Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why don't people in Paris talk back?

Hi, I'm 28
I've lived in 9 countries because my job makes me move every year (Also I have been an student exchangee 3 times).

- Canada
- Mexico
- U.S.
- Turkey
- Spain
- China
- India
- Chile
- Ukraine

In that order.
I left Ukraine 2 weeks ago

It's a habit for me to meet new people while I'm taking the bus or the train or just walking in the street. I talk to random strangers and I've made very interesting friends. Even lifetime friendships. I've even dated one chick or two.

But in Paris, when I try to talk to random strangers; very, very few people have answered back. Most of them look at me like trying to say: "You don't deserve to talk to me. Get out, moron."

This has happened to me before, but it wasn't the norm until now.

I wonder what are they thinking. What makes them give such a distasteful answer? Is it excessive shyness? Are they snobs? Do they not trust strangers?

How to meet new people in Paris?

As Wise Owl said you are in fact being rude to the French. They are not saying 'you don't deserve to talk to me' but 'you have no right to intrude in my private space'. 

French people are extremely reserved, there's a clear separation between private life, which includes chatting, laughing with people, and public life which includes going around in a city without engaging in other than formal exchanges with people who are not part of their private circle. 

Add that cultural rule to the fact that Paris is one of the most densely crowded capital city in the world and you can understand that this makes people there in no hurry to engage conversation with total strangers. If you don't want to blow your top being regularly crushed in with other people you need to have a mental privacy bubble to help you ignore the overcrowding. By talking to people you breach that bubble. You might have more chances striking a conversation in a smaller less crowded space which is not overrun by tourists.

You can also try that around where you live, in your building, the shops you go to, people who have seen you around will be more likely to stop and answer, if they understand you.