Tuesday, June 23, 2015

10 Habits I Kicked in Paris

10 habits I kicked in Paris text on large French wooden door

It's inevitable when you move somewhere new that your habits will change and you will take on a bit of the personality of your new home. But moving to Paris, France has had more of an impact on me than I would have imagined. It's taken me a while to recognize them, since some have come on gradually and others I didn't realize were habits until someone pointed them out. Here are the 10 habits I kicked since moving to the City of Lights.

1. Buying fast food.
I know, I know, this is one you would probably expect. Even before I came here, if I went to fast food joints, I usually tried to go for a healthier option. But now when you are surrounded with fresh markets and storefronts overflowing with fresh produce, a grease-soaked burger and fries lose all appeal. I have definitely joined team "non-processed."

2. Chewing gum. I didn't realize how very American this habit looks until I noticed only American tourists are the ones here chewing gum. And to be honest, I didn't even mean to kick this habit; I really blame it on my brand loyalty to Orbit gum, which is hard to find in France. A few months of being off the chew, and I didn't miss it. That and being told how disgusting it looks when a girl resembles a cow chewing her cud. Oh, you honest French people....

3. Snacking.
In Paris, snacking is for les enfants. Adults limit themselves to three meals a day, and maybe an espresso or two to tide them over. This is still hard for my American brain (or stomach) to understand, but since my job is to watch children, I try not to be mistaken for one by partaking in the gouter (the official name for the children's afternoon snack in France).

4. Wearing sweats in public.
There used to be days when I would roll into a supermarket sporting the season's latest look of lazy-and-didn't-feel-like-changing. But when everyone else dresses to respect both themselves and others, it makes you feel like a slob. A basic rule of thumb is, if you would sleep in it, then don't leave the house in your PJs.

5. Smiling at strangers
How I knew I had made the transition from small town Midwest girl to a cold, aloof Parisienne: when an fresh-faced teenager American tourist walked by and proffered one of those starry-eyed smiles only Paris can cultivate. And I wrinkled my nose and thought, Why are you smiling at me? There's nothing to happy about. You don't know me. I hope this is not a lasting impression, since I love smiling! But now I'm more a fan of smiling for a reason.

6. Leaving room between cars while driving.
I used to be so crazy about leaving that one car's length between cars that you learn about in drivers ed. Now if there is any inching room, I'm liable to lay the horn on you. Because free real estate is lacking in Europe, and you just cost me an extra 20 minutes in traffic. Besides, everyone drives like that here.

7. Driving at all.
With Paris' fantastic metro system, bus system, shared bike system, and completely walkable layout, who thinks of driving anymore. The traffic, the cost of parking, the insurance. Living in Europe has completely revolutionized how I look at getting from point A to point B, and let me tell you, none of it involves the pride of car ownership.

8. Caring about salmonella.
When the grocery stores leave eggs and milk on the shelves, and last night's dinner could be sitting out for a few days, you realize food poisoning isn't really a big deal anymore. Besides, a stomach flu may be the only thing standing between you and your goal weight. (Kidding! Kind of...)

9. Being loud in public
Seriously, my fellow Americans, we are loud to begin with in the States. But set us next to the docile murmur of the French language, and we are absolutely earsplitting. If you can hear someone two cars away on the metro, they are hands down American. I love us, I really do. But seriously, shut up. You are setting yourself up to be pick-pocketed or worse. And plus, it's just not very considerate.

10. Styling my hair.
Of course, I gotta be a girl for a moment and ring in on this miracle of miracles. Thank God for the French blasé attitude toward hair, where frizz is actually a good thing. I rarely touch my hair with heat or even products anymore. Not only is it healthier, cheaper, and easier, but truly makes you feel sexier. As one very stylish Parisian friend of mine said, "The concept of a 'bad hair day' doesn't exist in the French language."

What habits have you kicked since moving to France? Or if you are States-side, which ones do you think you could never give up?
Tell me in the comments below, I love comments! Or if you have a question about the French culture, email me through the link above, I read and answer each and every email from you!

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