I'm waiting..... still waiting......
Every time I introduce myself to a new group of students they have the chance to ask me questions about myself, the United States ect. In general I get the same questions over and over again; “Have you ever met a celebrity?”, “Have you been to L.A?”, “Do you have a boyfriend?”, “Do you like French guys?”, “Do you like MacDonalds?”, “What do American people think of French people?”, and the most difficult one to answer, “what are the differences between The United States and France?” This last question causes me the most difficultly because there have been books written on this subject. To summarize all of the differences, even the main differences are quite difficult to explain. Of course the food is different, the language, the landscape, the government, the schools… and the list goes on. But it really makes me stop and think; Why is France (or maybe Europe in general) so different then the United States? I mean thanks to colombus most of our ancestors are from European decent, so why are the two contents so different?
One of the biggest differences I have noticed so far is the aspect of patience. In France it is absolutely necessary to be patient for a multitude of things. In the U.S we take often forget how nice it is to be able to go to the supermarket on a Sunday afternoon to get milk, peanut butter or any other random thing we can think of. Here, everything is closed on Sunday. So if you forget to buy toothpaste then you either need to hit up your neighbor for some or pray that you have some mouth wash hidden in your house. If you happen to want internet in your apartment you go and apply for it then wait a week to get a confirmation number in the mail. Then wait another couple of days for the company to accept the fact that you are paying them for internet, and they will send you another code you need to set up the internet. If the internet happens to not work, you need to walk to the store and talk to someone about it. They will probably tell you to try it again and come back in a couple of days. (And yes, this was an actually experience. We have had so many problems with the internet/phone/TV that the people at the store recognize us when we come in. we have been to the store ATLEAST 10 times in the past two weeks. I’m not exaggerating).
Although I have had to wait for things like internet, heat in my apartment, papers from the school, clothing to dry on the clothes line (no dryers here!) , and my correct schedule from the teachers, I believe I have dealt with it all pretty well. I feel like in America, if things are not the way we want them to right away, everyone freaks out. We don’t know what to do when the internet doesn’t work. We call the school and ask what is taking them so long if we don’t get the papers we need within a couple of days. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that I can go get a new pair of shoes last minute on a Sunday in the US, but in other ways, it is nice not to be stress out about the little unimportant things all the time.
Mindsets are a bit different here as well. The strenuous 35 hour work week in France is eased by the fact that many people have Wednesday afternoons off. This includes students. On Wednesday after the 12pm bell rings, everyone leaves the schools for the rest of the afternoon to do whatever they please. Why not have a break in the middle of the week? And why on earth would you give away free shopping bags at a grocery store? People can either pay 10 euro cents to buy one, or you can just help the environment and bring your own bag. Instead of coming home with 12 bags of groceries which end up taking up space in the back of your cabinet for the next 3 years, you buy what you are going to eat that week so it can all fit in your bag! I’m glad that the U.S is starting to adapt the “bring your own shopping bag” idea.It‘s much better for our environment and our wallets!
Aside from the insightful thoughts I’ve been having, things are starting to slow down a bit in Roanne. Most of the beginning paperwork hassle is done and I’m starting to feel more at home here. The other assistants and I are now trying to discover what there is to do in our little town of Roanne. This will be our goal for the weekend. Try to find something interesting to do in town, without running into our students… this will surely be a challenge!