A Perspective on French Culture

New French Connection LogoRecently, I read an article about how France voted to ban cellphone usage entirely in the school system, exemplifying yet another stark difference between American culture.

And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing- in fact, I’m very fond of the idea. There are many aspects in general that are very appealing in my eyes.

Over the past school year, we did a variety of research on French culture, especially involving daily routines, food, and the educational system, and comparing our countries brought many things to light.

I tend to think of French society as relaxed, yet structured. Traditional, yet pronounced. By this, I mean that focus is effectively placed on areas of importance, with respect towards well-being and reasonability. For example, the French place education at incredibly high value, with elongated school days and intense learning, along with testing that, in most cases, is much more regimented, yet produces greater outcomes.

In the US, there’s simply less importance placed on the value and quality of education. I’m not saying we have a bad education system (though it certainly is flawed), but the French educational system is far more advanced, higher-leveled, and demanding.

To be clear though- I’m not trying to be the student who complains about school in general- I actually quite enjoy it, and things like standardized testing aren’t… the worst. But when compared side by side, the differences are evident.

In America, we get so caught up in our lives- in technology, in work, in media. So, its nice for a change to witness the ideals set in place in France, like an elongated tea time in the afternoon, shorter, more relaxed work days, and overall, work/life balance. Most often, you don’t get that in the states. In France, there’s focus on socialization, activity, and wellness.

Just looking downtown, visually, our cultures are quite different. The US is incredibly commercialized, with focus on convenience and quick service. Everything is just going, going, going. In France, with an abundance of local bakeries and markets, there’s emphasis on taking one’s time and enjoying one’s day. I think the baguette is the perfect example of this: picking one up warm, eating part on the way, and preparing it alongside fresh ingredients for a meal.

In terms of food itself, France has quite the assortment. From escargot (snails) to a croque monsieur (a cheesy grilled cheese-esque meal that is mouth-watering), amongst plenty of other creations (as I once read in an article, French chefs are essentially considered artists), la nourriture is so diverse and distinct. With the greasy, quick-prepared stereotypical American Food we’re used to, new perspectives are everything.

In the modern world we live in, with distractions each way vying for our attention, it’s always nice to take a step back, and French society allows for just that. I would love, one day, to visit France and experience just that.

Altogether, in my opinion, France lives up to the beauty of its language.

Thanks for reading!

Gabe

 

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