20 signs you're becoming Parisian {an expat's assimilation}

Assimilating is challenging and can either be a lot of fun or make you miserable. I’ve done it a couple times and fallen into both camps on different days.

France is particular - the French consider themselves a world apart from their “anglo-saxon” neighbours. It is a country so steeped in its own unique history, language and tradition that it can force you to view assimilation two ways. You can say, to hell with this because you will always be an outsider - always. It is a country of inexplicable paradoxes, customs and protocols which you will never completely understand, unless you are French. Or you can embrace it all and become a sponge. You still won’t understand the reasoning behind said customs but you just go with it. The French love this and will applaud your tenacity.

I’ve done the latter but that's not to say I get every aspect of French culture. It’s an exercise in exploration and levity. Other expats I've known refuse on principle to get too far into the culture or the language - whatever works, right? But I’ve noticed that regardless of your approach, there are some tell tale signs that you’ve become just a little more comfortable in your {pretty incredible} surroundings...

(photo credit @adampartridge)

1. Dinner begins with a glass of champagne. This is completely normal and not at all pretentious.

2. You drink your coffee in one spot, standing at a bar or sitting at a table. People who walk around with giant pails of coffee are aggravating, hazardous and to be avoided at all costs.

3. You will say hello to strangers but refuse to engage them in small talk, because, really you don’t care, they don’t care, and you’re both ok with that.

4. Second-hand smoke is now a part of your life.

5. Eating salad out of Tupperware at your desk is taboo. Instead, you now devote a minimum of 90 minutes to a three course lunch.

6. You step in “merde” at least once a quarter and you expect it; it's part of living in this beautiful city!

7. If you’re a man, you may start wearing a scarf, all year round. If you’re a woman, you stop blow-drying your hair and your face is now a blank canvas, save a bright red lipstick and oversized sunglasses - rain or shine.

8. Caring about carbs is a thing of the past and it is so liberating!

9. You do not smile at strangers and strangers who smile at you are not to be trusted.

10. You shop exclusively on market days, only buy products from France (never Spain!) and don't leave without a bouquet of flowers.

11. It is completely acceptable to argue a point with a stranger - it could become heated and that’s ok too. You will part ways, unaffected, muttering under your breath in 5 to 10 minutes.

12. You do not queue, it’s everyone for themselves. Add to this, you don’t bat an eyelash when elderly French women brazenly cut in line waving bills in faux confusion.

13. You now own a scooter because the metro is for tourists and suckers.

14. Beef is best enjoyed bloody and steak tartare is one of your favourite entrées.

15. You know the first answer to any request is ‘non’ but that if you stick around for long enough, you will eventually wear out your French adversary and get what you want.

16. You inexplicably say “oh, la, la” in reaction to anything good, bad or surprising.

17. You need to get out of Paris every 4 months to maintain your sanity but you love coming home.

18. Ideally you meet for dinner at 9pm. Your earliest dinner reservations are for 8pm and anyone wanting to meet before is questionable company, pregnant or under the age of 12.

19. You become a pro at avoiding individuals gesturing wildly with cigarettes in hand on narrow sidewalks.

20. You accept it as indisputable fact that no one makes better wine, cheese, pastries, handbags or lingerie than the French.

#France #Paris #culture #Parisian #travel #expat