I have a very extended experience of overseas travel, even living abroad in New Zealand for a short period of time duirng my University years (I did a "work abroad" in New Zealand for three months and traveled through Australia for 2 1/2 months). I did this at age 19 and did it all by myself, too. I have been to all kinds of countries, rich and poor. I have seen a lot and experienced a lot.... So, I can really say that I don't have the "typical American mentality." What I do have is an American cultural heritage which inevitably causes me to see things here in France as VERY different to things in America.
Hey, it doesn't take ROCKET SCIENCE to figure that out.. Toto... We're not in Kansas anymore!!!!
I think the normal way of things when you move to any new country to live forever-- not just for a short visit-- is to go through the whole aspect of cultural integration if you are to adapt to the new culture... This might mean rejecting that new culture by thinking your former one was wonderful... even better and that you really do miss a lot of things from it.. DARE I SAY, baking supplies?!!! It's kind of like shedding our skin and putting on a new one... There are just so many things involved in adopting a new culture!
Anyhow, I think that part of integrating into and adopting the new culture when you finally feel used to it, that you know what it's about and you can get along on a daily basis without much trouble (not counting things that pop up in life that are indeed troublesome- that happens EVERYWHERE).
What I am finally getting at is that French culture has sooo much history to it and that there are so many things imbedded in the culture (that I had no prior knowledge before moving here) that I really do rely on learning more and more each day about the daily things, the routine things, and the things that lay under the surface at times from a number of different sources, one of them is David.
Thanks to David, I learned a lot more about this thing called, "La grève," (Read the post here) and not just that it's an inconvenient thing that slows down or stops public transport and makes it very inconvenient to get around for many millions of people living in France..
Please stop by and visit David's blog, From The City of Lights, to learn at the strikes as well as many more things in French culture.