Archive for the ‘study abroad’ Category

Amurica the beautiful and free

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

HAPPY BELATED INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!!  It was way different celebrating the 4th in Spain.  A few girls and I went to the beach first which was extremely hot! Then Karolina and I were so hungry we found a kebab near by!!  That was my first kebab and it was so good.  Karolina said they are so much better in Europe than in America!  Good thing I had it here first! Anyways, the students tried to get the whole program to hangout at a bar and they would play american music.  That was pretty fun, but it was a Thursday so everyone who lived far from that bar had to get on the last metro to Bilbao — which was like 10:30pm.  That night ended early.  I chilled outside my apartment and just embraced my surroundings.  It was nice!

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FRIDAY


So everyone wanted to go the beach after school.  I went to the res. halls and had my siesta there.  Then, I went to check out the mall with Brittany. There is a McDonalds and a Burger King there.  The McChicken is call the McPollo…. bahaha! But the Big Mac is the same.. Do you Spain! Also, they serve beer here! What an option!imageAfter that, I went back to my place and chilled in the park and just was in realization that I’m so excited to be here, in this country.  I was literally smiling for like 30 mins, then I heard this owl, but it wasn’t an owl.  It was some like of pigeon.  Annoying little thing! image

Saturday


We had a planned excursion by the school to Urdaibai, Spain.  It was about a 30 minute bus ride to the east near the Bay of Biscay. (The video I posted yesterday was from the Mundaka beach. The place was spectacular!  This is the beach that people are allowed to surf at.  We didn’t have much time to go in the water, mainly because we were hungry so we chose finding food over getting to the water.  But we had a great view of the beach and was able to watch the surfers do their thing.  It was awesome! image

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image(also this is a tortilla de patatas)!

The view was so great, seriously I thought I was dreaming again.  Angelica and I were talking about how we dream about going to amazing places in the world.  We’re here at this beautiful beach and now what you know? We just sat there after the ledge and watched the surfers and enjoyed the short time provided to us!  Then it was time for SIESTA!!! Can we begin by stating that there were only 3 serves for 120+ students and staff there.  Let’s just say it took a long time to get the food to everyone!  Our first course was a ensalada con atún = salad with tuna.  They love themselves some tuna!! It was good, but they drenched it in vinegar and oil! The second course was this beef with veggies and mash potatoes.  That was good, but the mash potatoes were different; there wasn’t a real flavor to it.  Almost like paste!! I don’t know!  The dessert was cheesecake.  I do not like cheesecake for real, but this was more like whipped cream and it was soooooo good! I which I could have had seconds on that! It was drizzled with cherries and pistachios! YUM, then they gave us coffee to end the siesta!  It took us 3hours to do all of that! 

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We ended that trip with at tour of the Gernika Museum and of Peace.  That was pretty cool with the conflict with the Civil War and the Basque Country and also how other countries helped Spain recover! image

Diferente dos

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

I’ve been in Spain for two weeks now.  It definitely does not feel that way.  I haven’t been home sick, so that’s a plus! But here are more differences that I have noticed over the weeks.  I wanted to post these before I post the next blog!

1. The building floors began at 0 and go up positive and down negative. For example, a house in America can have a first floor, a second floor and a basement. In Spain, it would be first floor = 0 floor, second floor = 1st floor and basement = -1 floor. Yeah, it makes sense to me, but the whole 0 floor gets me all the time.

2. Beaches in Spain: women are allowed to go topless and babies can be naked. There are some nude beaches but you have to go find them haha. I think it would be cool to say that I’ve been to one, but not take part in it!

3. There are so many pigeons in Bilbao, like there are squirrels on the UMW campus. I prefer the squirrels, because they don’t poop everywhere and they cannot fly!! Also, you can get really close to these pigeons and they don’t fly away just walk faster.  Becka and Haley tried to grab one, I would definitely try it.  But I don’t want the locals to think I’m crazy or something…

4. Families and their kids play on the wide sidewalks throughout town, like in the city!! It’s like normal. Kids ride bikes with parents and there are numerous play parks for kids. I feel like it’s more accepted here, in this busy city than in most American cities. But I found out part of the reason is because a lot of people (adults—between 18-26) don’t have jobs so they go out and do things. The unemployment rate is 28.6% !!! That’s crazy and unbelievable!  They do appreciate their environment and enjoy it while they can.

