Ok, so I may not experience the dreaded 'culture shock' that people talk about--maybe I will, after all, it's early days in France-- but there have been an fair amount of 'little' cultural differences that I've noticed acutely during my short time here (There's been a few cultural similarities which have caught me off guard as well!) . 'Ok, for example..?' you ask. Where do I start?
- Cars, trains and pedestrians traverse on the right hand side, rather than the left.
- Note to self: this means I need to stop trying to be the driver when I catch a lift with my friends (the steering wheel is of course on the left)
- Maccas is heaps more expensive over here
- Paperwork takes a tad longer here due to inefficient inter-department and political processes
- Customs can delay postage deliveries for about 10 days (or even longer)
- A positive difference is that people in Lille are often bilingual, or can speak 3 or more languages (take that mono-linguistic Australia)!
- A similarity which surprised me is the songs that the protestan evangelical churches sing--often translations of songs written by American or Australian song writers (speaking of which, it's quite funny that quite a few youth at the church that I've got involved with "L'eau vie" ask me very excitedly have I seen Hillsong!) The songs they sing are admittedly quite old, perhaps 15-25y.o. But it's quite refreshing hearing people sing it gutsily in a foreign language.
- Pedestrians in Lille, in my opinion, are more aggressive than in Australia. Why do I say aggressive? Well, for a start, they start crossing the street when there are cars right in front of them,even when the pedestrian crossing lights are red! (not that Australians don't do that though!)
- Waiting for a metro train is a treat as nowadays I just rock up to the station anytime and there will be a train in the next few minutes. Also, all the metro trains are automated! Kinda freaky but clever.
- Wine is easily available--you just go to a regular supermarche and there will be a whole aisle of every wine you can imagine for a couple of euros
- This may seem a bit of an odd difference, but it really surprised me! All the checkout guys and girls sit down rather than stand. It may seem little, but I kid you not that when you go overseas you notice these differences!