The Honeymoon Phase

When I arrived, a staff member told me about something called the “honeymoon phase”. The first few weeks would feel like a vacation, and the city would still be bright and exciting. And, I’ll admit, I definitely fell for the novelty. Having my own apartment only one metro stop away from all the brilliant artworks and architecture and food I’ve always wanted to see and experience has been a blessing. Everyday I wake up and take the train over to a museum or bakery, just to make every second count.

I’m not saying that I haven’t been anxious. My first few nights felt like a simulation. It still feels like there’s a camera man around the corner, waiting to tell me I’ve been pranked. I like my apartment and being by myself, but when the windows are closed I forget that I’m studying abroad. I think the first culture shock definitely came when I went to the grocery store. The Monoprix has the same vibe as a Target does, but every single product is in French. I couldn’t really read a lot of the labels, so I guessed on a lot of the stuff I would need. Not to mention I never cooked an actual meal by myself before that day. I felt very lonely and helpless, and there was nothing I could do.

It was also extremely hard to adjust to the culture. In Southern culture, everyone is friendly to everyone. If you don’t make polite conversation in the Publix check-out line, you’re considered rude. But here, you can’t really interact with anyone unless you know them. Even making eye-contact on the metro is considered creepy. There’s a common misconception that French people are mean, but truthfully they just don’t want to interact with strangers. And once I got used to it, it was really nice not having to make painful small talk every time I sat next to someone or stood with them in line. Everyone is in their own world here, including me.

Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase. I may know the metro like the back of my hand, but I still haven’t explored much by myself. And today I’m happy, yesterday I was happy, but this bubble could pop at any moment. Everyday I struggle, and everyday I adjust. It’s all about making the most of it, and taking one day at a time. And when it gets really rough, knowing that I’m in Paris to learn and grow and experience as much as I can, should be enough to get me to the next day.