GirlGI | Girl Gone International GirlGI Issue 4 - Page 67

The autumn sun was glistening off the cobblestones of the rue Montorgueil in central Paris, bustling with leisurely shoppers and relaxed café-goers basking in possibly the last rays of the season. I round a corner, coming eye to eye with a sexy stranger, causing my smile – brought on by the glorious weather – to widen a touch further. Suddenly, he appears by my side. ‘Voulez-vous prendre un café?’ A surprising and seductive invitation... could finding romance in Paris be so easy? Many expats follow their hearts abroad, some joining their relocated partners, others chasing their dreams and searching for love along the way. At the start, I was compelled to Paris for the latter reason, drawn by an intense love of the city and not of a particular Parisian, however, the romantic capital of the world has been adamantly trying to prove its reputation to me since moving here 13 years ago. I do have to admit, being a single girl in a foreign country is certainly exciting, nevertheless, it can be a completely different ballgame, akin to a North American quarterback being tossed onto a European ‘football’ pitch. The game might have the same name, but the rules are far from the same. But isn’t there an international language of love? It’s true that the first attraction is often sparked by a mutual chemistry without exchanging a word, nonetheless, it can be difficult to get to or even through a first date if you can’t communicate with your new suitor. Having a good grasp of the local language does help, though there are still many linguistic land mines to navigate. For example, in French the words for lower, kiss and have sex are virtually the same… and thus if mispronounced can easily lead to varying degrees of embarrassment or trouble! Even if you surpass these minor initial hurdles, it can be hard to fully express feelings in another language and some things will always be lost in translation, a difficult issue to overcome even after many years in your foreign home. Language aside, dating and courting norms can vary greatly from country to country. It’s been frequently observed that French, Spanish or Italian men are much more forward than their Anglophone adversaries. When discussing this with a French male friend, he explained that if he found a woman attractive then certainly other men did as well, therefore one had to act quickly before missing his chance. This doesn’t mean les femmes, mujeres or donne from those countries are as forward as their male counterparts. Au contraire. They may give those sultry come hither looks, yet they expect their ocular targets to be the ones stepping up to the plate. ‘Monsieur Cupid really does strike at the right moment. Don’t wait for his arrow, as you might be strolling down a picturesque Parisian street or at your desk in a Hong Kong high-rise.’ A flirtatious foreign fille might miss her mark. This forwardness is not only saved for the first encounter. From my experience with the