After living in the States for almost 20 years I moved to
There are many things I enjoy about living in France, but after almost 9 years, I still miss little things about living in the States. With the exception of my Dad and a few close friends, most of the things I miss are everyday conveniences.
For the most part, mailing a letter in the States is as simple as slapping a stamp on the envelope, walking out to the end of your driveway, putting the letter in the tunnel shaped box and raising the flag.
, to mail a letter you have to go to
a post office or drop it inside a large yellow post box, usually located outside
grocery stores or outside the post office. What you have in front of your house
looks like this: France
|Yes, this is my actual mailbox on top of my electric meter. |
Yes, there is a big honking rock on it, don't ask.
And yes, I did photoshop "Wonder Woman" on the name plate (:
Notice, there is no flag on my mailbox because mail carriers (see how PC I am) only deliver mail, they do not take it. Why? Because that would require working over 35 hours/week, and that is a "no, no." Also, each mailbox comes with a lock and key in case the neighbor wants to steel your bills and books you ordered from Amazon.
Public Water Fountains
In the States, public water fountains are pretty common. You find them in schools and in public places like shopping malls, museums, parks etc. No big deal. You walk over, push the button and water comes out. It’s free.
, finding a public water fountain is difficult and I’ve never seen one indoors. The few I’ve seen outside
tend to be beautiful ornate stone fountains that look 300 years old. And
oddly enough, most French people never drink out of these fountains; they prefer
their bottled sparkling water. France
In the States, there's usually room to park your car. You find an open spot, drive in, park.
, there is a shortage of parking. Period. So what do people do when there's no parking left? Park on the sidewalk of course! France
Now, do I park on the sidewalk? Absolutely. When in Rome...
I didn't realize how much I miss hugs until I got back State side a few weeks ago. I was introduced to several people in my Dad's writers group. I shook hands with them until I got in front of a colossal man. I looked up, stuck my hand out and this huge southern gentlemen looked down at me (I'm 5'2 for 120lbs) and he says with a smile, "I hug my women." And I got this great big bear hug from a barrel of a man. Needless to say, it put a big smile on my face. In the States greeting someone with a hug is normal. Women hug each other all the time. You hug your family, close friends, etc. For everyone else, you shake hands. No big deal.
In France people don't hug. It's weird. Oddly, what isn't weird is what's called "la bise" or kiss. It's common to kiss someone you know on alternating cheeks. The problem is, the number of times you kiss depends on what region you live in. In the south, some exchange 3 kisses, in other regions it's 2 and for some it's 4. I can't tell you how stressful it was for me not knowing how many times to do "la bise." Also, if you're meeting someone for the first time you shake hands. Sounds easy right? Except that's not always the case and some people will do "la bise" right off the bat. A lot depends on your age, the age of the person you are meeting, and if you're being introduced by a mutual friend. Confused yet? Me too. I remember meeting someone for the first time, leaning in the do "la bise" and have them stick their hand out. Awkward. Can't we all just hug and call it a day? Apparently, "Non."