Homesick in Paris

Oct 16th, 2000, 05:15 AM
  #1  
Freda Ann
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Homesick in Paris

Will be staying a few months in Europe on an exchange but am already feeling homesick.

Been in Paris a three weeks now but have started to find that the novelty has worn off. Crazy I know but I find myself going to the usual tacy burger places and suchlike that I never did back home. I don’t even have cable TV to watch CNN in my apartment….

Anyone got any ideas? Should I go to London for a few days? Many more American things there?

It’s the first time I am in Europe but I find things are just too different to things back home.

Anyone else had this feeling? Any advice?

 
Oct 16th, 2000, 05:43 AM
  #2  
Paige
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Buy a USA Today (international editions are available everywhere). Get some friends or family to come visit and then have them bring stuff from home. If no one can come any time soon, have them send you stuff you miss. Find a video store with English/American movies. Find some Americans to hang out with. Remind yourself why you wanted to live there and renew your enthusiasm for exploring the area. Also don't forget that you won't be there long, so don't waste this excellent opportunity to experience Paris! You'll be back home soon enough!
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 05:57 AM
  #3  
elaine
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Freda
Perhaps work on a project, like a diary with pictures of your European
experience
Also, I think you need to make some friends. I don't know how old you are, but if you are student-age, hang out around the Sorbonne or libraries or bookstores so you can meet and talk to some more people.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 06:19 AM
  #4  
Freda Ann
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It’s not a student exchange. The company I work for sent me to their Paris office and took one of their guys for the same period to work in the US office. At first I jumped at the chance of spending a spell abroad.

I am 32 and in fact was in to mind about going over since I don’t speak any French. But I thought I should take the opportunity. The company has been good –they pay for language tuition and I get an a good allowance for the rent. I live in a nice part of town (the 16 arrondissement for those who know paris) but I just can’t get over the “culture shock”. In fact I have even stopped going to the French language tuition. Its just too foreign for me. Seen a few palaces and monuments of course, but after you seen some you feel like you seen them all….

Even crazy things – like half cooked meat are difficult for me to get used to…

Plus most things are in french so its difficult to get by speaking only english….

This weekend I was already counting the days….

 
Oct 16th, 2000, 06:37 AM
  #5  
TJ
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Lots of "support groups" in Paris for Americans. Get a list from the American Embassy (check their website), the American Women's Group of the American Church, or any number of other such groups. In fact, the American Church just held their annual "Bloom Where You're Planted" program to help Americans get accustomed to living in Paris. There might be one more week left in the program; at least you can get a copy of their materials. Join the American Library (7th).

In my experience (as a fellow American resident of the 16th), the key is to join groups, meet people, and rely on them for tips on how to make it through the difficult transition of relocation. You'll be surprised at how many people went through, or are going through, exactly what you're doing now.

Also, check out Real McCoy (American groceries in 7th), Thanksgiving (same, in 4th), American bookstores (Brentano's, WH Smith, Shakespeare & Co.).
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 06:38 AM
  #6  
Annie
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Dear Freda Ann:
What a wonderful opportunity you have been given. Paris can be a bit daunting when you are on your own. It is only for a few months. You'll be glad you did it later on, I promise.
You could go to London for a weekend. You also could take a high speed train to Amsterdam or Belgium.
Though I would really hate to see you miss all the wonderful places Paris has to see. Most of us only get a week or two to see stuff. You have months!! I know you are working during the day, so how about a cafe after work with some co-workers? Please go to the French Language Tuition. It is a great place to meet people, don't you think? Foreign yes, but what an adventure. Hang in there....be patient....be in touch.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 06:40 AM
  #7  
Annie
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I know how you feel. The novelty and excitement of moving to Europe has worn off, and now you've gotten down to real life, but without your regular comforts of family, friends, favorite restaurants, even your own language.

Although I normally would recommend just immersing yourself further into the local culture, maybe at this point you need to seek out some fellow Americans, through an ex-pat group perhaps. They've been in Paris longer than you have, and can help make the transition easier. And they probably also know more Parisians, and can help you meet more locals.

Go back to your language class! Things will only get worse for you if you aren't trying to learn the language! Sorry to say, but this sounds like a really bone-headed move. Get off your butt and go back to class.

I don't know if going to London for a few days will help or not. Things are still foreign, although the language and chain fast food restaurants may make you feel more comfortable. If you're going to take a trip, why not hop over to NYC for a weekend if things are that bad?
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 06:41 AM
  #8  
Marsha
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Freda Ann: I can relate - the first time I was in France as an exchange student, I was very homesick. (I ended up going home as soon as I finished my semester, but now I kick myself for not doing some extra traveling when I had the chance.) When I was homesick, I checked out as many American novels as I could from the library. I went to American movies. Do you have some American friends? I think there are groups of Americans in Paris that get together. Can a relative or friend visit for a long weekend? (The fares are great right now.) Take a weekend trip to London. All I can say is that you will go home soon. Try to make the best of your experience.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 07:30 AM
  #9  
elaine
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Hi again
I understand feeling lonely, but you need to work at
finding alternatives. You say you stopped going to class but that it's difficult to get by in only English. That is a situation you can improve.Take the advice above and go back to the language classes; for one thing you'll meet other "foreigners" and for another, it's a golden opportunity.
Why are you accepting "half-cooked meat" if you don't like it? Experiencing the culinary differences is part of the adventure, but if you don't want to get used to it and want
your meat cooked "well done" then ask for it to be cooked "Bien cuit"
("bee-en kwee, sort of) or just say "well done" in English. Most Paris establishments have waiters that speak at least some English, and many are used to Americans who like meat well-done and ice in their drinks. If that's not true in the 16th, try some of the more touristy arrond., and you might be more likely to meet some American tourists.

