Oct 26th, 2018, 01:00 PM

A Latin American Perspective of Paris

By Katherin Lopez Cifuentes
Image Credit: Unsplash/Matthieu Oger
The positive differences between Paris and Latin America.

Living abroad in a new city is not always easy, especially if the culture is drastically different from your own. French culture, especially Parisian culture, can be intimidating, especially if you come from Latin American. Paris's grey skies and busy inhabitants are very different from Latin America's friendly people and warm weather. There is a reason why Latinos come to Paris, and why it isn't such a bad idea to stay. Living in Paris seems like a dream, but sometimes it can be awfully difficult - even if all your pictures look like postcards. Some of AUP's very own Latin Americans share what they love most about Paris.

Image Credit: Unsplash/Nil Castellví

AUP alumna, Teresa Segovia, from Mexico, mentions the use of the Velib bikes as her daily transportation. During her bike rides, she observes the Parisian beauty and the stunning Haussmann buildings. The public transportation in Paris is unlike any you can find in Latin America, where a car is the most common form of transportation. For Latin Americans, the possibility of using bikes, skateboards, scooters, buses, and metros is very rare and something to take advantage of when in Paris.

Walking is the transportation to appreciate most. Some do not consider it a form of transportation, but the ability to walk from your apartment to campus or anywhere else in the city is a relatively short amount of time is surreal. The ability to exercise while walking past historical monuments and encounter different people and cultures just by taking a stroll to the supermarket is very different from Latin America. There, most people drive everywhere due to the long distances and lack of safety on the streets.

Santiago Rodriguez, a Costa Rican senior at AUP, explains how public transportation in Paris differs from that back home. "In Latin America, people that have cars are considered to be of a higher social class than those who use public transport."  Rodriguez then continues to explain that in Paris, the use of public transportation does not define someone's wealth. Transportation is much easier in Paris than in Latin America. 

Image Credit: Unsplash/Léonard Cotte

Depending on their geographical location in Latin America, not everyone experiences all four seasons. In France, this is no problem. Initially, dressing for colder weather might be difficult, but the experience of all four seasons holds its nice surprises. Snow is the most pleasant and strange surprise, as it doesn't snow much in Central America. Rodriguez explains that experiencing heavy snowfall "is a big opportunity while living in France." During the summer Latin Americans get to enjoy more daylight, while during the winter they experience a European winter.

Image Credit: Flickr/Paris-Sharing

Feeling safe is another perk of living in Paris. While to some this may sound strange, to people coming from Central America, Paris feels very safe in comparison. AUP senior, Verónica Ayala, states that "back home it is not safe." Living in Paris, Ayala feels she has the ability to walk home late at night or drive a car at 4:00am. Instead, in Ecuador- Ayala's home- she would "never walk by [herself] at midnight, nor drive a car by [herself] at 4:00am." She continues to state that of course "this does not mean there is no risk" by being out late at night, but you have the possibility to do so.

Rodriguez describes the difference between the French police and the Latin American police: policemen in France actually do their jobs, and don't exaggerate or abuse the power that is given to them," an aspect that Rodriquez sees as "the key to a civilized city." In France, the police and the people think about the consequences of actions, something for which Latin America cannot always say the same.

Image Credit: Unsplash/Chris Karidis

France has a rich culture. Paris especially, with its many museums, historical monuments, parks, and tourist attractions. Initially, it is a strange sensation that you can visit any of these whenever you please - they are close by and easily accessible. AUP junior, Manuela Paz, mentions that she "loves the sensations that she feels knowing she is going to be okay, and that nothing bad will happen," whether she is on public transportation, walking through a museum, or going to the park.

For Segovia, the real charm of living in Paris comes from the "beautiful buildings, the picnics along the Seine, the classical movie theaters with the red chairs, wonderful museums, and most of all, the people." For Rodriquez, it feels as if the Parisian "museums and events are catering to our pleasures."

So when Latin Americans do feel homesick for home, or anywhere else for that matter, remember that the Parisian life is just outside. Go to the café on the corner, sit behind the window with a warm cup of coffee, and watch the rain pour as the world goes by.