I never saw myself as someone who would get culture shock, even though I had only left the country once in my life – and I was 10 years old so it didn’t really count. Students have been studying abroad since forever, and if they could do it there was no reason I wouldn’t be able to also. I decided to embrace the big question mark lying beyond August 22nd, the date I would arrive.
So when I got to Paris, the reality that I had to make everything happen for myself hit me almost immediately. The first thing I had to do when I got there was find a way to charge my dead phone, since I didn’t even think about the outlets being different in France. I was overwhelmed making my way through the streets, both by the sheer surrealism of just being in Paris and by the sheer density of my physical surroundings. Everywhere there was somewhere to look at. It felt strange to be in such new and unreal surroundings while doing something as mundane as getting an outlet convertor, and this contrast would come to dominate my time here.
Since my phone was dead (and didn’t have phone service anyway), I had to rely completely on myself to navigate these foreign streets. I managed to somehow successfully use my French to get some directions, but considering these directions were in French, the street names were muddled sounds in my head I had to match up to the signs I saw as I walked around.
Needless to say, adjusting to being in a new place was more of a hurdle than I expected. It was an exciting kind of stress though.