Friday, 5 March 2010


So switching cultures for a minute to chat about my trip to France.  In two words:  TRES BIEN!  I now understand why people say English food is so boring.  I wasn't that bothered by the food here before the trip, but after 12 days in France, the last thing I was excited about returning to in England was the food.  Yes, fish and chips are yummy, but only every once in a while (sorry to any of my British friends).  I even ate rabbit with prunes and enjoyed it while in Paris!  To back track a little bit, because of the way the British have their educational calendar set up, about every 2-3 months the kids get a week off.  Being someone who's job revolves mostly around the academic calendar, this means every 2-3 months I  get a week off too!  (It's a beautiful thing).  So for the half-term break in February (plus a little while longer) I went to go visit my friend Fannie, who I haven't seen for 7 YEARS!  (She had come to stay with my family as a type of exchange program for one month when I was 16.  Boy, were those pictures funny to look at again!).  She lives in Lyon which is in the south of France.  Seeing her again was wonderful and meeting all of her family and friends was equally great.  After those very very quick 5 days, I went up to Paris.  So here's some French stereotypes that lived up to all the hype:

The food - amazing, as previously stated but can never be stated too much.
The wine - see above statement.
The cheese - follow previous instructions
The bread - yum.  And I tried to contain my laughter the first time I saw someone walking down the sidewalk carrying a baguette (a site I some many many times each day).
The deserts - oh my goodness... there are no words...

The beret - definitely worn, and not just by tourists.  The best site was when I saw a man wearing a beret carrying a baguette.  C'est perfect!

Paris - It really is a gorgeous city.  And one that just has such a lovely feel you can be perfectly happy just walking around for a day without a specific destination (which I did a little).  As for the city of love... lived up to that one too in terms of the amount of PDA I saw, however I'm thinking that the bulk of those couples were tourists so I'm not sure if that counts as a true stereotype or not...

Some that didn't live up to the hype:

The people - They aren't rude, English speakers are just impolite!  If you just say "excusé moi" to someone it's like saying "Exxcccccuuuuuuuse me" to someone (imagine the attitude here).  Instead, "Excusé moi, vous voulez"  aka "Excuse me, if it pleases you."  Yes in English, it sounds a bit over the top, but the French are very picky about their vocab.  But maybe the part that I thought was really over the top was the necessity to go about this when asking a worker at say, a museum, where the toilets are.  When they are just sitting on their stools waiting to help people, because that's their job, I don't quite understand the importance of all the formality.  But then again, I definitely have become aware (in more than one country) of how informal us Americans really are.  Whoops!

Some things I hope to borrow from the French:

Eating slowly!  Lunch is the main meal of the day (another thing that would be good to adapt, since it's healthier to eat more in the middle of the day and less at night) and it generally took at least an hour and a half.  Instead of putting all of the food on the table at once and shoveling it in, each bit comes as it's own course.  Usually 1. salad  2. main  3. cheese  4. desert  5. cafe    At night in Paris it was always soup first instead of salad which is very traditional (aka not done so often anymore).

Deserts after every meal?  However, desert after dinner was usually fruit.  Adapting fruit as a desert wouldn't be a bad thing for my pants' size though!  :-p

The pace of life.  This is actually something to borrow from Europe in general.  It's now very obvious how obsessed America is with efficiency.  Always, go go go!  Gotta get as much done as we possibly can.  But taking an hour and a half to sit down for lunch with people is ssooooo much better than eating at your computer!

Since the slightly slower pace (however still capable of being productive, just more balanced) applies to the UK as well, I'll take this opportunity for a segway...

To get back to the original format of this blog  (for those of you interested, hopefully by the end of this weekend I'll have sorted through my 8gbs worth of pictures and post them if you want to know more about what I actually did on my holiday/vacation):

British vs. American

Mars bar vs. Milky Way
Milky Way vs. 3 Musketeers
Nikon (pronounced as Nickon) vs. Nikon  (Thank you to my friend Craig for owning one so that this was brought to laugh.  Sorry to said friend for laughing at him when he said it!)


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  3. I feel bad that most of my comments consist of corrections, but a Milkyway in England is pretty different from a 3 Musketeers because in a 3 Musketeers is nougat and Milkyway have more of milky taste, not nougat (which is just whipped chocolate). That's being REALLY picky, but being less picky is the French.
    Saying "Excusé moi, vous voulez" literally translates as formally saying "Excuse me, you would." It could be a shortened version of "Excusé moi, si vous voulez," which would be "Excuse me, if you would."
    What you were probably hearing, which really does mean "Excuse me, if it pleases you" is "Excusé moi, s'il vous plait" which sounds surprisingly similar when you say it quickly.

    Anyway, that's all. I hope things continue to go swimmingly.

  4. Wow, that was annoying... google kept rearranging my post so it didn't say what I wanted it to....

  5. garrett my friend... while obviously your knowledge of british culture is far above my one year's worth of observations, i'm going to have to correct you on your french. i promise, it's not excusé moi, s'il vous plait. i know this 1. b/c i remembered enough of my 4 years of h.s. french to decipher a thing or two and 2. b/c as i was discussing the politeness level with some of the people i was staying with, the option for "excusé moi, s'il vous plait" came up, which is considered just as rude. so sorry, nope. it was "excusé moi, vous voulez" which yes, translated literally is, "excuse me, you would" however, just as the english shorten sayings, use contractions, etc. etc. so do the french. so yes, the long and grammatically correct version would be "excusé moi, si vous voulez" but in conversation the "si" often gets dropped or is so smushed in there you don't even hear it.