A Cultural Difference, United States Vs. France

A Cultural Difference, United States Vs. France

By Anouk L.

When my journalism teacher asked me to write an article about the differences between France, where I’m originally from, and the United States, I couldn’t preventing my eyes from staring into the distance and answering, in the most unexcited tone, “Yes, sure.”

You would be amazed to find how many people ask me this question. I don’t blame them; it’s good to be curious! But is France that exotic? Before getting into the subject, I just want to clarify a point that puzzled some students here; I’m not an immigrant. I traveled with the AFS program.

What struck me at first when I arrived was the different environment surrounding me. In France, I go to school in a city that counts 136, 252 inhabitants. All day, I am  surrounded by buildings, cars, public transportations, crowds and noises. You can easily imagine how happy I was to discover that Duxbury had a beach and a lot of vegetation. It is very peaceful and beautiful. Maybe a little too peaceful for teenagers though. Indeed, it is hard to hang out with friends if you don’t have your license because there is no public transportation. In France however, you can travel anywhere buy buses or tram lines.

Speaking of transportation, of course I had stereotypes while coming here. According to me, every American had to drive a pickup truck, be a little corpulent and wear a t-shirt with their country’s flag. But no. I arrived to America to find a host family that was extremely healthy. In fact, my host parents go the gym every week. I will concede that my host dad does drive a truck but he thankfully doesn’t wear flag shirts.

I won’t tell you all the differences between France and the US speaking of education and school because you would be bored and I want this article to figure in the most popular category on The Dragon Flyer to get a good grade. But if there is one thing to know, students here are very lucky. Their teachers are basically their friends and they are not too intense. Even if their lunches are only 25 minutes compared to the two hours we get in France, this school and its system is so much more comfortable. I was shocked to see my host sister hanging out every weekend with her friends. That is something that students in my country are not likely to do because of the huge amount of homework we have to get done.

Another big difference for me was my schedule. In France, my day can start at 8 am and finish at 6 p.m. Yes, sometimes it’s longer than my parents’ workday. Don’t forget the solid 3 hours of homework you have after that. I also have school on Saturday morning until noon but Wednesdays are half days. I make it sound terrible but we have breaks throughout the weekday where sometimes I have time to walk in the city with my friends. We have the independence of a college student in the US who would live in a city. So, when we have time, we can go shopping, for a coffee and a pastry between two classes. That might sound very stereoptical.   

I have found Americans to be very welcoming, curious and warm. Many adults in the school ask me regularly how my year is going on and they seem very happy for me when I tell then it feels like a dream. Most people from Duxbury are social and caring. Usually, I can’t walk to the crosswalk or the library without being asked questions. And I believe that to be a wonderful thing.  which I think is an awesome way to share cultures and opinions.

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