  • Also, that’s what most host families become host families.  They cannot get a job so they get paid good money to care for a college student.  I could dig it.  I mean it’s sad, but you have to do what you can!

5. People tell me wifi is scare, but it doesn’t seem that way! There is wifi in plazas and in coffee shops and such. We just can’t do anything without wifi. America needs to step it up with free wifi in plazas or at parks (if this isn’t already a thing)!

6. People stare a lot. It’s kind of uncomfortable. They stare for a long time too, like I smile back and they look away like I didn’t catch them staring… Yes, it is apart of their culture like I stated in my earlier post, but it can get uncomfortable.  I’ve learned to say HOLA or smile.  One time I did give them a nasty look, but that wasn’t a good day.  They just know we’re Americans and want to admire and observe us! Different right?

7. There is no HUMIDITY here. It’s amazing. When we went to the beach it was nice not having my towel drenched in sweat! I’ve never experienced that before. So it’s so great! The downfall is iI’m dark-skinned so ash is noticeable on me and my skin gets so dry from no humidity.  It’s so crazy!

8. School is really cheap in Europe.  We talked about this in my IB class, which I found interesting.  It makes me want to move to Spain and go to medical school here!  Why not? WHILE IN SPAIN…..  The bad thing is that the job opportunity sucks here.  A fresh out of school doctor gets paid like €2.000 ( which is less than $2,000)

9. There is very little handicap accessibility.  It’s sad, the entrances to most places/building has a little step.  That is nothing.  I was surprised by this.

10. So let’s talk about the bars.  Some places with a bar do not open their kitchens until 8pm or 9pm.  So they serve pinxtos, which are basically small plates of food to go with your drink.  An example is, tortillas de patatas or a mini sandwich.  They are so good, but it sucks when you go with friends before your host mom has made dinner (remember they don’t eat till like 10pm) so you want to go out and look for food, we have to wait till places are open.  It’s a little different and sometimes stinks because you have not had food since 1pm… yep the ultimate struggle!

11.  The stairwell is backwards here.  Look at the picture and the upward stairs are usually on the right.  THEY’RE ON THE LEFT HERE.  I’ve ran into people because no one knows to walk up them.  We’re not use to this!image

12. Everyone smokes here.  Literally before class Thursday all the teachers were outside smoking! I just walked by all of them and said Hola… It has to be a European thing, because even Erin said people smoke out Italy too. I mean I guess it’s culture! I don’t know if you know this but in the UK they are trying to make a talking cigarette pack to try and make smokers stop smoking.  How crazy is that.  They mentioned it on Live with Kelly and Michael (yeah I still watch it when I have time)!

I kind of like it here…

Friday, July 5th, 2013

I really do.  Okay, so Bilbao is a city but it doesn’t seem as hectic or dirty as the cities in America.  I don’t like comparing, but let’s compare a few things.  

  • First, it is so clean here; yes they smoke a lot (it’s Europe) but the streets are pretty clean.  The metro is so nice, extremely nicer than the ones in DC (haven’t been on the ones in NYC).  The downfall is that it ends Sunday to Thursday at like 10:45pm and Friday and Saturday it runs all night.
  • People stare a lot and it’s a little strange.   I mean different; it’s part of their culture, which I can get use to because they’re basically admiring me (that’s what I’m telling myself!).  
  • Bilbao is near a river (Ria de Bilbao) and a 30 minute metro ride to the ocean/Bay of Biscay!  DC isn’t really near a body of water… 
  • DC is probably twice the size of Bilbao.  It also isn’t very well know, so when tourist visit they stick out like a sour thumb!
  • Continuing off that… DC is so diverse I love that so much!  You basically get food from everywhere.  I would never be homesick. 
  • Bilbao is pretty safe.  I think the professors keep telling us to not go to this part of town that is far south but other than that it’s quite safe!  Ehh DC is safe if you know people from there and familiarize yourself with DC.  Then you will know what parts are not safe, like the SW region!
  • Everyone in DC basically knows some kind of english.  Bilbao’s main language is Spanish or wait is it Basque? Yeah either way it is not my native language.  I could learn, but Basque is a whole other language! Wahh!!

