A blog post from my Erasmus days that nearly (not quite but it’ll do for now) sums up my experience:
Weeks have passed and I find myself slowly settling into the Parisian way of life. That entails stuffing myself with all kinds of cheese, being indifferent to the sauna temperature and funky smells you usually get in the metro, switching lines like a pro, getting used to walking around (a lot) minding your own business… as elsewhere.
But I still cannot for the life of me suss out the French.
In my first three weeks, I have had the friendliest exchanges you’d least expect from Parisians, mostly are from shop owners who never fail to greet you on your way in and out. Standard customer service, not quite. For some reason, there’s a far more genuine approach here that you’d be fooled into thinking the French are really a lovely bunch of a race. Which may be true, only there are instances when you’d believe quite the opposite. Whilst they’re really lovely at the bakery, the university on the other hand, is an entirely different jungle. I’ve had a lot of conversations with Erasmus people regarding this, as we can’t help but notice how the French students don’t give a shit about anything outside France. It’s actually impossible to make friends with the locals when 1) they don’t even bother asking your name despite being sat next to them every Tuesday for three weeks 2) your incessant asking bordering on annoying can only be followed by short responses…too many hints I’ve given, but they just don’t care. It takes a lot of effort on our part, and we’re very much willing to persist, but most won’t even meet us halfway. Shy, cautious, downright rude, I don’t know. I can’t really, and I don’t want to ever join that hate club. It’s weird. One day I agree to that played out statement “The French are so rude”, the next it’s all a myth.
But whatevz. Paris, you’re still a sight to behold.