I’ve recently read this post from Diane, an American expat in France, in which she talks about some daily life particularities that she has now completely accepted. It reminds me of my own situation in the USA, and how much sometimes I’m confused about details. Well, I’ve been here for more than 1 year now, so I’m getting used to them but at first, it was a whole new world. This is my response to Diane, 12 details of daily life in the US that I’m now used to and find almost normal.
1) We don’t count levels in the same way. The first flour is the equivalent of our rez-de-chaussée, which means 0. So, my flat is at the 3rd floor if I speak in the French way, but at the 4th floor if I speak in the American way. I’m not extremely logical so I think that we live at the 5th floor.
2) Coins have not a lot of value, there’s no 1 or 2 dollars coins. Classical beginner mistake: paying with a 20 dollar bill in a machine – a metro ticket for instance – and getting tons of useless coins in return. The only coin that worth it is the quarter, the 25 pennies, that I even buy on rolls, this coin can be useful in some situations.
3) There is no individual washing machine. For me, it’s going back to my student life when I didn’t own my own machine. That’s also a reason why I need to have quarters.
4) American flags float everywhere – in front of houses, public places, in the metro stations.
5) In the bathtub, the faucet system seemed very weird and complex. We had to spend time with Manu to understand how it work to simply open it up. Collateral issue, I can’t manage to open or close the taps with my foot when I’m lying on my bath. Other bizarre fact, the water is different, kind of sticky, the soap couldn’t be rinsed properly. Now I don’t even think about these details anymore, but feel smart to be able to use this kind of faucet.
6) Still in the bathroom, toilets have a different evacuation system. I don’t want to be indelicate, but I can tell you that the experience is different.
7) There are some old stuff that still exist and we probably haven’t seen them in France from the past 2 or 3 decades: parking meters that work with cash, and hole puncher in trains. But on the other hand, people read on kindles or ipad on the metro.
8) Prices don’t included taxes. Real, real bummer.
9) When I receive a phone call, I have to pay. And then I got a message telling me how much it costed. In France, you only pay when you are the one calling.
10) Traffic is a lot different. Cars are allowed to turn on the right when the light is red. But there’s no such thing as “yielding to the right” when there’s no sign. When I’m on the sidewalk, I have to wait for the guy to turn white (and not green) and then there’s a crazy red countdown that forces me to rush to cross a big avenue. There would be more to say about trafic and cars, but well, not my favorite topic.
11) I can buy a lot of medicines without any prescription. I’ve got a 200 Ibuprofen pill box, I could probably kill a horse with all that amount.
12) I can leave my stuff on a coffee shop without watching them constantly; if I’ve forgotten something on the basket of my bike, it’ll be there at the end of the day; we can ask the mailman to leave packages on the hall of our building, nobody will take them. It’s probably the normal way to live in a community, but this honesty still surprises me.
What other details did I miss? What strikes you when you go to Europe or France in particular?