I just adore cities.  The idea of walking around to a shop and saving money (that I do not have) sounds awesome and possible.  And cute shops are everywhere! I want to live in one after college! Who wants to join me!?  (:  Anyway, school here is really cheap but the job situation here sucks.  So I would love to go to Medical school there and then move back to the US and find a job!  That’s possible right? Yeah, let’s do that!

Hey lovely people! Bilbao has been treating me well.  Yes, classes are getting better as we speak….

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Hey lovely people! Bilbao has been treating me well.  Yes, classes are getting better as we speak.  The Spanish 4A (there’s a B class) class is tougher than I thought, but pray for me because the woman talks faster than what I’m use to.  Sorry if I am reiterating this, but there is a guy in my class that speaks French, Spanish, English, German and Arabic… tell me again how I got into this class. Well, he’s not the only one.  There are about 4 other people who are bilingual and are learning spanish as their 3rd language.  Also, it doesn’t help that my host family congregates in the living room and we don’t have dinner together because there isn’t a place to eat meals together.  That’s part of the experience I guess!?  I try to speak to them often, but I feel secluded in my room.  But it hasn’t been a whole week yet either! On the other hand, María complimented me this morning and packed me a lunch for the siesta! (:  And I discovered these beauties during lunch today.  America or UMW needs to step it up. It makes you coffee for like €0,60 (or not even $1) and gives you a good size.  The other machine has sandwiches and some other good options!  Why go out to eat when you can buy a while siesta here?! image

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This International Business class is getting really interesting.  Since I am the only person that is not majoring or minoring in business, everything they say is so interesting about how globalization effects people.  It’s just different than what I’ve been learning with math and science.  So I enjoy that aspect of class.

Then, I was walking down the hallway with Brittany and I saw this man that looked so familiar and realized it was Dr. Jose Sainz (the program director for study abroad to spanish speaking countries I believe, I could be wrong?!)  !!!! I didn’t know what was going on but I was so excited to see him.  I gave him a hug and we talked for a solid 10 minutes.  He was saying that he thought about me when he was at the airport because they were about to miss their flight to Bilbao but they made it in time.  But we will have a UMW meeting tomorrow.  He is just a great person and I was so ecstatic to see him. Haha that was a great and happy moment!

Shopping again?! Psshhh yes, we (Brittany and I) went shopping in Moyua!  They had so many sales.  I think I might be broke by the time I get home?! Yeah, ehh WHEN IN SPAIN…  !

Yesterday, I meet this girl from Norway, Ida, and I asked her if she was with a group like CIDE or something at Deusto. She say she found this program online and doesn’t know much spanish but is in Spanish 3.  She knows the basics like hola and adios.  The point is, I saw her today and we had coffee at Café & Té (which is an awesome place to chat and/or do homework!) after class. While in this coffee shop, I talked to Erin B!!!  We were planning our trip to Rome (:  YAY!

Ciao for now! ("bye" in Italian)!

Words to live by: “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign." — Robert Louis Stevenson

Song of the day: Love and Happiness by Al Green

Homecoming

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Well, that’s it.

After a stressful check-in (apparently the carry-on weight limit is 12 kilos, so I had to leave a bag with my host mother to mail back to me), I got on the first plane and sat in front of a screaming toddler and her mother who was hyperventilating into a sick bag. The entire voyage can’t be like this, I thought. As we took off, it hit me– I am officially leaving. I am no longer on French soil. That view from the plane window is the last I’ll see of Marseille for an indefinite amount of time. So, naturally, I start crying.

These French stweardesses, this French air magazine, this is really the last time I’ll be surrounded by the language I love so much. Once I leave, French goes back to being a hobby. This was only confirmed when I got to the Schipol airport in Amsterdam, where all the signs are in English and I had to speak English just to buy a bottle of water. How depressing.

