I’d just like to say that all my answers are based on observations and information from life in Paris. Paris, although the capital and an amazing city, does not represent the entire country and things may be different in other parts of France. Sorry for the delay, the 5th was my birthday and I spent the weekend in Normandie, which was amazing!!
1.Do people in France like Nicolas Sarkozy? (Ryan)
From what I have gathered, a lot of the Parisians are frustrated with Mr. Sarkozy.Since his election in April 2007 many feel that he has not accomplished much and just talks about doing things.He is also being criticized for trying to “American-ize” parts of the French political system. (For example French presidents can/will now give a speech like our State of the Union address which had never existed before Sarkozy)I’ve heard some people compare him to President George W. Bush but the French do not express their dislike like Americans did of Bush.Also, Sarko (as the French call him) has had some drama since his election.He got divorced a few months after being elected and then remarried a significantly younger model, Carla Bruni.The French don’t mind this as much as Americans do (politicians lives are more private here than in the U.S.) but it did cause a little stir in the media people said.More recently, Sarkoy’s son, Jean, may be appointedto head the public agency running Paris’s La Défense, which is one of Europe’s biggest business districts.This is controversial for many reasons: 1) Jean is only 23 and lacks experience. 2) He is not finished with his studies (and is a little behind in them) 3) The French are afraid of a Sarkozy dynasty.Jean is not officially appointed yet but his nomination worries the Parisians.Some people are even starting to joke/mock by calling him “Nicolas 1er”.Also, Sarkozy’s overall approval ratings have continued to lower over time, so I’d say the French are not too pleased with what Sarko has done so far.
2. How is it interacting with people in France who have been speaking French their whole lives? (Samantha)
Interacting with Parisians is quite an interesting experience.Generally they are helpful and will be patient but you MUST start speaking in French to them right away.I’ve seen many foreigners start off in their own language and the Parisians get frustrated.However, there is a slight paradox—the French want you to speak in French to them but if they can pick out your accent (like my American one) they will respond to you in that language.(Most want to practice their English!)I’ve found that many waiters at bigger restaurants will change into English very quickly, which gets a little frustrating but my friends and I just continue to speak in French.Most of the time people will speak in French but they speak SO quickly that sometimes you have to take a second to process.I really enjoy going to small cafés near where I live (Bastille area- 11eme arrondissement) and chatting with the owners, who also double as waiters.They will speak in French and help you out when you get stuck!Most say they like my American accent, which I find interesting because I figured they’d get annoyed with it!
3. How is the food in France? (Eddie)
The food is delicious!!! The bread is seriously the best I’ve ever had and it is made fresh daily!I love seeing the long lines of people waiting at the local Boulangeries to buy baguettes for dinner.The cheese is also really good!Before I left I did not really like cheese but I can’t help but eat it here! Also, the chocolate is richer and I like it much better!Hershey’s doesn’t even compare!Meals are a little different here.Breakfast is usually some toast with jam or croissant and tea or water.Cereal is getting pretty popular here, too.Overall, breakfast is a lot smaller than breakfasts we have in the U.S.Lunch for the student is usually a sandwich from a Boulangerie (on a baguette, so good!!) or a meal you can heat up in the microwave from Monoprix or Francprix (they are MUCH smaller versions of something like Roche Bros.) but they have a “Le Snacking” section with microwaves to heat up the food you just bought so you can eat it right away. Kind of cool!I live with a host family and dinners usually involve chicken, fish, or red meat, bread, water, sometimes wine!, and dessert!It changes every night but my host mom is a great cook!Paris is an expensive city so I try not to dine out often but generally you can get a good lunch for 7-10 Euros and a good dinner for 16-23 Euros.Dining out is always nice because you can take your time, enjoy the food and drinks, and just relax with friends.It’s not as rushed as in the States.
4. Is the culture over in France significantly different than it is in America?(Elizabeth)
For two modern, Western countries the culture is quite different!Life in Paris is different than other parts of France but overall the French are quite different than Americans.I read somewhere recently that the French and Japanese have more in common culturally than the French and Americans do!!Overall, Parisians are a lot more ‘cold’ than Americans are in the sense that Americans are much more welcoming and open.People smile significantly less here and only speak to people they know.Public displays of affection are totally acceptable (anywhere!) and commercials/ads have a lot more sex appeal in them.Meals can take over 3 hours and the pace of life is much more relaxed here.Portions and sizes of things are very small compared to what we have in the States.It is true, the French truly love soccer! (Italy is their main rival.)There are a lot more/ a wide variety of differences in culture but it’s hard to think of some off the top of my head. If you can specify a little more I will gladly answer your question more completely! Also, I touch on some cultural aspects in the other responses!!
