Thursday, January 27, 2011

some MORE observations (it's like it never ends...)

Seriously, I'm not even close to covering it all.

But here's to trying! :)
So, including some new ones, some old ones I forgot about, and some I just didn't think to add before:

- eggs are refrigerated at home, but not at the grocery store.
- there's some dodgy sinelli's-type stuff - like, "oh, spinelli's!" but there's this interesting ferment-y sort of aftertaste...
- fermented milk also exists. and I don't mean cheese or something (though that is also rather plentiful), just literally fermented milk.
- i forgot the world for lettuce in english! :D i thought we didn't have a word for it. valentin suggested that maybe it was because we're american and therefore ignorant of all things green and leafy.. ^^
- pretty much everything is closed on sunday and at lunchtime. (except lunchtime sandwich shops and grocery stroes, etc.)
- lunch is also eaten pretty much right at noon. like, you don't call it a "dejeuner" like you learn in french class. you just say "what are you eating at noon?"
* turns out you don't say "dîner" either - it's le repas du midi for lunch and le repas du soir for dinner. if you say the other ones, people with think you're being hokey, because i guess only the bourgeois talk that way. :)
- old stuff really isn't impressive to french people. i thought they were just sort of hiding their secret passions for architecture and gloriously extravagant old artifacts so as not to seem too touristy or something (sure doesn't stop me from taking hundreds of photos). but they really just don't notice. how sad.
- to confirm some stereotypes: pretty much everyone smokes. everybody's super in-shape (and yet you never, ever see people exercising...). you get dressed when you leave your house (this does not include sweatshirts or sweatpants, ever - unless they're super-stylin', but that takes away the comfy aspect in any case, so it's not the same). and i think their health care system blows ours out of the water (they tell me that a lot, anyway).
- to dispel a couple of rumors: they do shower. ;) and there are plenty of french people that don't like snails or oysters.
- yogurt and fruit are dessert foods.
- they cut their food differently. it's like an opposite pulling motion with your knife and your fork, and it's about a hundred times more effective.
- they put forks on the left of the plate. is that different? i don't even know. :P
- they put dessert spoons above the plate. because dessert is always eaten, and always eaten with a dessert spoon.
- they change english product names and movie titles to other english names that are apparently easier to understand. (frosted flakes --> frosties)
- masculinity is an entirely different affair over here. at first it sort of freaked me out that there were boys kissing each others cheeks and wearing fancy sweaters and carrying bags. then it was more like, "ooh. okay it's not so bad..." :)
then i just kinda got used to it.
but it really is different. i guess it's like, in america, masculinity is not having to do any upkeep oon yourself - and in europe, masculinity is about being able to - the dressing well, the gallantry (although there are definitely plenty of exceptions on that one), the composing of onesself.
- as a matter of fact, i think that sort of applies to the general population of the two places.
in amercica, it's okay - even cool - to be sloppy every now and then. like "i'm so cool, i can be sloppy and still be cool!"
and here, it's more like, "i'm cool because i know everything there is to know about being cool and how to put it into unfailing action. i'm cool because i'm always cool."
- they have detention. it's on wednesday afternoon, because usually wednesdays are over at noon (except in elementary school - there's no school at all on wednesday). It's called colle, which means glue. So, it's like they're... glued.. to detention...
- They have way more cuss words than we do. it's kind of alarming.
- They're also much more lax about using them. This week I saw a teacher cuss out a bunch of students in the hallway, and it's totally okay to swear in class.
- It's also totally okay to show really inappropriate things in class. Or on T.V., or in an ad... or anywhere, really. Also quite alarming.
- while I'm on the subject of quite alarming, there's also a whole dang lot of smoking going on. like, you may think you know what i'm talking about, but multiply that by 500 and you might be getting close. so nasty.
- on a more positive note, there are lots of quaint little things that you just don't see in america. like little boulangeries, charcuteruies, candy shops... like in the old days when hamburgers cost a dime and stuff.
- Brittany has a lot of... regional pride. Not in a stupid sort of prideful way, in a "this place is awesome, and I'm proud to be from it" sort of way. I really like it, because it's sort of the equivalent of state pride or school pride or even swimteam pride - but you don't really see that a lot here. Except in Brittany. :)
- Speaking of great things from Brittany, caramel au beurre salé. oh good gracious, that stuff is scrumptious. :D

There's tons more, but you know... you just gotta come to France to really know. :)
And if you do, take me with you!


  1. katie you do such a great job of painting a picture of what it's really like to be french!! I love it!! I can't wait for the movie of "La Vie De Katie" :)

  2. France is a great country and their culture is great. They are so relaxed I think :)
    I found some "testimonies" about France here
    Erasmus exchange in France
    but they dont describe it as good as you. Post on that forum and give them a better picture :))