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freedom fries

Needless to say, the current president of the United States has a lot to learn. However, I think the French could also take some things from our example. Hence, the following answer to my latest assignment:

If France could learn/adopt one thing from the US, what would you want it to be? The US from France?

The thing that most struck me while living and learning in France is their complete and total lack of individuality. Students in the French system copy their professors' words verbatim, with flawless handwriting and using rulers and colors to make as-good-as-printed notes. When homework is due, a class of 15 turns in 15 identical reports. Never are students asked to "be creative" or "use their imaginations".

Here in the states, creativity and individual expression are encouraged. For example, for the average high school history presentation: one student might bring a musical compilation of songs that express their topic, one student might paint a painting, one student might write a theatrical skit, etc. Whatever is, for that student, the best way to express their ideas. There is a wide range of personal expression.

This is the one thing I think France should learn from the United States.

As for the other way around, the US needs to get culture. BAD. I'm not saying every person needs to memorize their Emily Post, but a little knowledge of etiquette would be nice. The French (if a bit snobbish - we won't go there) have a definate sophistication bred into them. It's not something that they think about from day to day, because it's just there. I can't explain it. They are a teeny bit more formal (I wanted to say polite, but I know I can't). They have certain marques de politesse that make life a joy. No matter how you look at it, we Americans are rude, blunt, and ignorant. We need to knock it off.

The fact that I care about this while living in a country that doesn't frequently makes me appear stuck up. I hate that. I'm not stuck up. I just think we're a country full of grumbly children. Sigh.

Anyway, there you go. That's my 2 cents.

katie - Thursday, 19 June 2003 - 9:41 AM

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Comments (6)

gravatar srah - June 19, 2003 - 9:50 AM -

Thank you. Now go away.

gravatar katie - June 19, 2003 - 9:55 AM -

:P I never liked being here anyway. It smelled funny.

gravatar Jez - June 19, 2003 - 10:01 AM -

Americans are rude, blunt and ignorant? I've never been to America, so cannot comment - although I never got that impression from the few Americans I have met (I'm being being very tactful and diplomatic today, aren't I?) However, living in France, I would say rude and blunt described the local populace perfectly. The jury is still out on "ignorant". Yes, there are the marques de politesse, but they are so formulaic. Merely saying the words "pardon" and "excusez-moi" does not make it polite when they push you down the stairs in the metro.

And something the US could export to France? Customer service. A genuine desire to be friendly and helpful in shops and restaurants rather than the sullen grunts and poor service we have to put up over here.

Something that France could send to the US? Don't know really. I was going to say something political, like a new President, but the one we've got is almost as bad as the sorry excuse for a Head of State that you're lumbered with.

gravatar katie - June 19, 2003 - 10:05 AM -


Customer service? Have you been reading about my trials and tribulations with my hosting service lately??? I always thought shopkeepers in France were very polite and friendly. I like them. Here, it's all "give us your money and go away".

I know that the French still act rude and blunt, but at least they have the courtesy to say something polite. Society here doesn't breed that into us. The difference is all in the words. :)

gravatar srah - June 19, 2003 - 10:06 AM -

*in a sing-song voice*
Paris isn't France, Paris isn't France... That's my France-mantra that I recite to everyone who things French people are rude or has any other complaint about France. Srah hates Paris and loves France.

Sorry about the smell, Katie... the monkeys have been flinging poo again.

gravatar katie - June 19, 2003 - 10:17 AM -

I love all of France. Paris included. I do not, in general, like Parisians. I like some non-Parisian french people. I love the city of Paris.

Srah, make your monkeys behave. Put diapers on them, or something.

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