I knew the moment I attended UGA’s “First Look” program that I wanted to study abroad. At that time, I didn’t know where I wanted to go, nor what type of program I wanted to go through, but once I saw that French was a language option I could learn here, I knew that France would be my destination trip for a study abroad opportunity. I love food, I have always been emotionally attached to food, and I knew that France would offer the quality of food that would please my curiosity of food prepared or coming from a culture that is all about their food! I’m a food science major, so learning of how they produce their chocolates, wine, poultry, dairy, cheese, and anything else that I did not mention fully intrigued me, and I had a great time. I learned a lot and even accepted the ignorance and superficial beliefs I had prior to this trip was completely wrong. I thought freshness of France’s cuisines stemmed from all their food being of organic quality; I could not have been so foolishly wrong.
I interacted with many locals of France, and I was there long enough to pick up on some of the cultural differences that the French have in comparison to the United States. Honestly, there is a lot. The big one, which I was not expecting, was simply the restaurant environment. In the U.S. we have waiters that are constantly interacting with the table and constantly checking in on us. I am not saying that the French do not care about us or our experience at their restaurant, but they certainly do not come to the table that often. French restaurant culture is all about the food and conversation with the individuals you are eating with instead of receiving an experience out of the restaurant. You’re not constantly being checked on to see if you need a refill, they bring out the actual bottle of whatever beverage you want, and a glass to pour it in. Table water is even served in a huge bottle. Typically you tell them all the meals you want at one time, so when they see that everyone is finished with their appetizer, they will bring out your entree with ultimate swiftness. Because of this culture, we were stuck at restaurants for a minimum of two hours, where in the U.S., you would be given your check immediately, and practically kicked out, but not in France; everything is at a slow and steady pace here. There were a lot of interesting cultural differences here, but I can’t think of all of them, so I provided some pictures and captions below to help guide some more of these unique experiences:
This is a Snapchat image I took of the promenade shopping avenue that Toulouse offered. I went to their local Adidas store here, and I am not sure if this location offered this service, but without asking, I was brought many clothes to try on, which I absolutely adored! They even spoke English too, which is common in places of business, but to my pleasure, it was a nice surprise!
Le Capitole. This is the capital or the main government building of Toulouse that I took a picture of through Snapchat again. Many festivals and events take place around here. I witnessed a Multicultural Festival and a Caribbean Parade of a “Walk with Jesus”.
This is a Burger King that they have here. I know the picture looks ordinary, and does not really shine, but I took it in order to capture that there is a man ordering his meal through a window. Because many people in France walk or take public transportation, they embedded what I decided to call a “Walk-thru” instead of a “Drive-thru”.
This is a picture I took on the top of a hill in Nice, France. It was absolutely beautiful! Fun fact about this beach is that they do not have sand here. What looks like sand in this picture, is actually giant stones! Don’t walk with your bare feet if you’re not used to walking on hot and un-leveled stones.
This is just an image of me taken by a classmate of mine on this program. This was in Nice, France as well. They have an artificial waterfall upon that hill in Nice, so we all wanted a memorabilia of it that just consisted of us taking a picture around it.
This is the Chateau of Carcassonne, or the castle of Carcassonne. When you are walking towards the castle, in the distance, you will see abstract yellow lines placed all over the castle. Many of my peers thought it was tacky and unappealing, but I found it intriguing for good reason. When you make it to the castle, there is a deep corner that aligns all of those “abstract yellow lines”, and you can see it in the picture I took above. It looks like paint, but the lines are actually yellow tape. We unfortunately never learned why the tapes was on there like that, but I decided to just research it when I go home and have consistent wifi.