Dispatches From the French Homefront: Quick Observations

Our Editor-in-Chief is studying abroad, but still writing for us

by Colleen Burns

Co-Editor-in-Chief

1) Smoking: It is true! People in France smoke! Like a lot! This isn’t really news! MTV worked really hard to educate children in the U.S. about the dangers of smoking, but their efforts were not received well in France because these cancer sticks are clearly still as prominent as ever! It’s silly how a country filled with such tasty food is willing to destroy their taste buds (AND LUNGS) for a quick drag. It should also be noted that French people vape. Yes, this dumb as crap social phenomenon managed to make it to the country of croissants and baguettes. More marketing material for MTV!

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2) Bonjour: Saying hello is a complex aspect of formal etiquette in France. For example, you say “bonjour” to the people you pass in your residence. If you don’t, it’s extremely impolite ; however, you do NOT need to say hello to the people you pass on the street. That is seen as odd and unnecessary. However, you should greet employees with a “bonjour” upon entering a store or else you’ll seem super rude and perhaps risk less than perfect service. Side note: Bonjour becomes Bonsoir in the evening. You will mess up. You will seem stupid. You may get better.

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3) French people do not pick up after their dogs: I don’t understand why there is dog shit everywhere! Clean up after your dogs! France is a beautiful country with breathtaking cities and architecture, but don’t be surprised if you step in a puppy’s present outside a delicious patisserie! This observation is particularly confusing because French people seem to value health and cleanliness a lot. Why doesn’t this apply to your dog’s poop?
4) Blasé everything: French people are blasé about everything. So blasé in fact that there is not an adequate English word to describe this prominent French attribute. Here are a few example that would most likely drive the average American wild: Paying rent does not have a specific deadline and is completed in person. This wouldn’t be a big a deal if the landlord was actually around during the scheduled times. Also, don’t expect a response to any email inquiries right away. Life in France is slower just like its wifi, which isn’t always a bad thing unless you have a research paper due Monday. Their blasé lifestyle also explains why places close for hour long lunch breaks and usually close for the day between 6pm and 8pm.

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5) Appearance: French people do in fact look French. Is it their faces? Is it their cool glasses? Maybe it’s their couture sense of style? This still has yet to be determined, but French people definitely have their own distinguishing look that says, “Im better than you, but let’s not make a big deal about it.” This look is extremely useful and applicable to special events or everyday life scenarios such as job interviews, grocery shopping, people watching, pretending to ignore hot guys at Dunkin Donuts, and your little brother’s girlfriend’s birthday party!

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6) Rudeness: BREAKING NEWS FRENCH PEOPLE ARE NOT RUDE. If you think French people are rude, you have made one or both of these mistakes: You have not taken the time to understand a culture different from your own OR you spent too much time in Paris. France definitely has its own serious problems surrounding topics of immigration and laïcité and so forth. However, those issues mainly apply to people who live in France, not tourists. If you feel French people are rude, perhaps you are unknowingly being rude as well (see number 2 for example). As for Paris, it is one of the TOP tourist destinations in the world. If you worked there serving annoying unaware tourists, you would be a little snarky too. France has a complex culture and society that should not be generalized as rude.

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