When in Rome....
I spent last week's long weekend in Romania for my master's program. I had a great time, and I'll probably write more about it later, but I wanted to share quick some of the funnier moments that came with spending five days non-stop with a group of 30 Frenchies.
Every morning, we would meet up at a certain time to began the day's activities, and there were systematically one or two stragglers. When they would finally make it out of the hotel and board the bus, everyone would start shouting "Wooooo!". The first time it happened, I thought they were cheering because we could finally take off. But as the week went on, I realized that their joyful Wooo! was actually the equivalent of our low-toned Boo. It was pretty disconcerting - 1) because how could I not have realized this after ten years in France? and 2) it was just so darn happy sounding.
One of the female administrators of our program had a thing for one of my fellow students, and it became blatantly obvious during this trip. But the thing is - this guy is newly married with young children. So many debates were held about whether what she was doing was immoral or whether or not he was a grown man and it was his choice. I'd say about half the group thought he should keep it in his pants and the other half thought he was free to do as he pleased.
Probably one of the most common complaints I heard throughout the trip was about the lack of coffee after meals. It was pretty hilarious - most people took a sort of "I mean, really - how dare they not include coffee in the menu??" attitude.
After the trip, a bunch of us were on the RER heading back to Paris, and the main topic of discussion was whether or not the women had done "la bise" with the program director. None of us had - we all stuck out our hand, but several felt he had been hoping to do the cheek kisses. No one had wanted to set a precedent though, because then we would all have to bise him at the university as well.
The director also started tu-ing us during this trip, so the discussion then turned to whether or not each of us had tu-ed him back. A lot of the older ones said yes, because they tu people who tu them, whereas myself and some of the younger ones said no. I just didn't feel comfortable saying tu to him yet since he is older than me and the program director and we're not really buddy-buddy yet, so I am still vous-ing him for now.
As people were saying goodbye and getting off at the various RER stops, there was a lot of confusion about who had already done la bise and who had not. And it's true, when you're with 30 people, it can be hard to remember who you've already bised and who you haven't. I had to laugh and point out to the group that things were a lot simpler in that respect in the US - there's no formal and informal you and no bise-ing. Those who hadn't been to the US were like "Well, what do you do then?". I replied that we either just say hello, or wave our hand or sometimes hug. And once I explained what hugging was, a debate began on whether it was more personal than biseing...
Et voila - a few of the "only with French people" moments I had during our trip.