This week I decided to start a series of articles comparing our country to the countries represented here on our campus. As you know from reading my past articles, PC is very involved with countries all over the world extending the opportunities for students to get the experience of an American college and to further understand the American culture. In like manner, PC has partnered with colleges to give our students the experience of other countries cultures and education through actually attending a foreign college or interning overseas. It’s such an amazing opportunity. The first area I’ll compare to our American culture is France. Not only do they speak French, they have a whole list of things that they do so differently from Americans. I won’t be able to name and explain them all but I’ll do my best to enlighten you will the many culture differences.
Food is something we all love. The French share the idea of three meals a day but do you know their most important meal? Unlike Americans, French take their lunch very seriously. Lunch to them is like dinner to us. The French have lunch with their families daily. They receive a two hour minimum break to enjoy family time and a great meal and maybe even a great nap; whereas Americans take an hour break maximum for lunch. For Americans, lunch can be anything and normally a quick thing. A big meal for them consist of, in this order, un aperitif (cocktail), les hor d’oeuvres, un entrée, un plat principal (the main course), les legumes (vegitables), une salade verte (green salad), le fromage (cheese), le dessert, le café, le digestif (an after meal beverage). When learning about this big meal I found it interesting that there’s no such thing as not eating every dish. Everything offered must be taken, no matter how full you are. Turning down food in France is considered rude.
Education is another thing that is different amongst cultures. In France, it’s impossible to receive an A+ in any subject. Their grading scale is quite different, their point system is 20/20 whereas Americans grade using 100/100 system. While learning more about the grading scale I found it interesting that they do not give out A+s because that’s like saying a student is perfect and to them, no one is perfect. Another interesting fact about the educational differences is the idea of “Le Bac”. The Bac is a test that students prepare for throughout elementary, middle, and high school, very similar to the SATs and the ACTs, only students are required to choose a career very early in their life and go to schools depending on their future careers. Once you’ve passed Le Bac you are admitted into an university to further your education.
Lastly, I must add the culture differences with dating and relationships. Couples in France tend to pair with each other based on their class status and often from the same area. Couples also meet up at cafés . On a more serious note, marriage is considered a law. If you want to legally get married you have to go to the City Hall, otherwise it’s not legal. Church weddings are not considered legal whereas in the States, when couples get married in order to make it legal you have to sign a marriage license with someone who’s certified officiate the service. The French also have a livret de famille which is a documented with the names of your family members, similar to the American tradition of the Family Tree. Both traditions authenticate your heritage.
Learning about new culture differences are fun. You never realize how much different your everyday life is compared to someone of a different ethnicity. During the next few weeks, I plan to explore many other cultures throughout the year to represent the diversity shown throughout PC’s campus. Stay tuned for more culture-shocking information!