I’m having a hard time believing that it has only been 3 weeks since I left the States because it truly feels like an eternity. However, there are a few things that remind me time and again that I’ve only just arrived in France. Yes, the obvious language barrier, but more importantly the fact that aside from a handful of acquaintances, and my roommate, Ashley, I hardly know a soul. I haven’t experienced a transition such as this since starting my freshman year of college, and I’ve had to start from scratch in the friend department.
I’ve been on the prowl for friends. Specifically ones that speak French, but really, any nationality will do. The most important thing I’ve learned thus far is that you must not wait for people to approach you… because they are not going to. Seriously, the French are some of the most lovely people once you get to know them, but their icy façade can be intimidating. Second, smile a lot because this confuses the French. They will immediately know you are not from here, perhaps upping your chances of a pity conversation or a chance for the French to practice their very poor foreign language skills. I don’t mean this as an attack on the French but truly, the pride they hold for their national identity is conveyed through their language. They take incredible measures to protect its sanctity. For more on this (in French) see: The Académie Française. For the vast majority of you who are reading this and do not speak French click here. Third, when in doubt ask for a cigarette. Even if you don’t smoke, it’s a sure fire way to start a conversation with someone (pun intended). Because French people smoke like chimneys, you will not have a problem with this approach. Once you’ve started a conversation expect to be asked where you are from. This is inevitable if you butcher the French language as I often do, but also because your accent is intriguing and obviously not French. Numerous times I’ve been asked if I’m from England. This pleases me, because it means I am not speaking with an American accent… I’m hoping that I’ll start getting asked if I’m from Spain soon. This means I am progressing. After divulging your nationality expect a slew of questions but listen carefully, because if somewhere mid-thought someone expresses the desire to speak English or travel to America you must pounce. Here is where you lock it down. Suggest doing a language exchange, then, and this is key, take their number. This way you can harass them into hanging out with you, showing you their favorite bars and restaurants, and introducing you to MORE of their friends.
I’ve had a few successes with this approach so far, and I look forward to testing it out on more people, specifically cute French guys. I’ll keep you updated on the growth of my friend circle.
3xBisous (muah, muah, muah) as they do here in the south,