After a few months in Paris many people asked me the same question: "What do you find to be the biggest difference? Have you had any cultural chocks yet?". In the beginning I couldn't really think of an answer. Coming from Stockholm, quite a few things were similar to my "previous life" in Sweden. Of course there were differences but nothing that could live up to the word "chock".
After my time in Paris the answer to the question hasn't really changed (just like I told you about here). I wasn't exposed to any kind of "chock", as apparently, other people had experienced. Differences, yes. Chock, no, not really. Although most of the differences were fortunately positive in my opinion. One of these differences, that I experienced while in Paris, and that I'll try to take with me no matter where I go in the future, is to enjoy life as the French do (note that this doesn't mean taking several lovers).
It's all about the French attitude about everyday life. So many people still stand in line to the local boulangerie, waiting on their turn to buy fresh bread every morning and in the afternoons they are there again, either to pick up more bread, a treat for themselves or a little dessert for the nights dinner. I'm on the other hand used to being ashamed when buying white bread, hiding my chocolate bar under the other groceries at the checkout counter and used not to visit a pastry shop unless it's somebody's birthday.
Another sight that was pleasantly surprising for me was when I saw a costume clad man picking up an éclair from a little bag and started eating it. On the métro. This might sound totally ridiculous but I swear I've never seen anything like this in Stockholm. In Stockholm, eating on the subway is often done in extreme discretion, or never at all. You certainly don't nibble on a fancy pastry, in the subway, in the middle of the day. What would people think?
I love this mentality. I mean I really love this mentality. The fact that you visit your local boulangerie to pick up a tarte aux framboise, gateau au chocolate or simply a few macarons even though it's only a Tuesday and you have nothing special to celebrate. That it's inevitable to drink wine to both lunch and dinner and that you of course order three courses when you're out at a restaurant.
I still have a little bit left to learn from the French, although I have eaten quite a few sweets during my days in Paris... These small things and this "it's-not-wrong-to-treat-yourself-to-something-nice-no-matter-the-day-and-time" attitude makes the everyday life so much more enjoyable. I'll try to take this with me wherever I go.