Okay so I know its been a little while since my last post! what can I say, its been pretty crazy since I got here… getting used to an entirely different academic and bureaucratic system, adjusting to weather and making new friends. I thinks thats possibly my favourite thing about exchange so far, the people you meet from different corners of the globe, different cultures and languages makes it so much more interesting.
I’ve been trying to really soak up Parisian life, taking in the Louvre on rainy days, hanging out in cafes and hitting the cozy Irish pubs when the snow hits… and the snow has been hitting VERY hard.. especially weird when speaking to friends and family back home in Australia while its 40+ degrees, and I’m looking out my window at a snow storm..
A few things i have noticed about Paris ;
They are VERY stylish:
its no wonder that Chanel, Dior and Louise Vuitton are all based in Paris.. people here wear a lot of black and neutral tones. Where at home I am quite happy to adopt the uni student uniform and rock up to an early morning class in trackies, ugg boots- and occasionally pyjamas- i’m not sure I would dare here- the typical attire just for class being sleek jeans and chinos, trendy nikes and chic boots, matched with oversize sweaters, clasp purses and some pretty fantastic coats and scarves. EVERY day is an occasion here… and i must admit, I quite like it.
Cold Weather simply means another jumper:
They are not deterred by the weather AT ALL! at home anything below 0 and you’ve got a hell of a job getting me to leave the house. life here continues but with a few extra layers, people are still out at the clubs and pubs, shopping and eating out on the streets. I find it really odd, in australia everything simply shuts down and people dont leave the house unless they HAVE to … Parisians really do make the most of it…
Smoking is a cultural MUST.
My theory is that its so freaking cold most of the year that smoking offers a form of warmth for the hands..Clusters of people stand outside buildings lighters in hand, chatting a blowing smoke tails into the air. In reality It seems to have more to do with the general attitude of life here. Parisians and perhaps the French in general have a decadent and self indulgent nature… they want chocolate they eat the gaddamn chocolate and they dont feel bad about it… Temptation isnt seen as so much of a sin here as an inclusion to everyday life.
Living in Paris Breeds ‘Snootiness’
There is a HUGE population of homeless people and children in Paris. When i first arrived i could not believe how many people were sleeping in train stations and over heat vents on the street- maybe its partially ignorance, or that I haven’t seen this level of disadvantage in Australia, in any case its a pretty profound thing to see. the first day i was here I had little homeless children of about 3-4 coming up to me begging for money. I found it so heartbreaking. saddly have become quite used to it, everyone says ‘you give them money they will continue to harass you’ and that ‘many of them really have homes but beg as a way to make money’, I’m ashamed to say I have found myself doing as the french do and ignoring them. Dont get me wrong, it breaks my heart to see the situation that these people are in- but it is just a part of life here, and if you were to feel sad for every disadvantaged person you see, you would never get on with life here, its just everywhere. Maybe this is where the famous ‘snobbish’ french attitude comes from; they ignore the things they would rather not see…
On a lighter note…
Paris is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, I live just down the street from ‘little middle east’ where they have Halal stores and little lebanese restaurants making the best couscous! Only a few streets over is a hub of chinese, japanese and indian stores… Its one of the appealing things about Paris is that there is always something different to discover just around the corner or down an alley way. you just have to go for a wonder and see where you end up… although in my case it has generally meant ending up in a store drooling over a pair of shoes..