Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You mean the honeymoon has to end?

I'm sorry I've been a little behind on posting lately - things have gotten a little hectic around here what with real classes starting and all that fun stuff. I think I have also officially entered the second phase of culture shock. Before I left for Paris, whenever I heard the study abroad counselors or my French professors talk about culture shock phases my only thought was, yeah, sure, but how can you turn something so personal and abstract into a simple formula? There's no way everyone experiences things that way.


After being here for a little more than a month, I am a believer. Here's a brief description of how I've been feeling lately, courtesy of Wikipedia:

After the end of the "Honeymoon Phase," when every new experience is amazing and life is just generally peachy (oh Honeymoon Phase, where have you gone? you were so much fun!), one moves into the "Negotiation Phase." During this time, "differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety. One may long for food the way it is prepared in one's native country, may find the pace of life too fast or slow, may find the people's habits annoying, disgusting, irritating, etc. This phase is often marked by mood swings caused by minor issues or without apparent reason. This is where excitement turns to disappointment and more and more differences start to occur. Depression is not uncommon."  Lovely.

As I was reading this the other day - a particularly blah day when I was in desperate need of confirmation that I am not in fact going crazy - in my head I was saying, Yes! Yes! Mood swings without apparent reason? Why, I'm having one this very minute, how did you know? And you're right, I do miss food the way it's prepared in my native country! (Seriously, I would kill for a real cheeseburger right now. Ooh, better yet, really spicy tacos with lots of guacamole. Or pancakes and bacon with maple syrup...ok, stopping now.)

So as I await the third and final phase, "Adjustment" (the existence of which I am not yet entirely convinced, by the way), I am trying to take things one day at a time. And on those days when nothing is going right, it helps to focus on the little things that I love about Paris. Such as this lovely creation, the chausson aux pommes, which literally means "apple slipper" but is otherwise known as heaven wrapped in pastry dough:

And this stays just between you and me, but for the really, really bad days there's always Starbucks. I know, I know, but sometimes a little bit of home is the only thing that can beat the culture shock blues.

Goodness, that was a lot of rambling, wasn't it? If you've made it all the way to the end of this post I'd like to congratulate you on your perseverance. Hopefully you aren't bored to tears, and if you are, you have my permission to stop reading this and go do something more interesting. Really.


  1. This blog is awesome! Promise you'll put pictures of Paris, and Post! I'm a smallpart french in real life, so I always go there every year, this year i'm going to Lezay!


    Check out my blog! It'll bore you to tears, but you promise YOUR blog would, and it didn't, so no garantee on mine!

    Love the blog


  2. Simple, human and beautiful. I like your blog.
    All my very best,

  3. At least you haven't resorted to eating at McDonald's!! Then I would really be worried about you (instead of just a little bit worried) :-) Maybe it would help to have the Gilmore Girls visit you in Paris? Oyi, with the poodles already!! Missing you much! Votre mere.

  4. Hi Ali,
    I can absolutely relate to your feelings because I have gone through the same thing whenever I have moved to a new place (and that was always within the States!). However, these feelings of loneliness have never lasted too long and usually required getting closer to (the right) people you know there and getting in a routine. Was there an adjustment period when you started College? I promise that by the end of this experience things will be good and you'll loook back on this a special period of your life. The downside is that when you return to the States you will experience a minor readjustment to our boorish American ways.
    Take care,