Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Color me confused

You know, I've been here a long time now, and most of the time, I think I have the French figured out.  But every once in a while, someone or something will throw me for a loop...

For the past two months, I have been sitting next to the same French woman every time we have class. Often times we will eat lunch together too. I wouldn't go as far as to say we are friends (we are in France after all), but I did feel that I was starting to know her fairly well.

Until this past Saturday when she told me she had American citizenship. I was like "Hold the boat, what??" She replied with a very short "I was born in the US". I was completely flabbergasted and said "And you're just telling me that now, after all this time?". She simply did the French shrug and said "Yes", without giving me any additional information.

I swear, I will never understand French woman. 

It actually perturbed me for the rest of the day.  I mean, can you imagine spending that much time with someone and never bothering to mention you share their nationality?  It blows my mind.

I guess it just underlines one of the main differences between Anglo and French cultures....when we meet someone new, we tend to look for anyway possible to connect with them, whereas as the French just....don't. 

Also, at the end of class last Saturday, the majority of my classmates started pulling out bottles of wine or champagne, chocolates, cakes, etc and all of the sudden we had a little party going. I had to laugh about how it was just plainly obvious for them to all bring something to share the last class before Christmas - no need to send out a group email to see who would bring what.  Luckily I had stuck a box of Christmas peeps in my school bag, so I had some "American candy" to share with the brave few.

I guess it just goes to show that I still have a lot to learn about this country...

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Blogger Sarah said...

"when we meet someone new, we tend to look for anyway possible to connect with them, whereas as the French just....don't."

I'd never put words to it, but you're right, that's exactly it. I also find that as they don't make an effort to connect I start to lose interest pretty quickly.

December 18, 2012 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Linds Frank said...

Glad you represented with peeps. Thought I was the only person over ten who still thinks they're cool.

December 18, 2012 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

This actually happened to me a few months ago with a non-French colleague at work ... She asked where I was from and I told her I was Australian.
"Ah okay. Blah blah photocopier. Work stuff. etc.."
An hour later I discovered she was also Australian! It's not exactly common in Strasbourg. In fact she's only the third Australian I've met here (aside from visiting friends) in seven years!

December 18, 2012 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger The Paris Chronicles said...

Everything you write here...I KNOW! I KNOW!

December 19, 2012 at 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto what Sarah said. And I also find it odd that she never mentioned it. Maybe she personally has some inner conflict with her dual nationality and really doesn't feel at all American? Maybe she has taken flack for being American from someone in France in the past, so now she feels the need to play it down? I do think that French women play everything pretty close to the vest. I sometimes wonder if they have have close friendships in the way I have had with my American friends, where you can say just about anything. And thank God you had Peeps! :)

December 19, 2012 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Sara Louise said...

I try not to generalize a society as a whole but I find that what you say about them not trying to connect true. I always thought it was just me, but I guess not. Because yeah, it is really freaking weird, that she never told you that she was born in the US! I would have immediately used it as a way to forge a connection or start a conversation. But why bother when you can shrug, pout and huff & puff.

December 20, 2012 at 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So true what you say!

December 20, 2012 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Little Pieces of Light said...

That's hilarious. But completely believable. But it sounds like everything turned out fine though with the Christmas candy & champagne! Perhaps gestures like this fall into the kind of social vocabulary that French people use to connect with other people - even if it doesn't seem so obvious to us foreigners at the beginning. They will never mention nationality, but they'll try to bond with you over macarons. :)



December 30, 2012 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Pumpkin said...

Just because she was born in the US doesn't mean she feels connected to the US in anyway. I have kids that were born in the US and can totally not seeing it important for them to meantion as adults.

January 20, 2013 at 12:51 AM  

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