Of course, even though I’m going home and even though I will no longer be speaking French 24/7, everything will be different at home. The experiences I had and the knowledge I have gained will always be with me. I will never look at certain things the same way again. The way I think, the way I communicate, have been enriched by my time abroad. I have become so self-aware and interculturally aware in the past 4 months. Like Lilli (the AUCP director) said to us on the second-to-last day, this experience will shape and direct the rest of our lives. We will forever be drawn to the international, to the adventure.

I wrote all that in the Schipol airport, fighting back tears and sleepiness, absolutely terrified to go back to the real world, yet trying to stay positive and reflective. As I watched the Welcome to the USA video in the passport line at Boston Logan, I felt a warm and familiar connection to the country waiting for me just beyond those doors. I have to say that for the first few days it was so nice to be home with my family. Strangely, I feel closer to them than ever. Maybe it’s because I’m an “adult” now, or because being under the same roof of my parents has become a rarity. Spending most of the past three years away (and the past 4 months even farther) from my family makes me appreciate them that much more.

Nevertheless, that dreaded “ reverse culture shock” has to hit eventually.  My first culture shock was at Chipotle. I had begged my family to take me there for dinner since I had missed Mexican food in France, but I was completely in awe at the size of the “small” drinks. Those cups are enormous! Who would want to drink that much soda?! From there, I went grocery shopping with my mom. It was there that the jet lag really set in. I was so overwhelmed. Aisle after aisle, product after product, brand after brand, sale signs and clearance bins… I was actually exhausted after a few minutes. Next came American TV. American commercials are SO annoying! And why does every store need to commercialize Memorial Day? How are there this many reality tv shows? I kind of liked watching my favorite shows dubbed in French, it’s more interesting and challenging.

What about reverse homesickness for France? I definitely miss it, but I’d say I’m nostalgic in a good way. I love sharing photos and stories, I love revisiting the memories. I know I’m not in France anymore, but it’s like my special place that I can go to in my mind. I’m happy and grateful for my experience abroad, not depressed because it’s over. I just want to keep it alive: French films, conversations with my dad and French-speaking friends, my internship, the international community at UMW, who knows?

I’m a mix of nervous and excited to get back to my life in Fredericksburg. I’m impatiently waiting to see my friends again. But I want to share everything with them, and I know they’ll get bored of it. An experience abroad is something you can only relate to if you’ve done it yourself, and even then those experiences can be drastically different. I’m sure I will have a new perspective in my international relations classes in the fall. I’m going to come across as a know-it-all in my French class. Does the Arabic I learned in France sync up with the UMW class I missed? 

I’m just so happy that I got to study abroad. I visited places I never thought I’d visit, I made lifelong friends, I used parts of my brain I had never had to use before, I learned to understand and appreciate other cultures. I have gained invaluable knowledge that has expanded the way I think, analyze, and communicate. And I know that one day, I will make it back to France!

Homecoming

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Well, that’s it.

After a stressful check-in (apparently the carry-on weight limit is 12 kilos, so I had to leave a bag with my host mother to mail back to me), I got on the first plane and sat in front of a screaming toddler and her mother who was hyperventilating into a sick bag. The entire voyage can’t be like this, I thought. As we took off, it hit me— I am officially leaving. I am no longer on French soil. That view from the plane window is the last I’ll see of Marseille for an indefinite amount of time. So, naturally, I start crying.

These French stweardesses, this French air magazine, this is really the last time I’ll be surrounded by the language I love so much. Once I leave, French goes back to being a hobby. This was only confirmed when I got to the Schipol airport in Amsterdam, where all the signs are in English and I had to speak English just to buy a bottle of water. How depressing.

Of course, even though I’m going home and even though I will no longer be speaking French 24/7, everything will be different at home. The experiences I had and the knowledge I have gained will always be with me. I will never look at certain things the same way again. The way I think, the way I communicate, have been enriched by my time abroad. I have become so self-aware and interculturally aware in the past 4 months. Like Lilli (the AUCP director) said to us on the second-to-last day, this experience will shape and direct the rest of our lives. We will forever be drawn to the international, to the adventure.

