Thursday, 27 August 2015

France: The gross and petit differences

PROJECT: Tutoring & Immersion
WRITTEN BY: Jennifer Khouw

Some people assume that because France is a Western country, it’s no different than Australia. That’s not true! I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting about the differences, both big and small, between France and Australia, trying to work out exactly what sets our respective cultures apart.

1. Language- obviously, the official language of France is French. This is also, however, a difference in the way they approach foreign languages. Learning English is compulsory, so most people speak French, some English, and often another European language, such as German or Spanish.
Being bilingual is not a big deal because almost everyone is, whereas in Australia, people are impressed if you continue a foreign language to HSC level!

2. Food- coming from a country that doesn’t really have a defined cuisine, I loved trying all the regional specialities. I’ve eaten Boudin Noir (blood sausage), Foie Gras (goose liver), Crème Brulee, and a lot of duck! Cliched as it is, I often have baguettes, patisseries and crepes.
There’s always a bakery around the corner- I’m going to really miss them when I’m home! They also eat dessert for both lunch and dinner. I’ve now gotten used to it but I won’t be able to continue it when I’m home, it’s too unhealthy!

3. Cooking- there is a lot more emphasis placed on cooking. I was surprised that my host brother is a fairly proficient cook, considering most boys I know are limited to 2-minute noodles and bacon! That being said, he also eats weird stuff, like sugar on pasta, and honey-coated duck. I’ve been told to disregard it as teenage boy cuisine rather than French cooking!

4. Opening hours- this has driven me absolutely crazy my entire stay. Aside from the mandatory (and in my opinion, unnecessary) closure of businesses for 2 hours for lunch, shops seem to open and close arbitrarily.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked 20 minutes just to discover that the bakery is closed. I did find out, though, that it’s the law for French businesses to be closed one day a week. It’s their choice which day, but most close on Sundays.

5. Formality- from what I’ve seen, the French are more polite in a very formal way. That being said, I think a large part of that is that Australians are so laid back.
It’s more a general feeling than specifics, but it’s little things like waiting until everyone’s together to start eating dinner, even if the food gets cold while we wait.
Things that don’t exist in France:

• Cricket
• Netball
• Meat pies
• Sausage rolls

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