If you are seriously depressed, then please go talk to a professional, and I'm not being sarcastic. However,
if you're just feeling sorry for yourself, then eating at tacky hamburger places, feeling "seen some monuments, seen them all", and not trying to appreciate the Paris experience on its own terms (as opposed to comparing it to home) is not going to help you feel better. Do some reading, find out more about the history of the fabulous place you are in.
If you don't take at least someone's advice, then it seems that you've probably made a mistake with your arrangement, and perhaps you should go home. That's not an accusation, just an
opinion. Some of us adjust better to some situations than to others.
Good luck
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 07:35 AM
  #10  
Florence
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Freda Ann,
I know how you feel. Been on a business exchange to Japan a few years ago, and although I love the culture and the food, can even speak the language, I found myself touring the all-night grocery stores in Kyoto one night hoping to find some swiss chocolate.
Use the addresses the other posters have indicated in order to find other expats, go on weekend trips to London, Brussels, A'dam, and even Geneva (I know it's considered the pits by most Fodorites, but it's one of the more international cities in Europe, with lots of American residents). Email me if you want infos on Geneva.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 07:38 AM
  #11  
Alana
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Go to England! YOu will feel 100 times better - simply because they speak ENGLISH!!!
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 08:00 AM
  #12  
Freda Ann
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Thanks for the replies.

Would you agree that there is a mistaken image about Parisian life. All the French ever want to do is go to the movies. Like I really miss watching a baseball match or even walking in the park – yes surprisingly there are very few parks in Paris. Many Americans that I have met all tell me how great it all is but never really tell me why this is so. What I liked was the arts and yes the Louvre is Ok but you seen the Arc the Triomphe and Eiffel tower once or twice and then…so what???

There is not the sense of community as one has in the US. It is far harder to be accepted into a French persons house than an American, especially if you don’t speak much French in the first place.

 
Oct 16th, 2000, 08:14 AM
  #13  
Florence
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Freda Ann,
When I was last in the US (Phoenix AZ), I did not feel the sense of community I feel when I'm home in Geneva. Doesn't mean there is none, just that it doesn't manifest itself in the same way. You'll find out about Paris if you make the effort of taking an interest in what's around you and learning the language.

If you like art and parks, you might like Geneva, and I'm willing to show you my favorite places if you want.




 
Oct 16th, 2000, 08:28 AM
  #14  
Candice
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Hiii,
I read yor email and I felt like I should write. Next year is my time to do the same thing as you, for only 6 months altought, and I have already stayed away from home some months, but no more than 3.
Well, I think that first of all: stop.. dont look for your country in Paris.. Look for Paris in Paris. You gotta enjoy the place, the people, the new way of life.
It's not as simple as readen, but it's the fundamental and solution for your stress. I am brazilian, and I know I will feel veeery homesick, specially becuase I am from a place where the contact is a routine. My sister is spending 6 months now is Canada. Wants to come back, cannot stand, but, hey! She is doing it. You are doing it. You gotta do it. it's an opportunitty that very few people have. Why not look for a baghette in a parisien delicatessen? Why not understand what is behind their behavior, their culture, I mean, there's something called: other eyes. And this is what you can perceive from others way of life. My boyfriend is American. Lives in NY. Loves Brazil. And always ask me:Why leave this place? Why we dont leave in Brazil?How can you find beauty in NY, leaving somewhere like Brazil??!!
And I always answer: there's a NY that only the tourists see.It's behind these buildings, it's on these buildings, it's everywhere. Once one decides to enjoy and leave it, great! You gotta a point.
So, if you decide that it's not up to you, then, it wont be.
When you travel to another place to stay for a long time, you have to leave the others life. This is not funny sometimes. Once, when I was in Argentina (Brazil's rival in soccer) I found my self clapping my hands for a gol that they made, against Brazil,and it happenend just because I was involved in their athmosphere. Then I said to my self: Heyyyy!!! Stop it!!!!
You must have an idea how brazilians are with soccer, but then I said: wow, I was really an argentinian right now.
And you know, though our life and our place is better than anywhere, I had fun. And I am sure you will have also, just remember, your things are there, for you, whenever you need it. Now, you have the opportunity to see why this place is so speacial for the parisienses.. And.. It is.
Good Luck, wish you happyness, enjoy it! And, by the way, if you know about a good place to stay there, let me know, I am still looking for a student studio to stay or share from 01/03/01 till 31/07/01....!!
Candice
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 08:59 AM
  #15  
Lori
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I can understand your homesickness but you do have a wonderful opportunity to observe another culture and make yourself part of it as well. That said, in order to help you combat the homesick feeling do go over to London for a few days. It's "foreign" but they speak English of course so that can be a comfort to you right now. Another thing you may want to do is (and this may sound crazy) is take a couple of day trips outside of Paris. I realize you work but you can do this on Sat. or Sunday. Check out ParisVision or Cityrama or one of the sightseeing tours and sign yourself up -- you will be surrounded with Americans on these trips and you can listen/talk English and catch up on news from 'home' as well. You migth consider the Loire Valley, Mont St. Michel, Brugge (Belguim), etc. Just being with Americans for a day or so probably will help you. You can also treat yourself to lunch in one of the larger hotels (that cater to Americans) and listen to English all around you!
These are not sure fire solutions I know but they can help. Making some friends (whether American or French) in Paris will help you too. You must work for a large company, surely there are people there who would be helpful.

