m getting there. so then at that point you have to pay, of course. so thankfully, even though this culture shock used to be quite stressful for me, I’ve gotten to a point where I’m much more comfortable with it. Like I said, I went to the supermarket just today,and it went totally fine. It was actually really awesome. I actually had a really good experience today because there was this nice woman; she, like, gave me her spot in line after I had offered it to her and then she was telling me, “I have more stuff than you.” It was really — she was a really nice French person and then my cashier that I had, too, was also really nice and smiled at me which I’m always happy when French people smile at me ’cause they don’t smile as much. Speaking of smiling, that’s another thing I’ll talk about. I am naturally quite smiley, like whenever I talk I am, like, always smiling and laughing but here in France they don’t do that. I was actually kinda nervous about coming here because I was nervous that they would all think I was weird because I smiled so much. It’s not like they never smile. They just don’t smile at people they don’t know. so like, it’s not like everyone walks around with this face and it might be different, like, based on where you are, like I’m in a relatively small-ish town, so maybe they’re a little less uptight but they don’t smile as much, in general. It’s actually– No! How dare. How. Dare. I have to wait for my camera — for my phone to recharge.