My study abroad program in Paris has lived up to every one of my expectations in terms of art: the city is overflowing with creativity, intellectual stimulation and subtle beauty. After landing, and upon arriving at the CEA Paris Center, I was immediately struck by the seamless relationship between old and new all throughout the city – ancient art in the middle of traffic circles and graffiti on historic architecture. Of course, I was nervous to be starting a new chapter in my life, but I felt welcome by the warm-toned, monochromatic facades and familiar city lifestyle.
There are, however, some cultural differences that have reminded me that I’m definitely “not in Kansas anymore!”
Parisians savor mealtimes. On this side of the world, people prioritize their company as much as the quality of the food. Even if you are dining alone, you are meant to enjoy the experience of your meal. I may or may not have learned the hard way that pulling out a laptop or notebook in a cafe is a huge faux pas. Instead, it is common to find students spending time in libraries. In fact, later this week, I’m headed to the BPI library within the famous modern art museum, the Centre Pompidou.
Food here is much fresher, and is usually bought on a daily basis rather than stocking up once a week. In many supermarkets, plastic bags cost extra, so it is best to come prepared with your own sustainable accessory: a tote bag. These are both a fashion statement and a lifestyle here in Paris.
And speaking of fashion: Parisians know how to layer. Even in warm weather, Parisians rarely show their shoulders and knees in one outfit. Be prepared for the day by packing your tote bag with a scarf or jacket, and umbrella, just in case.
All in all, the transition into my host country is a constant learning process, but I’m enjoying the view.
Abigail Haley is the Fall 2018 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Ithaca College.