I wrote all that in the Schipol airport, fighting back tears and sleepiness, absolutely terrified to go back to the real world, yet trying to stay positive and reflective. As I watched the Welcome to the USA video in the passport line at Boston Logan, I felt a warm and familiar connection to the country waiting for me just beyond those doors. I have to say that for the first few days it was so nice to be home with my family. Strangely, I feel closer to them than ever. Maybe it’s because I’m an “adult" now, or because being under the same roof of my parents has become a rarity. Spending most of the past three years away (and the past 4 months even farther) from my family makes me appreciate them that much more.

Nevertheless, that dreaded " reverse culture shock" has to hit eventually.  My first culture shock was at Chipotle. I had begged my family to take me there for dinner since I had missed Mexican food in France, but I was completely in awe at the size of the “small" drinks. Those cups are enormous! Who would want to drink that much soda?! From there, I went grocery shopping with my mom. It was there that the jet lag really set in. I was so overwhelmed. Aisle after aisle, product after product, brand after brand, sale signs and clearance bins… I was actually exhausted after a few minutes. Next came American TV. American commercials are SO annoying! And why does every store need to commercialize Memorial Day? How are there this many reality tv shows? I kind of liked watching my favorite shows dubbed in French, it’s more interesting and challenging.

What about reverse homesickness for France? I definitely miss it, but I’d say I’m nostalgic in a good way. I love sharing photos and stories, I love revisiting the memories. I know I’m not in France anymore, but it’s like my special place that I can go to in my mind. I’m happy and grateful for my experience abroad, not depressed because it’s over. I just want to keep it alive: French films, conversations with my dad and French-speaking friends, my internship, the international community at UMW, who knows?

I’m a mix of nervous and excited to get back to my life in Fredericksburg. I’m impatiently waiting to see my friends again. But I want to share everything with them, and I know they’ll get bored of it. An experience abroad is something you can only relate to if you’ve done it yourself, and even then those experiences can be drastically different. I’m sure I will have a new perspective in my international relations classes in the fall. I’m going to come across as a know-it-all in my French class. Does the Arabic I learned in France sync up with the UMW class I missed? 

I’m just so happy that I got to study abroad. I visited places I never thought I’d visit, I made lifelong friends, I used parts of my brain I had never had to use before, I learned to understand and appreciate other cultures. I have gained invaluable knowledge that has expanded the way I think, analyze, and communicate. And I know that one day, I will make it back to France!

Stéréotypes

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Un élément crucial du programme d’AUCP, c’est sa perspective interculturelle. Tous les étudiants doivent suivre un cours qui s’appelle Cultural Patterns of France and North Africa. On étudie la politique, la religion, et l’identité dans un environnement international. On essaie de tenir le miroir de nos propres identités. Le but, c’est de créer des liens entre cultures, de devenir un pont entre les Etats-Unis, l’Europe, le Moyen Orient, et l’Afrique.  

Pendant mes études et mes interactions ici, j’ai noté que les Américains ne connaissent pas vraiment les Français et vice versa. Par exemple, les Français pensent que les Américains mangent que du fast-food, que chaque Américain est propriétaire d’une arme, et que tout le monde déteste les noirs. Evidemment, ne n’est pas le cas. D’ailleurs, il n’y pas mal de stéréotypes américaines envers les Français que je trouve actuellement ridicule. Et donc, je vous présente une petite liste de mes observations.

 

Les Stéréotypes Françaises que je trouve plus ou moins vraies:

-On adore le vin et en boit tout le temps.

-On adore le fromage et en mange tout le temps.  En effet, je dirais que 98% de mes repas chez ma famille terminent avec du fromage.  

-“Pardon my French.”  Absolument, carrément, vraie. Je pourrais parler pendant 5 minutes en ne disant que de l’argot et des gros mots.  Merde alors


Les St
éréotypes Françaises qui ne sont pas vraies (ou au moins, pas a Marseille!):

-Les Français sont des crâneurs.  C’est vrai, mais seulement a Paris! Au Sud, c’est une culture différente. Ici, on est détendu, méditerranéen. Ici, ce n’est pas la capitale. Ici, c’est la vie quotidienne des gens réels. Marseille en particulier est une ville diverse et unique. Parfois j’ai même l’impression qu’elle ne se prend pas au sérieux.

