February 4, 2014, by Guest blog
I was trying to be funny, but they just thought I was rude
I’m living less than 300 miles from my home in England; Nottingham is almost as far from my home as Paris so I wasn’t expecting to find many, if any, cultural challenges. However as the months here have passed I’ve really realised that there is a fairly big difference between English culture and French culture, a difference that can sometimes leave me feeling very homesick.
Before I arrived here I would never have described myself as patriotic but since being here I have quickly come to realise that I love, most the time, the English way of doing things and often really miss home because of that. Despite this I do not dislike all of the culture differences we have, for example I like that in Paris there is a patisserie on every corner that sells incredible, fresh pastries!
The cultural differences that I’ve found challenging have been things such as their bureaucracy. They have the most annoying way of doing anything bureaucratic here like banks, social security, grants etc… There seems to be no simple way of doing anything and I get the impression that no-one, not even the French, like or understand it which makes it that much more frustrating. Another cultural difference I can’t quite understand is their opening hours, I would have thought having a shop in Paris you would, to be able to pay the rent, need to be open every hour possible. Apparently this isn’t the case however with shops shutting for long lunch breaks (they clearly haven’t heard of shifts) not opening at least one day a week often more than that and not opening until quite late in the day!
I think another cultural challenge is the French humour; they just don’t have the same humour as the British do which can often land me in a bit of trouble. I have a typical ironic, dry sense of humour but don’t think the French really get this and think I’m just being rude!
I’m not sure whether the reason I think there is such a difference between France and England is because I wasn’t expecting there to be one. For example when I visited countries like Costa Rica or African countries there was obviously a huge culture difference and although some of the differences really shocked me I was aware to some extent to expect that and so didn’t find them such a challenge as met them with a different mind-set.
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