Americans are really proud. Proud of who they are, proud of where they live and proud of what they do. They also want to share it to others, which creates a very strong community spirit. This is very interesting for me as a French exchange student, because it is considered very haughty to be proud in France. Let me illustrate this thought with three examples!
1. Your country
Americans really love their country! And I do understand them: the USA is a beautiful country, full of many cultures and landscapes.
You like to show your flag, sing your anthem, and know about your history and geography.
Well, the French are not the same. You will never see a French flag elsewhere than on a governmental building. Showing off a French flag is considered chauvinist and very closed-minded.
Also, we do not really know our anthem. We know the melody, but really few of us actually know the lyrics. Notice our soccer players next time they play a game: It’s really hard to find one who actually know the song. They usually try to play back discreetly so no one really notices.
We are more proud of our regions, through their traditions, foods and wines. We love to talk about our hometowns to others, to share wine and our specials. We like to bring some of our traditional food and wine to friends and family from other regions.
Bretagne (Britanny) is the region in France known to have the greatest pride. You can see the flag of the region everywhere there, and there are really proud of it. (By the way, just saying, but crepes come from this region!)
Moreover, we usually are so proud of our regions that we may sound snobbish to other regions sometimes. But it’s more like there is a friendly teasing competition among us.
For instance, I’m from the South West of France. There, we use the word “chocolatines” (to talk about chocolate croissants) and we have a very fat cuisine which is based on duck, seashells, vegetables, a lot of fat and a lot of red wine. In the North, in Paris for example, they use the word “pains au chocolat” (to talk about the same pastry), and they have fancier cuisine.
So we like to tease each other with those differences: people from the South saying that Parisians are snobbish and stranded, and Parisians saying that people from the South are graceless and peasants.
But it’s okay, it’s just teasing!
I’ve been to L.A. recently. I’ve seen homeless people and I’ve seen successful people who obviously had a lot of money. Everyone seemed to live in harmony though. Haughtiness does not seem to be a thing here.
In France, it is considered really arrogant and snobbish to show off your money. We never talk about money. We don’t really talk about our success, because we do not want to hurt each others’ feelings, who might feel jealousy or misery.
It can be considered really rude for someone “poor” to hear about the great life of his or her “rich” friend, so this subject is usually avoided to not create a war.
For example, bosses sometimes have a different car to go to work than the nice brand new one they have at home. Also, rich people usually are not too glamorous. They don’t want the attention on them, so they usually remain discrete about clothes, house and so forth.
In my article from last week, I already told you that we do not choose our classes in high school. Well, we don’t do it in college either. We do not have huge universities composed of all the colleges, allowing you to mix classes. We actually get registered in one specific college (for example, psychology. Or arts. Or English language), and then we stick to one specific path already chosen for us, only in this specific field we chose.
This is also why we really struggle when we get to make this choice at 18.
Also, we are really more discrete about our passions. We actually only talk about it snobbishly, or we just don’t.
As a matter of fact, lots of people in France do not have passions. Simply because hobbies are not really encouraged in middle school and high school.
Also, our usual schedule is composed of classes from 8am to 6pm, from Mondays to Fridays (or even Saturday morning sometimes): which does not allow enough free time to pursue a hobby, or to really get involved in them as you guys do here.
Thank you for reading this little brief!
PS: I’m planning on writing on dating and flirting differences among France and USA. And I need your help for that! May you have 2 minutes to fill up an anonymous survey, please follow this link, so I can start working on it: https://goo.gl/forms/L36w2apvux0Mx6k63
Floriane Simondet is a graduate exchange student from France, majoring in business administration.
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