Nervous about relocating to London? Well, I think I can safely assure your move to London, England won’t be as traumatic as what’s come to be known as “Paris Syndrome.”
I have to write about this recent article in the BBC News: “‘Paris Syndrome’ Strikes Japanese” – mainly because I’m stupefied by it. I’ve traveled to Paris four times before (oddly enough, though, not yet since moving to London!) and won’t contest that the attitude takes some getting used to, not that you’d ever want to get used to rudeness. Paris is a popular weekend excursion for those living in London because it’s so easily accessed via the Eurostar. The Eurostar train gets you there within three hours by way of the “Chunnel” beneath the English Channel (if you can get through that half-hour of sheer blackness out the window knowing you’re in a hollow beneath a massive amount of water, you’re good to go!). It is, perhaps, the rapidity of this transport that can make it that much more jarring to step off the train and into the pushy crowds, which are much worse in contrast to those in London’s stations. So, yes, it’s true that Parisians (not to be confused with the French in general any more than you’d generalize the English based only on Londoners) do get rather shove-y and unpleasant; they’re not going to go out of their way to help you with directions or admit to speaking impeccable English (at least not until after making you feel horrible that you can’t speak impeccable French).
That said, Paris is an enchanting city true to so much that it’s built up to be – it is not overrated and totally worth the trip after your London move. But to finally explain what “Paris Syndrome” is, it goes a lil’ somethin’ like this:
“That is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations. […]
Many of the visitors come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris – the cobbled streets, as seen in the film Amelie, the beauty of French women or the high culture and art at the Louvre.
The reality can come as a shock.”
The article goes on to mention how Westerners are usually able to laugh off Parisian rudeness, but the Japanese can be overwhelmed when out of their usual element of politeness and quieter, kinder voices. No kidding, this year the Japanese embassy in Paris has had to send four Japanese citizens back home with someone of the medical profession on board to calm them from the extreme stress, if not a mental breakdown. Up to twelve tourists suffer from this per year on average, and the embassy has a 24-hour hotline set up for just such instances.
So apparently Paris is not for the faint of heart – ye be warned. But as I said from the beginning, I don’t think you’ll have to worry in the UK – I’ve yet to hear of a “London Syndrome” and have witnessed first-hand how friendly the people are; and hey, if you’re an English speaker, they speak the language! Every city is going to be more stressful than more remote towns, though, and people can be inconsiderate on the sidewalks here, albeit not through deliberate rudeness as much as sheer oblivion of each other. In general, the British are renowned for their polite amiability, so don’t be afraid to step foot outside of your new London apartment. 🙂