Hahha I managed to get a virus into my heart so I have to spend 3 weeks sitting at home and resting. Okay I am allowed to go to school and everything, just sports and parties are denied. At least I now have time to write my blog..!
I’m supposed to write about French culture and culture shock that I have experienced here. Well, I haven’t had any shocking experiences. Maybe if I would have gone to some Asian country instead of staying in Europe I would now be writing a long list of differences between Finland and country X and how surprised I am and how differently everything works. But I’m in France and so far this has been very similar to what I thought it would be.
At school the staff speaks English very well and almost everything seems to work okay, but not perfectly though. Some things are very unorganized and could be done so much better. For example timetables can change without a warning. It is impossible to book train tickets or flights or plan anything “bigger” more than few days before you want to go because the teacher might move classes from one day to another.
Students at school are in my opinion clearly divided into Erasmus students and French students. Erasmus students hang out and party together but I haven’t seen many non-Erasmus students in those parties. Before I came to France I was told that French students are not very interested in speaking with Erasmus students so I expected this. Still I have met some nice French people here too who are not afraid to speak English and have always been very helpful when I have had a problem that requires help from French speaking person!
People outside the school, like ones working in shops, bank and hospitals, do not speak English very well or they just don’t want to try. Of course there are exceptions, too. And when I speak French they are not like “yey you speak French”, they just assume that of course I do. But I have noticed that when I try to speak French with them and then use some English words or sentences they do understand me. They usually reply to me in French but that is more than fine because I really would like to learn the language, but I just can’t always find the right words. It is a cool feeling when you really understand what someone is saying to you and you can have an actual conversation in French, even if your own answers are on non, oui, merci –level. But hey at least it is a start! 😀
Troyes, the city where I live now, is a small but lovely city. I love these really typical French things that I see here like boulangeries selling all those pastries and breads, people actually carrying paguettes in their hands and so on. At night though, this city can be very far from lovely. I’ve heard a lot of creepy stories about robberies and other stuff like that. There are a lot of drug abusers here and I know many students who carry pepper spray with them, just in case. I haven’t bought one myself because it feels a bit like overreacting, but if I would have to walk home alone at night it might feel differently about it. Thank God I live with four other people so I almost always have somebody else coming home with me at the same time!
So as I said in the beginning, I haven’t experienced any symptoms of culture shock here. I know that in other countries things don’t work the same way as they do in Finland. Anyone who has been traveling even a little bit knows that. Of course it can sometimes be annoying when you don’t know exactly what to do but isn’t that also the reason why people travel and go abroad to do their exchange? At least for me it is. I didn’t come here expecting that everything is like it is at home; I came here to experience new things and French way of life. Or Erasmus way of life 😀
Okay that’s all about my opinions on French people and their culture for now, let’s see if my opinion will change during these almost 4 months that I left!