Things I Miss (and Don’t Miss) About France

Bonjour!

It has been three weeks since I have returned to the United States, and I am definitely feeling the withdrawals of being in France, let alone in Europe. Really, those past eight months of living, working, and traveling on my own changed me- and I’m not being dramatic! Spending time abroad, meeting new people, and trying new things made me realize what I want in my life…at least, in my twenties. To continue to live, work, and travel in Europe, perhaps teach English at the high school/university level, and discover more about the culture in relation to the United States and Asia.

…in other words, I miss France. Despite the country having its problems with politics, immigrants, heck, the education system, it was my home for eight months. I learned so much more than I ever did than when I had studied abroad in Paris for a month during college: on the culture, the people, simply the system. Through the good and the bad, I chose to leave France with mostly the positive memories.

That said, I have put together a list of things that I miss (and don’t miss) about France. Let me know if you’ve experienced these sentiments before. Enjoy!

Three Things I Miss About France

Taken from enkivillage.com

1. Getting a drink. True, you can get a drink anywhere in the world. But what I mean by this is the fact that the culture of “going out for drinks” is quite different from that in the U.S. (at least, in my hometown of Los Angeles). When it comes to going out in L.A., one needs a car…and a designated driver. As a result, not everyone can participate in the drinking revelry; there’s always that one dude with the soda in hand. In France, there’s always public transit available, in the form of a bus, tram, taxi, etc. I do miss the easy effort of going to a café with a fellow assistant for a beer (or wine), talking for a couple hours, and never having to rush anything; in L.A., “going out” is more of getting lunch without the alcohol. Which isn’t bad, but isn’t the same, either. *sigh

2. My students and colleagues. As you know, I taught English at the middle school and high school levels. While there were a handful of students and staff who weren’t the easiest to deal with, there were plenty of others who have been nothing but super nice to me. Really, I have to thank my colleagues– both at the collège and lycée— for going out of their way to make me feel welcome in France, even when I was having a hard time adjusting. And most of the students as well- really adorable and sweet. If I were closer to their age and not their superior, I could’ve been friends with them. Funny enough, some of them even friend-requested me on Facebook, which I have since accepted after my contract ended. Why not? As long as they were the nice ones who didn’t give me hell… 😉

Taken from thenickelslotsmusic.com.

3. Easy travel accessibility in Europe. Yes, I know that France is part of Europe, duh. What I mean is that since Europe is such a small continent, access to its different countries is not difficult and, even better, not expensive! I’ve scored flights from Paris to Ireland for 13 euros, and buses from the north to south of France for an amazing 1 euro! Especially under the Schengen zone agreement with many other EU nations, traveling has never been easier (and exciting!). Now, I wish that the United States were the same way- domestically, even! Alas, one day…

Three Things I Don’t Miss About France

1. The racism. I have touched on this subject way too many times on this blog, on Facebook, even with my friends, but this bears reiterating. True, racism is everywhere in this world, but none was it so salient than in France. I don’t know what the French’s problem is, but they just aren’t very attuned to the concept of having people “different from them” in their country. Perhaps many of them are purists, and want to preserve the French language, mindset, and culture, but going back to the basics of respecting people isn’t that hard to do, you know? Ugh, with all of the crap that I experienced based on my, erm, “non-white” appearance (I’m Asian-American), I was pretty much ready to get the hell out of France. Funny enough, I did not experience any racism in other parts of Europe that I had traveled to. Or maybe it was there, but I did not perceive it. Or maybe it’s just in France that I’ve felt it more, since I lived there. Who knows…

Taken from belch.com

2. Dog poop everywhere. …and I mean EVERYWHERE. Seriously, why the fuck won’t the French clean up their dog’s shit? It’s not that difficult. At times, I nearly risk breaking my neck when trying to avoid stepping in dog poop on the sidewalk- and seriously, the sight of it is just disgusting. In Los Angeles, owners do pick up after themselves- or at least make their pets take the dump on the grass by the sidewalk (so as to not risk people stepping on it). Ugh, be responsible, people. 😛

3. Inefficiency. This can mean a couple of things: (1) never being on time, and (2) just in dealing with issues. I have mentioned in previous posts that I, normally a punctual person, had a difficult time getting used to the fact that in France, activities never, well, start on time. And they’re never early, either- it wouldn’t be a surprise for classes, trains, meetings to start at least five minutes late. Really, don’t bother showing up early; there’s no point. This lack of timeliness also can translate over to how the French organize…and it’s poor. Bless them for being nice and all, but the French are terrible communicators: plans get set, then changed, and notified very last-minute, to the point that you constantly have to be on your toes whenever it happens. Scheduling becomes useless, as they’re always changing and never on-time. Oy vey…I am not saying that the U.S. system is perfect, but it sure seems a helluva lot more organized. *smh

…and that’s about it for now! I am sure that I’ll have to make a Part Two to this soon, so look out for it! À bientôt. 🙂

— The Finicky Cynic

Check me out on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/thefinickycynic

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11 thoughts on “Things I Miss (and Don’t Miss) About France

  1. Ah, I remember moving home after my assistantship and having SUCH mixed feelings. By the end I was homesick and ready to leave, but once I got home, I missed France so much! Yes to the cafe culture and the endless amounts of travel. And I totally agree about disorganized bureaucracy and how it’s perfectly fine to friend your students on Facebook once they are no longer your students. And I do not miss the dog poop (have you read A Year In The Merde? Easily the funniest, most accurate book about France I’ve ever read.)

    I’m so sorry to hear about the racism you experienced but thanks so much for writing about it. I honestly was not at all familiar with that side of France. The small city I lived in was pretty much entirely homogenous so I guess it just never came up.

    You’re planning on going back? I was debating it and never did. I decided I needed to “grow up” and get a real job, so that’s what I did. I sort of regret that now. I like where I am in my career and in my life, but now that I’m living with someone and talking about marriage and children, I don’t know when I’m ever going to get to take a long-haul trip again. Travel while you can!

    1. So glad that someone can relate to me! Being an English assistant definitely has changed me, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have taught abroad. I have not read “A Year in the Merde,” but now I’m interested; it’s going on my reading list!

      I definitely want to go back; I have applied to many teaching programs in France, and am waiting to hear back soon. Fingers crossed!

      Thanks for your comment; it made my day! 😀

    1. I know, it’s inevitable…only thing one can do is not to let people get away with saying/doing racist things, as well as educate them on it. Baby steps!

  2. I like the small town communal feel of the towns of europe. Admittedly I have never been there but from what I have seen on TV it seems like people are closer and more connected there.

    1. You’re spot-on, Tony. Small-town folks are very well-connected to each other; almost everyone knows everyone. But for me to come in as a stranger, it definitely piqued the people’s interest, good and bad. For me having grown up in a large city to move to a small place, it was a tough adjustment, but in the end, things worked out. 🙂

    1. Thank you! Yes, being white is an advantage while in France because, well, it’s predominantly white. As someone who doesn’t “look white,” let alone “look French,” it was hard for me to fully assimilate. Despite it all, I still miss France and would like to return!

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