If you move to a new city, let alone a foreign one, you will begin to notice small changes in your behavior and in the things you like. Itâ€™s inevitable.
Moving to Paris, of course, there are bound to be changes â€” some for the better, some for the worse. But I think perhaps the most obvious ones come in your behavior and mannerisms. At least, itâ€™s like this for me, and I notice these things the most whenever I come home and realize Iâ€™ve done something that isnâ€™t normal.
For example, the way I say â€œhelloâ€ to people has changed drastically. In France, when we meet someone, we â€œfais la bise.â€ That is to say, we give each other a kiss on each cheek. Now, this doesnâ€™t happen in the workplace, but if youâ€™re among friends and family, you always greet one another with a kiss on each cheek (Itâ€™s not really a kiss, itâ€™s more like you lean in and touch cheeks, making a kissing sound as if you had actually kissed).
At first, this felt abnormal to me. Uncomfortable. But now, it has become natural, and I feel more awkward not doing it then if I had.
When I went home for vacation in August, I ran into a girl I knew at the grocery store my first day back in the states. My first reaction was to move closer and lean in to â€œfais la bise,â€ but then I stopped myself. I thought, â€œOh wait, youâ€™re in the states. Sheâ€™s going to think this is weird.â€
At this point though, I was already too close to her because I had started to lean in, so I quickly changed to an awkward semi-hug with a girl I hadnâ€™t seen in over a year. She probably thought I was crazy.
But in that moment, I couldnâ€™t remember what to do if I wasnâ€™t going to give her a kiss on the cheek. Do I hug her? Do I shake her hand? Do I just stand there? I honestly couldnâ€™t remember. I was stuck between worlds.
I kept thinking about the situation, and I finally realized that it probably would have just been best to say â€œhiâ€ and stand there making polite small talk. Yet, I had already made the situation awkward by starting to â€œfais la bise.â€
Even in France, if I meet other Americans, I struggle with this. I recently met two girls from Boston visiting a French friend of mine, and I again went to lean in to give them each a kiss on the cheek before realizing they donâ€™t do that.
Itâ€™s little things like this that happen when you go home or meet others from home that make you notice how your habits have changed.
So if you happen to meet a girl in January who awkwardly jumps into your personal space when she meets you as if to kiss you, donâ€™t worry. Itâ€™s probably just me, still adjusting to life in the United States.