As a general rule, if I’m travelling with my Canadian passport, I’m Canadian. But once in a while, I introduced myself as French.And this is what happens.
Browsing: French Culture
It’s funny how exotic French can sound when you’re no longer immersed in the culture. Here are a few expressions and words I rediscover when I go to France.
When I’m done eavesdropping on people and when the streets are quiet, I read the little notes humans leave to each other.
I used to miss speaking French. I remember how exhausted I felt at the end of the day, my brain working hard to decipher English and to find an acceptable way to put words on my thoughts.
I chose to live several thousands of kilometres from where I was born but I never meant to hurt anyone. I paid the price for my decisions.
So, what did I buy in France this year?
Did you know you can buy half a baguette? That kissing is a minefield? That “bourge” is an offensive term?
We bought Mark a trottinette, i.e. a kick scooter—but since none of us knew the proper terminology for it English, we adopted the French name.
“I asked for a… baguette au sésame. But they didn’t understand me at first, because I pronounced it as seSAmee instead of SAYsame.”
The plan was to drive to the French Embassy, cast our votes and go home—hopefully the drive there and back plus civic duty would take less than an hour.
“What are you doing?” she inquired.
“Trying to send a fucking email and get through a fucking server who doesn’t accept fucking attachments!” I replied.
We both behaved like proper French and agreed a mistake had been made and it was the government’s fault.
We aren’t a stereotypical family. It’s cool. I can deal with a pause, a curious look, some assumptions.
French pharmacies focus on drugs and beauty essentials, no mere mortals’ needs like eating and drinking.
Walk down the streets of Nantes and you will notice the many English signs (because English sounds cool, right?) and the terrible double-entendre meaning.
French playgrounds and Canadian playgrounds are quite different, and so are parenting styles.
Oh, and while we are on the topic… stop ordering “French fries” in France.
North America’s delicate ears shall not be assaulted by strong language, much like delicate eyes shall not be exposed to nipples and delicate taste buds cannot stand foul unpasteurized cheese.
Speaking at least two languages fluently is so common in the immigrant community that I tend to forget it is indeed… a skill.
Just like most parenting topics, there is plenty of do-this-not-that advice and a huge gap between theory and practice. You can find me right there, in this gap, waving my arms.
Whether you are looking to expand your vocabulary or get some insight into the French psyche, here are six unique words and expressions for you to use… or not.
Mark developed a love for baguette and choco biscuits, he loves checking out clothing stores, he plays at the Château and around fontaines…
I felt completely isolated from other Canadians. I couldn’t do small talk, couldn’t relate to the culture, didn’t understand jokes and when arguing with Feng, I always ended up in tears because it crying was easier than expressing myself in English.
Stereotypes can be used because it’s so damn convenient when unpredictable human beings fit into little boxes, properly labelled. They are broad generalizations, and they are sometime true. But as long as you don’t treat stereotypes as iron-clad laws that apply to every single person, I don’t see why we should pretend they don’t exist.