A few things I've noticed . . .

These are just some observations/differences, readily apparent to me, between France and America:
  • Les Bisoux: Everyone knows the French do the double kiss, one on each cheek, here called les bisoux, but it is still rather surprising when you're an american, I find. If you are a girl then you use les bisx all the time, for everyone, hello and goodbye. However, if you are a guy, you use les bsx only with girls and family, everyone else is handshake material. If you meet someone for the first time you use les bsx; they are not a display of affection, just a greeting. They are used all the time here, always! I found this especially interesting when compared with the american counter part. When we meet someone for the first time we either, shake their hand if it's formal, hug them, if we have heard a lot about them, or if they are family we've just never met, etc., or we just nod and smile and give them the once over. We don't shake people's hands after we've met them; we simply don't. I have come to the conclusion that either a. the French have no personal boundaries, or b. the French are much nicer, more civilized people, who prefer to greet others with a kiss on the cheek, rather than eye them up and down from afar. Personally, I prefer option b!
  • Tests: this one is very simple...I have discovered the word for tests here is interrogations. This rather frightened and intimidated me on my first day of school, as that's when I found out every Saturday we go to school and take an 'interrogation' in a specified subject, which changes weekly!
  • Breakfast: I love breakfast! I mean everywhere, not just here, I simply love this meal. Probably I love it because it affords the breakfaster so many options: sweet or savory, almost any kind of meat, toast or bread, or some sort of other goodie like a muffin or pastry. Hot or Cold, quick or slow, doesn't matter. Anyway, here in France breakfast is just that much better, because not only does one have the option of real French pastries from the local boulangerie, although this option is usually saved for the weekend, but there is also the option of a large hunk of baguette, also from the boulangerie, smothered in butter and nutella/jam or just butter, dipped into your bowl of coffee/hot chocolate, whichever you prefer. It is simply divine, and it's an everyday thing! Another major difference during breakfast is that they don't eat toast, I don't even think my host family owns a toaster!
  • Yogurt: Here for dessert the most common thing to eat is, you guessed it, yogurt. Now I don't mean just Yoplait in a variety of flavors, though there's that too, but basically all manner of puddings and custards, including but not limited to, chocolate mousse, creme brulee, caramel, etc., all in individual yogurt containers. Now I'm not sure if this is because the French simply don't have a separate word for pudding other than yaourt, which means yogurt, or it really is just that much cooler here, but at any rate it does make one feel healthier to say they ate yogurt instead of ice cream!
  • Colorful Clothing: Or should I say lack thereof? Here no one, not even the crazy teenagers, where bright colors. Occasionally you will see a little girl, no older than 7, dressed in hot pink and purple, or electric blue, but that is really the only exception. The color palate here is Black, Grey, White, Brown, Tan, and occasionally red. That's it! Weird after going to an american high school, full of blue and red pants, and neon green sweat shirts, with orange and purple sneakers or hot pink flats with yellow tights! And to make the transition even clearer, I went into an H&M store in New York, where everything was color coded, so that the shelfs near the front contained only green and yellow, then a section of Blue and Purple, etc., and every design was in at least three different colors. Here I went into an H&M, and the store contained Tan, Champagne, Black, and Navy blue! Bizarre, no?
  • Punctuation: My final observation for now is the French punctuation. Instead of quotation marks they use <>. Instead of decimal points they say 2,25 and replace the use of comas as marking the thousands place like 1,000 the French write 1.000. So Confused!
Well, that concludes my culture shock section of the week, by the way yesterday was officially one week in France, and I'm sorry I didn't have it in me to write about the first day of classes yesterday. Maybe I'll have the will tonight. Later today we're going to Lille, the urban center of northern France, for La Braderie, a big street festival with lots of Moules Frites, or Mussels and French Fries.
a Bientot,


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