The First Time I Saw Paris

The moment my plane announced that we had arrived in Paris, I immediately took a glance towards the window of the plane. To my surprise, the window displayed nothing but heavy fog. There was absolutely nothing for me to see out the window which disappointed me a bit because I was expecting falling snow or a nice wintry outlook of Paris weather. Since this was my first plane trip, I immediately felt unsure where to go pick up my claimed baggage. I figured to follow the crowd of people and see where that would lead me to. Unexpectedly I entered through customs and left with a stamp of approval on my passport in less than a minute. Then as I continued to walk towards a pathway, I soon entered in the claim baggage area and began to search for my luggage. As I was waiting, I looked around for any signs for the exit out of the airport. A lot of the signs written everywhere were in French but in small text underneath was in English. Luckily, I was able to get out of the airport and meet up with my driver to take me to my apartment. When we exited the airport and headed out towards the car, a huge gush of cold air slapped my face and I had immediately shivered. With that, I got the impression that Paris was cold and not so welcoming after all. 

As we headed towards my apartment, I saw a lot of graffiti tagged onto many of the walls in the city. In addition to the heavy overcast and random rummage laid outside in some parts of Paris, I began to think that it wasn’t matching to my ideal perception of what Paris was really like. I have had a perceived image of Paris looking very clean and bright, but now I began to feel that Paris was a really gloomy and a lifeless place to be. Even when we stopped at the street lights, I observed the pedestrians walking across the streets lifelessly. I didn’t see any signs of emotions from their faces and no one was talking to each other. The streets were confusing as some of the roads were curved and had many roundabouts. I thought to myself, “How am I going to survive living here? No one wants to talk to each other and the streets are already looking confusing as it is. Plus, there’s no street signs out that typically hang from the street lights and each street looks like a sketchy alley.” With these thoughts planted in my mind, I started to feel overwhelmed and feared that I would not be able to adjust to this new type of lifestyle that I had to call “my home” for three weeks.

Once I arrived in front of my apartment, I had already struggled to enter inside through the doors. I had accessed through the first door smoothly, but the second door was quite a challenge. I read through the directions on my pamphlet but the door wasn’t letting me through. Luckily, a young high school aged looking boy entered through the apartment and so I asked for his help. Unfortunately, he responded back in French and gestured me that he didn’t understand what I was trying to ask for. I suddenly felt like a foreigner to him since I couldn’t respond back in French and felt out of place knowing I couldn’t act like a Parisian who can open a normal door like the others. I smiled at him awkwardly trying to gesture him that I needed help how to enter inside through the apartment. Instead of being polite and understanding, the boy’s facial expression seem annoyed and motioned me to move away from the door so that he could pass me. I observed the French boy on how he used his key to unlock the door. Immediately after he went through and closed the door on me, I copied his exact same motions on the key to the scanner which activated the door. After going through two doors, I stumbled upon the very last french door I had to deal with. With more frustration, I finally understood on how to open the last door. Instead of turning the key clockwise, I had to turn it counter clockwise for it to unlock my apartment’s door. After my struggling experience with the doors, I was already mentally exhausted with Paris. My expectations of Paris was dismantled with its gloomy weather, emotionless and unfriendly Parisians, and confusing doors. As a result of this experience, I had realized I have experienced a heavy culture shock on my first day of Paris. Now only 18 more days until I go back home…

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