Things I've Learned About Living in France

  1. People here are terrified of "Catching Cold."
    No, not catching a cold. They are afraid of being exposed to cold air, because they think it will make them sick. For example, if you go to a party with lots of French people on Saturday, and everyone is sick on Monday, they will blame it on the cold air - no matter what the illness is. It's summer and you've caught a cold? The air conditioning must have been on too high.  Got food poisoning? You must have got hit by gust of cold air on the walk from the building to the car.

    I wish I was exaggerating...

  2. If you try to explain that viruses and germs cause sickness - not cold air- the French person may become offended and sometimes even angry.
  3. French pharmacies rock.
    They have everything you need when your sick and AMAZING skin products. Blow your mind wonderful and relatively affordable! I'll have to make a blog post one day about my favorites. :) This is the material object that I missed the most when I came back to the states to finish my degree.
  4. Everything is slower.
    This is both a virtue and a vice. Sometimes you're in a hurry and it's "tant pis" (too bad) for you. Other times it's a slow summer lunch with the family in the French country side. You've got blue skies and nothing to worry about. Or sitting outside a cute patisserie taking the time to let each layer of a mille-feuille melt on your tongue.
  5. American accents sound funny in French.
    I'm sorry. It's not as smooth and sexy as you were hoping.
  6. Lunch can last for hours.
    Most people take two hour lunch breaks. In fact many stores and even the post office are closed from noon until two o'clock. Plan running errands accordingly.
  7. Teachers yell at their students.Often. It's normal here. Today I was alone in a classroom, and, through the wall, I could hear a teacher screaming at her students to shut up. She was clearly the Spanish teacher because half the time she was screaming in Spanish.
    Worse yet, a few weeks ago a teacher that I work with yelled at a student who answered a question incorrectly, "What! are you stupid?" Then she turned to the rest of the class smiling, "Ok. Who knows the answer?" .:Complete Silence:. "Come on. Don't be shy. It's ok if you make a mistake!" Yeah... school is no place for the faint of heart. I told Laurent this story and he didn't think it was big deal at all. He was like, "Well, it's not like she called him stupid. She asked him if he was stupid. It's very different."
  8. French people can be very kind and welcoming. If you're polite.
    If your rude and insist on speaking to them in a foreign language (English) that they don't understand, they are going to get frustrated and let you know. Also, customer service is (seriously) a new concept here. They're just not there yet. 

Anyone have a similar or different experience living in France, or abroad in general? Let me know in the comments! I plan on adding to this list later.


  1. Hey Patricia! Cute blog :) Learning all about living in a new country can be so fun and so confusing/frustrating at times. Where in France are you? We're living just about 40 minutes from the border in Germany.
    So glad you started blogging!

  2. This is a lovely blog! From living and visiting abroad-- namely England, France, Belgium... the children are taught very good manners and to be polite, and it carries over into adulthood. In America politeness is many times, lost.

    The French have AMAZING cheese!! Amazing!! Something we learned though, is that it doesn't travel well in your checked luggage :(

    European schools are sometimes light years beyond ours here in USA. If you talk to a 10 year old in say England, you will find that he is learning what they teach in High School here. Plus, they cover a lot more in the way of arts, music, painting and so forth which develop the brain and help with academics. In the US, the arts are thought of as secondary to academics and bottom of the heap when it comes to sports!
    There is a reason we have always had artwork (even if it was out of a magazine) and music in our home. And I insisted all my kids were in music and or sports. Brains... :)

    I was amazed how many people in France tried to help us, if we tried to speak French... they would try to help us back, in English if they could. :) It was quite lovely.

  3. Thanks mom :).

    Kailin - I think your blog is so cute. It's one of the blogs that inspired me. Right now we're living in the southeast of France. It's the same town that I studied abroad in. I've been living here collectively for about a year and a half now so you'd think the culture shock would be over, but it sneaks up on me now and again.


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