July 12, 2012
Paris (Oncle Tom)
Returning home to New York hit me with the biggest culture shock I’ve ever felt. Now, I’m no stranger to culture shock. My first notable quake occurred when I moved to Paris at the age of 18 with just a handful of French words at my disposal (croissant, café, cigarette…).
Paris (Lost In Cheeseland) & (Making Magique)
The move hit pretty high on the Richter scale, but eventually I assimilated as best I could, and my American friends who came to visit told me I seemed “French.” (For the record, the French always said I seemed “Swedish.”)
Paris rooftops (oropeza)
Years later, with an expired visa and packed boxes, I sat in my beautiful 6eme étage Montparnasse apartment that looked out over some of the best rooftops Paris has to offer. I told myself that I would surely find a way to return to Paris within three to six months. It never occurred to me to prepare for re-assimilation into New York culture. I never once imagined that eight years later, I’d still be in New York, shocked and shaken, fighting passionately to maintain une vie parisienne in New York City.
New York (roeyahram)
As a native New Yorker, I possess certain habits that I can’t quite shake, even when living abroad. I tend to speed walk everywhere, and I consider jaywalking to be the right-of-way, no matter what. I strike up a conversation at every checkout counter, and I can’t help but leave a fifteen percent tip for bad service. When I hop into a cab, I make sure the meter is running before telling the driver we’re heading to Brooklyn. And in the subway I scream, “Hold the doors!” as I fly down the stairs, but of course I scream at others when they do the same.
Paris (TOF alias christophe hue)
Yet, despite my innate New Yorkness, I found it challenging to re-integrate with family and old friends when I first moved back. I was still me, but now had an inner Parisienne who only allowed me to frequent cafés that have a no-laptop policy, and who made me cringe at the idea of ordering a coffee to go.
New York (Carin Olsson)
She still considers the occasional cigarette to be healthy and is offended by aggressive no-smoking bans (even though they’ve only helped her kick the habit). She believes in bike paths, small cars, and a public transportation system that does not run 24/7 so that it can be cleaned and maintained.
New York (craigCloutier)
At times, my inner Parisienne has been so dominant she made me do silly things, like not thinking twice about moving into a five-story walk-up with no elevator. She even tricked me into thinking I could survive another New York heat wave without an air conditioner; she has since learned to love her new air conditioner.
Paris (Annelie Willemijn)
Even at work, while I was negotiating with a former employer, my inner Parisienne took charge by claiming that her “quality of life” was in jeopardy and insisting that she take a full hour-long lunch break each workday. She also explained that two weeks really wasn’t enough vacation time to go anywhere worthwhile. Surely, I must be entitled to more in life than just work, n’est-ce pas?
Paris (Olof Grind)
It was shortly after my boss refused to meet my requests that it occurred to me that I was no longer culturally shocked, but actually culturally transformed. I can’t help being a New Yorker just as much as I can’t seem to let go of my inner Parisienne. I’ve been living in New York seven years and six months longer than I ever anticipated, and it might be a while longer before I have the chance to live in Paris again. Until then, no matter where in the world I may be, I will happily embrace ma vie parisienne.
- If Paris were New York and New York were Paris, would it look like this?
- … for more, you can buy the full Paris vs. New York book here
- Even Paris in Four Months falls for New York once in a while
Written by Elise Marafioti
Elise was born and raised in New York where she pursued a career in classical and modern dance. During a hiatus from performing, she moved to Paris and attended the American University of Paris. After living in more than six different arrondissements over the years, soaking up as much of Paris as possible, she returned to New York. Throughout the years, Elise has taken every opportunity to return to Paris and has also traveled extensively throughout Europe.
Website: Haven in Paris
Tags: Annelie Willemijn, Carin Olsson, Coffee, croissant, Elise Marafioti, Lost in Cheeseland, Making Magique, Montparnasse, New York, new york city, Olof Grind, Oncle Tom, paris, Parisian Living, Parisienne, Une Vie Parisienne
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