Oooops! I’ve been missing in action and hardly noticed it. The last couple of weeks have been pretty crazy and there is no end in sight. Saturday will be a no-studying-allowed day, and I’m sure a bit of sanity will be back. In the meantime, I’ve just tried to wrap my head around the idea that I’m going to visit Paris in may! I know, it’s a bit funny that I’m going there after my Erasmus semester in France, but hey, when someone asks me “Do you want me to bring you to Paris next spring?” my answer is “I already booked a room and got train tickets. And planned our breakfasts for the full four days.”
Anyhow, I figured it was time to update the blog… but I don’t have any big news to share! My exams are in three weeks (all six of them… in a four days time span. Urgh)… but I don’t want my blog to die in the meantime!
So, even though I do not have any pictures to offer today, I might share some thoughts.
Now that I’ve been living in France for a few months, I think I have some things to say about the prejudices that gravitate around French people. There are quite a few of course; honestly, I think the French might be the most globally hated population worldwide… or at least the most hated by my friends back home. (The French themselves have their own prejudices – but that’s another story). Here’s some France-as-I-see-it!
The French are rude.
False. The French are absolutely wonderful. If you’re having dinner with french men, they’ll fill up your glass once it’s empty (and I only drink water, because I know what you’re thinking); if you ask someone to take your picture, they’ll stop to make small talk and offer a tip about sightseeing; they’ll always greet you with a smile, say thank you, compliment your french and answer you questions politely – even if it’s the hunderth time you ask about adding an exam to your study plan.
The French are cold.
True. While they’ll be charming as they can be, they don’t take a single step if you don’t. I always have to be the first one to make conversation; afterwards they quickly warm up, but they’ll usually ignore your existence if you don’t. This is especially true for students: there are people in one of my classes that look at me like I’m a weird alien from another galaxy and won’t even answer my bonjours. I suspect they’re pathologically weird though… that wouldn’t be unexpected from Classics students.
(Note: yesterday a french student spontaneously started a conversation with me… I was astonished. Today, I found out he’s from Luxembourg! Now it makes sense.)
Every single French man is a tombeur de femme.
False. I think. I do not go out very often, but all the guys who’ve been hitting on me in the past three months were foreigners. The French are just not interested in foreign students… or at least not in this one! (This is ok, don’t get me wrong…)
French men are effeminate.
False. Most are taller, bigger and more “statuesque” than I thought. This is probably a stereotype from the US, so maybe all Europeans are effeminates for them, but I find them pretty manly.
The French stink/aren’t clean people.
False/True. They might not be as clean as Italians, but I have only found the occasional person smelling bad enough to want to step a little further. Not more than in Italy anyway. On the other hand, it’s true that the shower cabins in the residence are almost always vacant, and that the kitchens are disgusting even though the sweetest femme de menage comes to clean it every 8 am. Then again, if the French leave the kitchen in a miserable state, you don’t want to see it after the Germans have been in there for a meal…
French toilets are disgusting.
False! I’ve never seen public toilets being cleaned more often or thoroughly. There are public toilets in Place Kléber (the central square) that are as clean as mine back home! (I miss having my own bathroom). I always tip – which is my choice because they’re clean and free! I’ve never seen anything like that in Italy. Never.
Everybody smokes in France.
False. I think there are less smokers than we have in Italy, and they’re way more respectful here. I never see cigarette butts on the ground (that’ll be something I’ll have a hard time getting used to again in Italy) and they don’t smoke were they’re not allowed to.
The French don’t speak any language apart from their own.
True? I don’t really know what to answer here (since I’ve only spoke french and some italian and german since I’m here), so I’ll go with something a french girl told me: the French don’t like to speak foreign languages because they’re such language-perfectionists that they’re ashamed to speak a language they don’t master perfectly. While someone has found this to be ridiculous, i think it’s actually pretty true: linguistics studies are a big hit in universities, you’ll find books about perfect french ortography everywhere and they’re very ashamed of even small mistakes (french ortography is horribly difficult when it comes down to details!). On the other hand, they’re always happy to learn the occasional italian word or expression, and after I’ve spelled it out for them they’ll say it again and again stretching out every vowel. Usually cute!
French food is good but something made for expensive restaurants only.
True and false. French food and alsatian food are different, but both good. I don’t understand why it should be expensive abroad since it’s not pricey to make (it’s not like sushi, for instance). Gourmet restaurants aren’t so common here and there is some very good and unexpensive street food! (Bretzels being the most common)
French fashion is the best any woman could wear and french women are always elegant.
False. I saw a lot of horrible stuff in shops. Fortunately I’m not a shopaholic, but whenever I’ve been in need of clothes I’ve been at a loss. Even the brands I usually buy at in Italy (my favourite being Cache cache, which, guess what, is french!) have nicer pieces available in Italy. They have some bad taste here… which I think is compensated by the fact that french girls/women usually have beautiful bodies with long legs. so basically anything looks good on them. They are very aware of that, which unfortunately brings them to wear horribly skimpy outfits as long as it’s possible (october this year).
France is expensive.
True. Alas, true. Can’t wait to get back to Italy and get cheap fruit and vegetables!
Well, it’s late, and this France-loving girl still has to shower and get greek/french translations covered before going to bed. Good night!