Cultural clashes are things you automatically notice when moving to a different country, but the amount of blogs with stereotypical differences between the British and the French is astonishing.
The most common stereotypes include that the French are rude, won’t attempt to speak English, will laugh at you speaking French and that they are lazy which, generally speaking, I believe are completely wrong. I admit that my first few days in France felt overwhelming, and for someone who grew up in England, I’d grown quite fond of our ‘over-polite’ mannerisms. However, I have also found that if you really do need help, there will usually be a friendly French person to guide you in the right direction.
Although we’re only across the Channel, I have picked up on a few cultural differences that made me chuckle and similarly, I’ve found things that the English do that newcomers would find quite odd. This is in no way intended to be offensive, just a few little things to make you laugh.
Perhaps the best peculiarity I’ve encountered so far is that some adults in France think it’s completely normal to ride around on a scooter – the type of scooters intended for children – just because it’s a practical way of getting around. On va faire de la trottinette!
Image via http://www.jooks.fr
Secondly, a quirk I personally love – it’s acceptable for adults to eat fruit compotes (what the English would define as baby food). Since noticing that in French society it’s acceptable, I’ve started enjoying them for lunch and they’re really good.
Numéro trois – man bags. So a large number of French men like to carry a small bag around with them for convenience, where as for English men, this would seem ridiculous as they are generally intent on carrying everything they need in their pockets (or their female companion’s handbag!).
Image via http://www.top10king.com
International people I’ve met, who have spent some time in England, have not hesitated in pointing out everyday tasks that seem very, very bizarre to them.
The first that was pointed out – by several confused European friends – was the fact that we usually have two taps on our sinks – a choice between very hot or very cold water. Usually, in European countries, they have one tap which they can swivel to adjust the temperature of the water. I’ve never questioned having two taps in the bathroom or kitchen but now, it doesn’t really make much sense.
The second is that most British households use a washing up bowl for the dishes, which has been described by several people as ‘giving the dishes a bath’, a concept they don’t quite understand. Also – though not all Brits do this – leaving the dishes all soapy without rinsing them afterwards usually leaves internationals shocked.
Lastly, something that everyone talks about after visiting England is our ‘over-use’ of sorry, please and thank you. I’ve often found myself bumping into a table and consequently apologising to it but when not dealing with an inanimate object, it just seems like good manners. In other European countries however, you may not come across these words as frequently.
So there it is! A few cultural quirks that made me giggle.
What are your thoughts on trottinettes or soapy dish water? Can you think of any more peculiarities that you’ve encountered in France or England?