Things I've Learned About America from Living in France

       Apparently, one of Laurent's friends thought my post about living in France made the French look stupid and was a little degrading. But that was definitely not my intention. When you live abroad you learn that all cultures (including your own) believe and do really weird things that you just can't wrap your mind around. It was an honest perspective of how certain things appear to me. I also included awesome things about the French, because they're great. Americans are super awesome and unique, but we also believe stupid stuff and have weird habits.
         That's the beauty of cultural perspective. It's so different, yet really the same when you peel off the superficial layers. A culture is its false "universally accepted" truths, its mores and habits, its commercially produced products, its humor, its pain, its pride, and its tradition. I think it's great that each country is weird in its own way. That's what makes travel so exciting. You learn about a new culture's weirdness and in turn your eyes are opened to the craziness of your own. And it is all beautiful.

So without further ado, Things I've Learned About America from Living in France :

1. We waste a lot of time with false weight loss myths. Its just genetics - No matter what I eat I'll always be fat. Eating after 6 pm will make you fat. Eating carbs will make you fat. Eating a sugary breakfast will make you fat. Eating cheese will make you fat.   

      French people do all of this, and France is a country of immigrants (thus x-ing out the purely genetic theory). Yet according to Forbes ranking of the World's Fattest Countries America is the world's 9th fattest country. France is 128th.

The truth is that eating more calories than you burn will make you gain weight.
Plain and simple. Anything fancier (certain health conditions aside) is just an excuse.

2. Benjamin Franklin did not discover electricity. Not even close.

A couple of days ago my husband starting telling me some story about a man named Volta who discovered how to produce electricity, and I was like "No way! One of founding fathers was out flying his kite with a key attached to it in a rainstorm..." I couldn't even finish the story it sounded so ridiculous. That's what we're taught in Elementary school! I haven't really thought much out it since. But revisiting the story as an adult makes me feel pretty silly for having believed it....

Now go ahead and type "Franklin discovered electricity" into Google and you'll find thousands of articles and even official historical website selling the same tall tale as truth.  This is because Franklin apparently wrote an article for a newspaper about his experiment back in the day (some sources say he wrote it, others say it was a friend of his). But Franklin was clearly no George Washington (legend has it he never told a lie).

3. A clothes dryer is not a necessity. 


Americans are really dependent on clothes dryers. Sometimes people have them here, they're just rare. Why pay a lot money for something that raises the electricity bill, takes up a lot of space, is bad for the environment, and is completely unnecessary? I'm being all critical - but I really miss have a dryer! It's so much more convenient. Which leads to my next point.

4. Americans are super efficient. Things tend to be instantaneous. We want and expect it now. This is something that's hard to visualize if you don't ever leave America. *Example: I started the paperwork for my French social security card in September. It is now February and there's no sign that it's coming any time soon - but I know I will get it eventually. Americans want things faster and cheaper. The quicker the better. The more the merrier. Sometimes I really miss this. And sometimes I wonder if it's the reason people spend less time with their family, bosses don't care  if a job deprives the employee of a personal life (as long as they get their results), and so many Americans are on antidepressants. We've become robots.

5. Hulu, Taco Bell, and Victoria's Secret are awesome. I miss them! So far I've figured out how to access Hulu from France. But it doesn't look like Taco Bell or Victoria's secret will be coming here anytime soon.

6. American food is really over-processed. Do you know what you're really eating? Often most the ingredients listed on food products are impossible to pronounce. That's really gross. Though I still love Cheetos, no matter what they put in those suckers.

7. American news stations are really self-centered. There is a lot going on in the world and Americans are largely uniformed. There was a really important presidential election in France last year. Do you know who the French president is? If not, don't feel bad. A French reporter went to America to interview international American journalists and they had no idea either.

It's François Hollande and he's a socialist. Now you know. :)

8. Americans are obsessed with their teeth. The French think that dental floss is weird and my husband thinks we invest way too much time and money into our teeth. I'm not able to objectively comment because I'm the kind of person who brushes after every meal and flosses every single day. I'm kind of grossed out when I find out someone doesn't floss. I should have been a dentist.

So what do you think? Have something to add to the list? Is there anything don't agree with here or anything that surprised you? Sound off in the comments!


  1. I do find it interesting that Americans believe that Franklin invented electricity. I always got a laugh in school when our teachers would preach it as truth. They would get upset when I would tell them that they were wrong, and that he was simply trying to prove that lighting and electricity were related, and that he was likely a good distance from the actual lightning. There's something to add to your list I guess. Americans hate being told that their version of history is biased or incorrect.

    1. I can't believe I didn't question it before! But it sounds so ridiculous when you take a moment to really think about it. It's the year 2013 -why are we still teaching this in schools?? I guess it's because all countries hate being told that their version of history is biased or incorrect. No one wants to downplay the importance of a founding father.

  2. I'd be curious to hear the French take on WWII. I know the UK teaches it a bit different us.

    1. The French got taken over by Hilter and surrendered pretty quickly in WWII. The French government then helped the Nazi's to round up the Jews and other "undesirables." It's kind of just a bad memory for the french to be honest... The stories really interesting though if you want to look it up.

  3. Very very good points!! I seriously didn't even think about how ridiculous our Benjamin Franklin story was until reading your blog post.
    Must say, I felt having a down comforter was a lot more difficult in Europe and Australia without a dryer (it does the fluffing for me, lazy American)! Also used to think separate bedding was odd for a double bed (as I saw was the norm in Germany) until having the covers stolen night after night here in the US...

    I found when living in Germany and being able to travel to the shops, city, and even other parts of Europe with ease, America was behind concerning public transportation. In a select few mega-metropolises we have subway systems and such but in the vast majority of the US we rely much more on personal vehicles than most Europeans.
    When I came back to the US I first moved into Vegas with no vehicle and the buses were not cutting it. How many times I dreamed of an efficient way to get around like the Bahn or Metro! It's just something we don't have in the US and most people don't even know what a good utility they are missing out on!

    1. So true!! I don't think I could get around without public transportation anymore. I'm so used to it. I told Laurent the other day that I really wish we could just combine the best of the US with the best of France and it would be the perfect country!


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