Five culture shocks you’ll face in Paris

So you come to Paris and you realize that you’re not in Kansas anymore. Or not in Virginia anymore, as the case is for today’s guest.

Sure, the language is different. People dress differently. And there certainly seem to be a lot more pastries everywhere you look.

But let’s go a step deeper.

Today’s podcast guest is American entrepreneur and psychologist John Clarke. He is still in his first year in Paris and has a razor sharp eye for those little culture shocks that still leave him scratching his head. 

Here is our little podcast chat (and please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts) – then why not scroll down for the list form of the episode.

Five culture shocks in Paris

1. People don’t talk about work

It’s easy to focus on your work life in countries like the US, where people tend to ask you about your job right after they ask your name. But it’s not so in Paris, says John, which has allowed him to go from being a “150 percent workaholic” to a regular guy with a healthy work-life balance.

2. They don’t snack!

One reason why Parisians are so slim might be that they just don’t seem to snack at all. More amazingly, Parisian children tend not to snack either. Compare this with some other countries where a snack can be a time-passer, a boredom filler, or even a reward for children.

3. A kiss means nothing!

You’ve surely heard about the famed French greeting kisses (on the cheek!). But as commonplace as it may be in Paris, some foreigners are still surprised at how touching faces with a stranger is considered less intimate than a hug.

4. They appreciate life more

If a Parisian wants a cigarette, they’ll have one. Heck, they’ll probably have several. And they seem to enjoy a little bit of everything without feeling sorry for it. In the US, on the other hand, people often feel guilty for eating junk food and may feel the need to “punish themselves” at the gym. But the French delight in delights, they enjoy the little moments, and they live for the day.

New episode: Paris is a unique city full of its own little quirks. American psychologist John Clarke shares some of the culture shocks he's experienced since moving to Paris.

5. They’re not afraid of germs

If you buy a baguette in Paris, it will likely come at least partially uncovered. The Parisians will take it home – letting it fly in the wind, resting it on a table, touching it with the same fingers that handed over the money to pay for it. And this, our guest says, is a good example of how Parisians have much less of a fear of germs than their American counterparts. It’s also why I chose the picture at the top of this blog post, in case you were wondering.

Well that’s it! Hope you enjoyed those little observations. If you want a deeper and a much funnier insight into each of those five points, listen to the podcast for goodness sake!

If you’re itching for more culture shocks about France, I had Rosie from YouTube’s Not Even French channel sharing her own thoughts here.

Meanwhile, check out John’s podcast about helping other psychologists open their own practices: Private Practice Workshop.

And lastly, support The Earful Tower on Patreon here.

6 thoughts on “Five culture shocks you’ll face in Paris

  1. Sorry but 2. is not right – Parisiens may not be as “snacky” as the tourists, but they snack! Maybe they’re just more discrete 😁. And young French kids are usually welcomed out of school with something to eat by their mamas or nounous, a croissant or pain au chocolaté or even a couple of biscuits! No 5. Is spot on – but there’s nothing wrong with a baguette with a few specks of dust on it, specially when you can’t resist eating (snacking?🥴) half of it before you get home! Signed – a fan of theearfultower! Wynn

    1. Thanks Wynn! In the podcast we did indeed cover how kids do indeed snack after school – I just couldn’t write it all into the article. Have a listen 🙂 But yes, you’re exactly right! Thanks for being a fan!

  2. The listener email from Cynthia that she is from Raleigh, NC. I am as well, and did a mini scream in my office when I heard. The movement is spreading Oliver!

    1. The movement is spreading. Amazing. You should meet up with Cynthia and have the earfuls first meetup in the US!

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