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October 4, 2012

Local Voices From Around the Globe: Childhood dream comes true with some twists

Unless you have ever personally experienced another culture at some point in your life, it’s hard to imagine how different two cultures can be.

Ever since I was a little girl, I had always dreamed of traveling to France. When I was given the chance to experience it firsthand however, I never could have imagined that I would find so many, often comical, differences between the two cultures. From the moment I landed in Paris, I knew that my childhood dream was soon going to have a few exciting twists when I realized how much can change with just a seven-hour plane ride.

The day I arrived in France, I soon realized that I didn’t even know how to do the little things here. I could only laugh at myself when I had to ask my host family how the lights work, how to shut the front door properly or even turn the shower on. I left the United States feeling like such an adult, but found myself about 15 years younger as soon as I landed in France. That was probably the hardest thing of all.

So many little things that you could never imagine are just done differently here. Take for example, going to the grocery store. First of all, everything in France is so much smaller than it is in the U.S. Back home, I am a frequent shopper in BJ’s Wholesale Club where you can buy almost any item in packs of one million. I couldn’t help but laugh when my host mother put the “family sized” bag of chips in the shopping cart, as it was the size of a typical “snack sized” bag in the states. I can only imagine how I looked to the French shoppers as I tried to push a French shopping cart for the first time. While the carts in the United States simply move forward and backward, the shopping carts in France are made to move any way they please. I found myself sliding all over the floor, knocking into displays just trying to get my family’s groceries safely to the car.

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