5. Do the teenagers in France dress in similar clothes as the US teenagers do? (Amanda)
Teenagers wear similar clothing but it’s not quite the same.A lot of American brands are becoming popular (Levis, Chucks, etc) and there is a TON of clothing with English on it.(A lot of I heart NY shirts…I find that weird! Haha Teenagers usually wear jeans and a t-shirt (with more accessories!) but the older in age the more fashionable they get.Kids in middle school here dress more in the jeans, t-shirt, and chucks but kids in high school wear nicer clothes (usually black, brown or grey) with a nice coat, nice shoes, and a scarf of course! (Both genders wear scarves)Girls were heels a lot younger than we do and guys dress a lot nicer than American boys.Barely anyone wears sweatpants or sweatshirts in public.France is the fashion capital of the world for a reason…an outfit is like a piece of art here, no matter what age!Something very in for girls is wearing dark jean shorts with funky patterned tights on underneath…anything goes here!Overall the clothes are a lot more form fitting for guys and girls here…no baggy style!Also, no one wears sneakers (except chucks)!There are some similarities but it is pretty different!
6. What’s a normal day in France like? (Emma)
I’m not sure if a “normal” day exists for me here…everyday is something new and always an adventure, I never know what to expect!My classes are once a week for 3 hours (except Poli Sci is 4 hours and Langue francaise is 3 hours, twice a week) so I’m in class quite often… Mondays 2-5pm, Tuesdays 9am-5pm, Wednesdays 10am-1pm, Thursdays 9am-6pm, and Fridays I don’t have class!! During the weekends and time I’m not in class I try to take advantage of all the city offers as much as possible.I’ve been to some museums and I love just wandering around and exploring different parts of the city and stumbling on places I might not have otherwise.I have a NaviGo (which is the new version of the Carte Orange) so I can use the metro as much as I want so I’m always hopping on and off!I love hanging out in Bastille, it has so much- good food, shopping, and cafes!! I just try to take in everything I can about each day because there is always something going on before or after classes!!Sorry if that isn’t very specific!
7. What is the best part of being in France? (Craig)
How can I pick just one thing?! I’d have to say just being able to experience life in a different culture/part of the world is really amazing!Parisian life is so unique and I feel lucky to be able to see it 24/7 and participate in it!The bread, chocolate, and cheeses are SO MUCH better here, too! HahaAnd Paris has SO MUCH to offer (museums, cafes, historical sites, clubs, gardens, shopping, etc etc) that I truly think it’s la crème de la crème of cities!!And also being able to travel throughout Europe is such a fantastic opportunity, but coming home to Paris is a great feeling.I truly love this city!
8. I heard people in France are as rude as they can be here. Are people treating you alright? (Brittany)
Well, there are rude people all over the world but I think the main confusion is the cultural difference between the French and Americans in regard to their interaction with strangers.Parisians are just more closed off in general than Americans are used to.One major difference is that they barely smile here in public but Americans are always smiling!It’s not that they are mean or rude it’s just not how their culture works.Of course there are some rude people here and but the majority of the people I have interacted with are very nice, friendly, and helpful! J
9.What is the most popular style of music in France? (Mike)
Techno. Techno. And more Techno. Haha But other than techno a lot of American music is present in Paris as well as music from other countries.The French have their own singers and there is a lot of French pop and rap that plays in the stores.I found out from a professor that there is a limit to the amount of non-French music that can play in each store each day.I thought that was interesting.Just another example of the French making sure their language and culture stays alive!
10. Do they celebrate Halloween in France? (Cassie)
Halloween never really stuck in France, and was especially difficult for the Parisians.The French see it as a commercial holiday without a real purpose and it has not been in their culture so they don’t really understand it completely.Also, in Paris all the apartments have codes or keys to get into the building which makes Trick-or-Treating difficult because the codes are kept private for security.Also, there is a cultural issue as someone random knocking on your door in France, expecting something, is just not the norm.In France, you must be invited over and generally you bring a small gift when you go to someone’s house.Very different from the States!There were little Halloween decorations here and there at some pubs (mostly the Irish ones) but no special candies, jack-o-lanterns, or anything like that!I have to say October was a little strange without Halloween decorations/costumes everywhere!
11. If you don’t understand something in French, do the French people think you are less intelligent than they are? (Rachel)
Generally, people try and help you out when you get stuck or confused so long as you are trying to do so in French.My professors here are fantastic, as is my host family, and even people on the street/in stores are friendly.I was randomly looking to buy a little crown and I totally forgot the word was “couronne” so I had to describe it to the man in the store as “un chapeau d’une princesse qui a bijoux” and I personally felt stupid because I was forgetting such a simple word but the man was totally helpful and knew what I was talking about.He didn’t seem annoyed and was friendly to me the entire time.You just have to try and people will help and not look down on you!And if people speak to quickly I’ll just politely ask them to repeat what they said slower and they do without any problems.It’s all about trying and being polite!!
12. Do French people really like to party? (Tom)
The French don’t party in the same way that Americans do.The drinking age here is 16 (for beer and wine) and 18 (for hard alcohol) but no one really IDs and so people as young as 13 can get alcohol without a problem.It is not as taboo here as it is in the U.S. so getting drunk is not as hyped up here.Also, it is seen as “disgusting” to be drunk in public (like in bars, cafés, etc) and Americans tend to get a bad reputation because they aren’t used to be served so easily.The French do drink, but it is more to enjoy the alcohol then to get drunk.Of course the younger people, drink a little more, and there are more drunk people at clubs but overall most people hang out and relax in cafés and bars until 2am.The drink to enjoy their company and the actual beverage, my host family was surprised when I told him that the majority of people my age drink to get drunk… the attitude towards alcohol is very different in Europe than in the States.