Don't give up on your class, it could help you be with people.

I wish I had a perfect answer, but there is none, but give it more of a chance, it's a wonderful opportunity to learn about another country/life - go with the flow!
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 09:48 AM
  #16  
gregsec
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I'll add to what Marsha said. If you went home now, what would you regret 10 yrs from now that you could have done while still in France? That is a starting point.

Regarding being accepted, it is definitely different. After visiting many countries, I am now in opinion that US is the more unusual case. If you can get hold of books "Understanding Europeans", "French or Foe", it explains further on differences in friendship between American and Europeans. I do not favor one way or another, but I cannot say American way of being accepted immediately is without drawback. Yes, non Americans do not accept one readily into their circle. Having seen other kind of friendships, I also see superficiality of American "friendships", once the purpose which brought people together is gone, there is no further associations, they have gone to "bigger and better" things. We still communicate with our acquaintances in Europe, they remember the details of last get togethers. I do not say that one is superior to another. I feel that having variety in life adds depth to ones understanding of the world around.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 09:57 AM
  #17  
Celia
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Would it make you feel better to know that everyone in your situation goes through exactly what you're going through right now? It's true. It happens sometime between the third and the sixth week in a foreign environment. It's just something in the human psyche. But it goes away, and in a while you will be loving Paris again, and be ever so glad you went.

Hang in there! (And eat a peanut butter sandwich in the meantime.)
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 10:06 AM
  #18  
kk
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I'll tell you, Freda Ann, Paris is a terrible city to be alone in. I spent just one day by myself there and had had enough. (Other times I'd been with my husband and it was great.) On the other hand, in London I could be there alone for weeks and be happy as the proverbial clam.

SO. Try to figure out if you need companionship, and if so, then go somewhere and find it. There should be somewhere in Paris to make friends--Americans or otherwise.

Going to England a few times might help. At least you will know the language.

Also, Parisians although not as rude as they are often rumored to be, are not open-their-hearts welcoming. That's just the way it is. I have a French friend who works in Paris but lives in Blois. He always laughs and says Parisians feel superior and revel in it and that the rest of France is not like that.

Also, my son is training now with the French army. He has been everywhere and is very self-sufficient. He did say that it was "weird." I asked for explanation, to which he responded, everyone greets you first thing in the morning. If they see you later that day, they do not think it is necessary to speak since they have already done so once that day.
He could cope with it but it wasn't like downhome friendly Texas. Guess who he is hanging out with as a result? Another American who is terribly homesick and has to stay there two years. My son is only there for three months and is enjoying it. Hey, how old are you? Maybe he could look you up when he comes into Paris to vote absentee at the American embassy. (seriously)

I pass all these things on for what they are worth and in hopes you will feel better knowing that others experience the same things. I think everyone has given you some great advice. I hope it helps and that you get out more. If you don't, you could sink into a serious funk.

And, if all else fails, come home and let one of us take your place who is dying to spend a month in Paris. Buck up.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 10:13 AM
  #19  
I Smell
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I suspect a troll. If so, this is a subtle one. But we have someone posing a mildly intriguing question, and then coming back on (twice over a couple of hours) to make increasingly questionable statements about Paris to keep it going. Quitting the language class? Seen one monument, seen 'em all? No sense of community? No one invites you home if you don't speak French? French people only go to the movies?

But I'll have to hand it to you, Freda Ann/Charlotte/C_Loaf, you're getting much, much better at keeping your involvement in the thread low key. Keep working on your trolling skills, and someday you will truly raise the bar for the rest of us. No offense taken or intended, dear.
 
Oct 16th, 2000, 12:19 PM
  #20  
kk
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Dear I Smell,
before I replied, I also wondered about the troll possibility. Decided to take it seriously and answer that way because--should this person be real--it might be too upsetting to think she wasn't taken seriously. And I think all of what she has written is plausible. Still, you do have a point. And, BTW, her/his aol address does NOT work. I just sent a test and it bounced back. Not conclusive, but still...
 

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