Thursday, September 3, 2009
You know, it’s really interesting. I’ve never been faced with how American I actually am until I came here. I mean, it makes perfect sense, but I just didn’t think I would be faced with it so clearly. The eating habits f the French, for example, is where I see the biggest contrast, I think. The French take food very seriously, as I already knew. Food is associated with relaxation and is never mixed with work, school, or transit. This is the complete opposite of the American lifestyle in which I was raised. We’re always on the go. We eat on the bus, in the car, grab a coffee and drink it on the way to work. That’s just how we do things, and I never though to question it. At school, we finish up our homework while we eat breakfast, or we grab a meal to go because we don’t have time to eat. I have found that the French find this appalling and completely illogical. No on eats on the metro, no one munches their baguette while walking I was really frustrated the first week because I really wanted coffee, but with the exception of Starbucks (American), there was absolutely nowhere to order a coffee ‘a emporter’ (to go). In talking to Jerome, an art history professor and one of our instructors during our orientation, he said that it shocked him just to see us drinking coffee during his class. I don’t think he was insulted; it was just so backwards to him. It was then that I realized how built into me that on-the-go attitude is. To be honest, I love getting coffee on the go, ad drinking it in class. It doesn’t make it less enjoyable to me; I almost feel that I enjoy the class more because I’m drinking something good while in it, if that makes any sense at all. It’s just so different, I can’t even get over it. Americans snack all the time, it doesn’t matter where we are, we still enjoy the food. On a similar vein, it was funny because during Jerome's class, he said that we could take a ‘petite pose’ (break), and we all assumed, ok 5 minutes. No, his version of a little break was 20 minutes! I always knew how much the French, and Europeans in general, appreciated and valued time to relax and enjoy food and friends, but I never realized how much of that opposite culture was built into me. I wonder if that will change after 9 months of being here. I have no idea, but it will be interesting to find out, as well as to discover other ways in which I am, actually, very un-French.