Culture shock in France [part 2]?!

Ok, so I may not experience the dreaded 'culture shock' that people talk about--maybe I will, after all, it's early days in France-- but there have been an fair amount of 'little' cultural differences that I've noticed acutely during my short time here (There's been a few cultural similarities which have caught me off guard as well!) . 'Ok, for example..?' you ask. Where do I start?

  • Cars, trains and pedestrians traverse on the right hand side, rather than the left.
  • Note to self: this means I need to stop trying to be the driver when I catch a lift with my friends (the steering wheel is of course on the left)
  • Maccas is heaps more expensive over here
  • Paperwork takes a tad longer here due to inefficient inter-department and political processes
  • Customs can delay postage deliveries for about  10 days (or even longer)
  • A positive difference is that people in Lille are often bilingual, or can speak 3 or more languages (take that mono-linguistic Australia)!
  • A similarity which surprised me is the songs that the protestan evangelical churches sing--often translations of songs written by American or Australian song writers (speaking of which, it's quite funny that quite a few youth at the church that I've got involved with "L'eau vie" ask me very excitedly have I seen Hillsong!) The songs they sing are admittedly quite old, perhaps 15-25y.o. But it's quite refreshing hearing people sing it gutsily in a foreign language.
  • Pedestrians in Lille, in my opinion, are more aggressive than in Australia. Why do I say aggressive? Well, for a start, they start crossing the street when there are cars right in front of them,even when the pedestrian crossing lights are red! (not that Australians don't do that though!)
  • Waiting for a metro train is a treat as nowadays I just rock up to the station anytime and there will be a train in the next few minutes. Also, all the metro trains are automated! Kinda freaky but clever.
  • Wine is easily available--you just go to a regular supermarche and there will be a whole aisle of every wine you can imagine for a couple of euros
  • This may seem a bit of an odd difference, but it really surprised me! All the checkout guys and girls sit down rather than stand. It may seem little, but I kid you not that when you go overseas you notice these differences!

Read on...

My early wonderings aloud whether I'd get cultural shock...
My impressions of Lille 3, my university.
For my experiences of the Homeless in France, click here.


Mrbonchapeau said...

Today I was chatting with a new friend of mine who can speak 7 languages. He's 19. Granted, some languages he speaks better than others. But this really should be a challenge to mono-linguistic white caucasian Australians who are pleased if they know a little bit of french from high school! Is it a lack of opportunity to practise language here in Down Under? What do you think?

Sheid said...

I think it's a lack of perceived importance, not opportunity. We're one of the most multi-cultural countries in the world, right?? There's bound to be someone you can practice with.
But most immigrants speak English anyways, and we're surrounded by people who speak English as a first language and there's that growing trend for everyone everwhere to learn English, how does it become important to bother to learn another language?

Hmmmm. I wonder if that shows some sort of egocentricity on behalf of us English-as-a-first-languagers?

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