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Living the American Life

Posted by jujuintexas on January 29, 2010

Hello Everyone!

I feel like this blog hasn’t emphasized enough on the differences that one would find between France and the U.S. I think it’s interesting to point them out as they come along just to be aware how culture defines rationality. What you would think improbable in your country can be widely accepted here, and it’s very fun to notice!

For Instance, the student’s routine here is extremely different than the one we would have in Paris.

American Students!

In France, your campus is so small that you probably know all the buildings that constitute it VS. in Austin, the campus is so huge that there is a good chance you will never see more than 2-3 of them.

In Paris, your university has approximately 50 or so computers available if you need to do research at the library. VS.Here , there are hundreds, if not thousands of computer available.

In Paris, going downtown with your classmates often means that you’re going to pay at least 20 to 30 euros to go to a club, or simply have a drink in a bar VS. in Austin, almost every bar has no cover charge and drinks are ridiculously cheap.

French Students!

In Paris, it takes you a lifetime to find accomodation for your stay, and tons of paperwork VS. in Austin, it took me 3 days total to find a spot, and I could move in the very day I signed the lease.

I could list dozens and dozens of things that are much easier, better, faster here. However, and this is my french side that’s talking, I can find some black dots in the fine American picture :

– The Wireless Network SUCKS (Thank you T-Mobile for not covering my own house!)

– The DSL DOUBLESUCKS (It almost never works and when it works, it’s slow as heck)

– People are serious when it comes to health (“Sure, you wanna taste my drink? Get another straw please”), it’s almost insane (I’ve just read an article saying that 5 americans a year are admitted into French hospitals during their vacations in France because of food poisoining with Roquefort (Blue Cheese), haha!)

– A lot of people don’t know what the verb “To Walk” means. (Hey! The car is the extension of men!)

– They always find something new to add to their food. Example : Hey! I’ll get this Chocolate Chip, Cinammon filled and chocolate covered donut… Oh, it comes with Whipped Cream and it’s Drizzled with Hot Fudge? Oh, Can I get some M&M’s on it? AND I’LL GET A DIET COKE, PLEASE.

By the way, I think this is the perfect time to introduce one of the pictures which always makes me laugh a lot :

Bigger Portions!

This picture was taken at the Exchange Orientation Meeting on the very next day I arrived to Austin.

Anyway, I must say that I’ve survived the cultural gap (probably because I had expected what was coming) but the part I need to work on still is human relations. America in general is so big about TIME! It’s common to bump into a very good friend while going to campus and not even stop to greet him or talk even 30 seconds. It’s like “dude, really? I mean, I have a class in 15 minutes, let’s see each other another time, even for cheap talking”.

I won’t even talk about relationships and dating… The way people behave here is so AWKWARD! In France, we usually don’t have the kind of distinction between “dating” and “being your girlfriend/boyfriend”. Some more investigation will probably lighten me up on this matter!

To conclude this post, I realize that in fact, no matter how well you cope with a dramatic lifestyle change, or how well you adapt to different habits and customs, you always try to connect back to your roots or try to make sense of situations with your inner, national perception of things. This is where my Cross-Cultural Management skill needs to be improved, and I look forward to it in classes!

See you in a while!

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One Response to “Living the American Life”

  1. Fi said

    this is really great julien! a fun read.

    i have so many comments about the relationship thing that i think i’ll have to save them for real life. let’s play this weekend!

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