From the beginning of my stay abroad in Paris, I tried to meet and get to know a lot of French or even Parisian people, to improve my French and to get to know the culture better. Meeting people turned out to be more difficult than I expected, since all the French students were under a lot of pressure to get good grades and therefore were at the library most of the time. By coincidence I still got to know a Luxembourger who studied regularly in Paris and who also lived in the “Cité internationale universitaire de Paris”. Since he had lived in Paris for the past years, he had some Parisian friends, whom I met pretty quickly and we also went out altogether. It became clear that we weren’t that different when it came to jokes, having fun and also talking about serious topics. Even though they also had to study a lot, we met many times and had a lot of fun together. In distinction to the other students, we met in our time off, which made a difference in our relationship. Because during classes, all students were pretty focused and concentrated on class, and as soon as class was over, they headed straight to the library or the next class. So, I got the chance to meet them outside of the flow of university life, which was almost the only way to get to know them better without having the feeling of preventing them from studying.
During my stay abroad, I also met a lot of different Erasmus students from different countries. I spent most of my time with three girls from Amsterdam. We had some similar classes and one visited the same French language class as I did. First, we didn’t talk and weren’t really in contact, up to the moment when we had to search for the same classroom. So then we realized that we were taking the same language class as well as some other classes, too. From the first moment on, we got along really well, because our interests and sense of humor matched. Even though they were younger than I am, and we communicated in English and French, we quickly developed a close relationship and saw each other every day, also outside of university. There wasn’t a difficulty or barrier we had to overcome or cultural differences that would make it difficult to spend time together.
I did not experience a situation, person or anything else that was in a way so different that it would have taken me a lot of strength or need for personal change in order to adapt to it. The culture in France is similar to the culture in Switzerland, and even ‘classic’ (stereotypical) French behavior, like being late, not communicating directly or being rude and harsh weren’t as intense as I had expected before I left. Actually, I had many good experiences, and certainly not more bad ones than I have had in Switzerland.
Therefore, I didn’t experience situations or know people who were unfamiliar at the beginning and became familiar over time. Automatically, I didn’t spend time with people I didn’t get along with, and so there was no need for such unfamiliar people to become familiar to me.