Cultural Realizations

Our first full day in Paris began with a trip to Notre Dame. Along the way we looked for ATMs so I could withdraw money to pay for the hostel. But at every ATM my card didn’t work. Now I knew I hadn’t informed my bank that I’d be in France, but for some reason I thought, “This is Europe, everything should work here. My card works in Russia; if it works in Russia then it should definitely work in France.”

But of course it worked in Russia, I’d told my bank I’d be in Russia. Still, I couldn’t help but think that Europe was more modern, safer, had a better infrastructure. Why would my bank doubt this transaction? Of course if Russia popped up on the screen, alarms would be going off, right? After all, Russia means communism, the KGB and danger and France means the Eiffel Tower, fashion and baguettes. I shocked myself with my reaction because even though I’m well aware of the facts (that it doesn’t matter what country you’re in, only that you inform your bank; that France isn’t necessarily safer than Russia, etc.), the stereotypes were the first thing that came to my mind. It’s interesting how I expected to come to Paris and learn about French culture but instead ended up learning so much about myself, about my own culture.

In the end I ended up doing cash back on my credit card with quite a high fee included in the transaction. Not exactly ideal but at least I learned from my mistake and can take satisfaction in the fact that this will never happen again.


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