Culture shock – a year later

I’ve been living in France for 1 year. Wow! Time went by really fast!

Although it wasn’t the first time I had to adapt to living in a different country, contrary to my belief, this past year has been a challenging one. All in all, I learnt the hard way some important life lessons and lived some memorable moments.

When I met Nicolas, I was very intrigued about his culture and I quickly became very curious about how he was brought up. And when we decided to move to France, I was excited to experience raising our son in the same place where his daddy grew up. I was also excited to discover the everyday life in France, to meet new people and upgrade my language skills.

Today, a year later, I am still adjusting and learning. Below are some totally random things that I have seen/discovered/learnt/made me wonder/baffled me as a result of living in France for the past year:

1/ French people eat a slice of cheese for dessert. One day  I asked Paul what did he eat  at school for dessert and he answered « cheese ». At that moment I looked at my husband in wonder : « Did he really? » Where I came from, we eat cheese with tomatoes and cucumbers. To my surprise – yes, cheese can be a dessert and you can even eat it with jelly. How delightful! 🙂

2/ Most of the couples around us don’t really care about getting married, diamond rings, wedding celebrations…the whole marriage deal. Instead, they prefer travelling and/or investing their money into buying a house or saving. The French even created a social status called PACS, which gained so much popularity among couples who want to take it to the next level without getting married.

3/ I find French people to be very opinionated. It suffices to turn on the radio at any hour of the day and hear plenty of talk shows about politics/current events/cultural events/books/social issues. It is very common to hear debates on everything and anything among friends, neighbors, strangers while waiting in line to buy a French baguette. I find that plain out awesome!

4/ French people do eat fast-food and diners are gaining in popularity in our area. All the people we know who travelled to the US, had nothing but great words about their trip and want to return in the near future.

5/ Watching a movie in France is a horrendous experience for me. The majority of foreign movies/series/shows are dubbed. I find it so distracting and inauthentic.  For example,  chances are that French people don’t even know what Jennifer Aniston’s real voice sounds like.

6/ They have a radio talk-show from Monday-Friday, hosted by a former porn-actress who openly discusses sex-related issues from 2-4 PM.

7/ The French school system is still a total enigma for me. I still have a hard time when my husband tells me stories from CM2…I rapidly reply: « How old were you? » to realize that he’s talking about 4th Grade.

8/ They eat snails, calf’s head, pork sausage made with pig’s blood things I consider « wierd ».

9/ The concept of « parapharmacie » got me all pumped up when looking for a place to buy cosmetics. A parapharmacie is a hybrid between a pharmacy and a supermarket for hygiene products. I love the pharmacy look (everything is all lined up and proper) and the diversity of the line of products. The downside is that prices are 10-20% above supermarket cosmetics.

10/ Despite the common misconception that French women never shave, I have to say that 100% of the women in my entourage do shave and that beauty salons thrive with customers who use their hair removal services.




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