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Immediately upon leaving Paris, the changes began to make themselves known. Things I hadn't seen for a solid week began to creep in.

Brick House
First, was the scantily clad woman in the airport. She was an American, traveling home. She was boisterous and was "lettin' it all hang out". Parisians were rather well covered and it smacked me in the face as...trashy. I don't know that I would have noticed at all if I hadn't been surrounded by modesty for a week.

American airports are flat out gross compared with London, Munich, and Paris airports. Eww. But the bathroom in particular, upon landing in the States was an unpleasant surprise. In Paris, the toilets had buttons that you push to flush them. The buttons were in different shapes and locations, but they were all buttons. In my first U.S. bathroom, I was reminded of the American love of auto-flush toilets. And like always, they like to automatically flush while you are in the middle of using them. Twice. Wet rear end...twice. And then, when I actually was finished using it, the automatic flush didn't feel it was necessary to work anymore. Welcome home.

This was my first flying experience in 16 years. Hitting the TSA cattle sorting department was intimidating. It was not well lit and everyone was grumpy. There were a lot of people and it was hard to hear instructions. There were no signs to clearly tell me where to go or what to do. I tried watching the people in front of me to see what they were doing, but many were as confused as I was. I kept thinking of the mailroom in the movie Elf.
I was reeeeally dreading the security of Munich, London, and Paris. However, those airports were all a breeze. Everyone was extremely kind, details were clearly labeled, and I did not in any way feel demeaned or disrespected. I felt a thousand times safer because of the use of actual humanity.

Which brings me to....

Paris has a reputation of being rude. I may have had a unique experience with it, but I doubt it. I found it to be very friendly and the manners were impeccable. I well imagine though that they would be miffed when in contact with rude Americans. I can honestly see why WE have such obnoxious reputations with THEM. Not that the majority of Americans are rude, but it's there and you know how easy to stereotype.

In Paris, everyone greets you with "Bonjour!" If they bump you, they say, "Pardon!" When you step into a shop in America, it is assumed that some salesperson will greet you, but it is not required to answer back. They're just doing their job; trying to make a sale. We're not bonding into a new relationship together, so there isn't much effort at acknowledgement unless you require help looking for something. In Paris, the salesperson greets you because you have just entered their place of business. It is very likely THEIR place of business. They are welcoming you as if welcoming you into their home. Can you imagine sitting at home and having a guest walk in without acknowledging you or returning your 'hello'? Now, can you imagine why Parisians might stereotype Americans as rude?

On my return trip home, I had people thumping me in the head, pushing me into walls, and stepping on my feet without a "pardon" in sight. I sat in the back of a plane, surrounded by "good ol' boys" who didn't acknowledge me, but had loud conversations with one another about which was their favorite Tool Time Girl. I've never made much use of my headphones before, but I promptly found something else to listen to.

This one is just crazy to me. I don't know how they do it seems to be instinctively understood by Parisians, but somehow the noise level in Paris was at a general hum. At a restaurant at home, I was overwhelmed with sound. The television was blaring and everyone wanted to be heard above the din. Noise was everywhere. In London, I remember loving a noisy pub. It was all a general background noise. In Paris, it was peaceful. No television. No one checking a mobile phone. They just seemed more THERE. In the moment. The one place that I found noisy was Notre Dame, but that was because it was filled with tourists, busy ignoring the "Please Be Silent" notices.

I wouldn't fit in long at all, but I did appreciate the peacefulness.

Don't get me wrong. I love my country. And I'm not a snob. I don't think. These aren't things I would have thought twice about before my trip. But they are things that I found interesting, so I wanted to share.

And of all the transitional differences I encountered, falling asleep in my own fabulous bed was the best. It is so good to be home!


  1. I remember that about coming home after three years in Germany, too. It all seemed so noisy, dirty, and rushed here.

  2. Rushed! Yes, I forgot to cover the difference in pace! We seem to have either Mosey or Rush. In Paris and in London, everyone just seemed....purposeful? A nice, happy in-between.

    From my brief 3 hours in Munich, I can imagine things did seem dirty to you! I have never seen anyplace so clean!!!! It was beautiful!


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