Ha ha. Have you seen this article in New York magazine about the things Parisians do that stun Americans…and vice versa?
My favorite from the article is this one:
Parisians do not talk to strangers. This can be profoundly disconcerting to a New Yorker who’s used to freely bitching about life’s daily indignities with whoever happens to be in line with them at Duane Reade. If you comment to a Parisian in the métro that the un-air-conditioned car is particularly smelly today, they will give you a frightened look like you are a crazy person and turn away.
My personal favorite (from mortifying personal experience) is that French people do not put their hands on their lap while eating. When I was an exchange student in France, this American habit of mine was a source of delighted horrification and shock to the little kids in my first French host family. “Where have your hands gone?” they would ask. “What did you do with them?” Their parents would attempt to shush them – usually to no avail – and then murmur urgent reminders to me. It was a very big deal. I learned quickly.
I am always fascinated by these small-yet-huge details and differences.
Do you have any to add? Did you learn any cultural lessons the hard way (like I did)? 😉