Wednesday, January 26, 2011

French Lifestyle Observations

This may be quite obvious to those of you who know a bit about French life, but here's just a summary of things I've been finding out lately:

  • French people seem to have dinner, then cheese, then dessert. I had the vague notion that cheese was its own course, but I didn't realize quite how legitimate and normal it was to go systematically from main course to cheese/bread. Then, sometimes instead of dessert, they have just a plain yogurt, occasionally with granola or some sort of similar topping.
  • They are very serious about conviviality and their own brand of hospitality. I have apparently offended at least two French people by not offering dessert or snacks when I had gotten them for myself and a friend, and the French people happened to be in the vicinity and learned I hadn't been prepared to offer them any (in my defense, I didn't know they'd be there!).
  • They are quite particular about money. Maybe it's just the people I've met in this specific region, but I've been obligated on several occasions to reimburse people for things that Americans just wouldn't ask for. At least, not polite Americans.
  • Very few of them use Gmail. Most French people I know use Hotmail, Yahoo, or the local internet/phone providers' services (, MSN is still big beyond American borders, and nobody knows about Gchat or AIM (I think AIM started dying a long time ago anyway). The students use Facebook chat a lot, apparently.
  • PDA is a way of life here. It's kind of disgusting and off-putting but also kind of sweet. Mostly off-putting.
  • Maybe this is just the older teachers I've seen, but so many of the teachers type with one finger!! How is this phenomenon still in existence?
  • It's perfectly normal - one of the teachers literally said this to me, so she can vouch for this information - to have several classes canceled in a week or postponed. It's somewhat rare for me to have a full week. For the past month, my engineering students' class has been canceled because they were in a work placement. For the next two weeks, the vocational secretary students will be gone for a work placement. Last Wednesday, all the economics/management students were gone for a three-day trip to Strasbourg. And don't forget about the occasional strike or snowstorm, or plain and simple absenteeism. I've had an entire class decline to attend my course because their normal English teacher is ill, and they somehow think I won't be there either. Weird.
And now for words of the day:
  • Ca tue! - Killer!/Sweet! (haha I don't know if people say "killer" these days, but that's sort of how it translates). This was said multiple times in response to my showing the kids my signature- and photo-stocked high school yearbook.
  • Fifi/Titi (or Toutou) - cutesy names for a cat and dog, respectively. Don't know if these are univerally accepted by French people, or just the lady I'm living with.


    1. -PDA: mostly off-putting for surzies
      -one finger? really? ... *pause to try and put thoughts into words*...

    2. I am typing this with one finger, it is rather difficult. Do you mean one finger on each hand, or a total of one finger? Oh by the way, I gave up haha. Too much effort to type with one hand. Counting down the days :)!!!

    3. I agree with Katie--counting down the days:)!!!!

    4. Not that anyone else cares about pronunciation, but I would like to know how to pronounce some of the French vocabulary that you post on your blog--Fifi is obvious, but "Toutou" is difficult for this ol' lady to figure out. No need to respond until you get home. Thanks! I love you! Mom