-Les Français sont les plus romantiques du monde.  …Pas forcément. Encore une fois, ici on n’est pas Paris. Ici, c’est quoi, la classe? Il serait plus correct de dire simplement que le “PDA” est ordinaire, même encouragé, chez les Français.  

-Les Français sont racistes.  Possiblement vrai, mais c’est une variété de racisme complètement différente, et a mon avis moins sérieuse, que celle des Etats-Unis. Par exemple, en France on a la tendance a identifier les personnes par leur race. Mais, ce n’est pas parce qu’ils se croient supérieur a cette personne, c’est parce que la notion de “politically correct” est moins renforcée culturellement. Par exemple, si je disais que quelqu’un est noir, il n’y aurait aucune connotation de la haine derrière; ce n’est qu’une observation. Mais si j’avais fait une action inspirée par la haine, je serais indubitablement et gravement punie par la loi. En plus, les origines sont moins importantes que la citoyenneté, car la relation des immigrés avec la France est bien différente. Ici quand je dis que je suis Italienne, on croit que je viens d’Italie. Je suis avant tout Américaine, mes ancêtres n’ont rien a voir avec (selon les Français). Il s’agit de l’universalisme français. Aux Etats-Unis, je crois que le racisme est plus profondément enraciné, mais on n’en parle pas.  

Ben alors il est possible que j’avais des autres choses dont j’ai voulu parler, mais je suis fatiguée et je vous laisse avec cette petite analyse.  

Stéréotypes

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Un élément crucial du programme d’AUCP, c’est sa perspective interculturelle. Tous les étudiants doivent suivre un cours qui s’appelle Cultural Patterns of France and North Africa. On étudie la politique, la religion, et l’identité dans un environnement international. On essaie de tenir le miroir de nos propres identités. Le but, c’est de créer des liens entre cultures, de devenir un pont entre les Etats-Unis, l’Europe, le Moyen Orient, et l’Afrique.  

Pendant mes études et mes interactions ici, j’ai noté que les Américains ne connaissent pas vraiment les Français et vice versa. Par exemple, les Français pensent que les Américains mangent que du fast-food, que chaque Américain est propriétaire d’une arme, et que tout le monde déteste les noirs. Evidemment, ne n’est pas le cas. D’ailleurs, il n’y pas mal de stéréotypes américaines envers les Français que je trouve actuellement ridicule. Et donc, je vous présente une petite liste de mes observations.

 

Les Stéréotypes Françaises que je trouve plus ou moins vraies:

-On adore le vin et en boit tout le temps.

-On adore le fromage et en mange tout le temps.  En effet, je dirais que 98% de mes repas chez ma famille terminent avec du fromage.  

-"Pardon my French."  Absolument, carrément, vraie. Je pourrais parler pendant 5 minutes en ne disant que de l’argot et des gros mots.  Merde alors


Les St
éréotypes Françaises qui ne sont pas vraies (ou au moins, pas a Marseille!):

-Les Français sont des crâneurs.  C’est vrai, mais seulement a Paris! Au Sud, c’est une culture différente. Ici, on est détendu, méditerranéen. Ici, ce n’est pas la capitale. Ici, c’est la vie quotidienne des gens réels. Marseille en particulier est une ville diverse et unique. Parfois j’ai même l’impression qu’elle ne se prend pas au sérieux.

-Les Français sont les plus romantiques du monde.  …Pas forcément. Encore une fois, ici on n’est pas Paris. Ici, c’est quoi, la classe? Il serait plus correct de dire simplement que le “PDA" est ordinaire, même encouragé, chez les Français.  

-Les Français sont racistes.  Possiblement vrai, mais c’est une variété de racisme complètement différente, et a mon avis moins sérieuse, que celle des Etats-Unis. Par exemple, en France on a la tendance a identifier les personnes par leur race. Mais, ce n’est pas parce qu’ils se croient supérieur a cette personne, c’est parce que la notion de “politically correct" est moins renforcée culturellement. Par exemple, si je disais que quelqu’un est noir, il n’y aurait aucune connotation de la haine derrière; ce n’est qu’une observation. Mais si j’avais fait une action inspirée par la haine, je serais indubitablement et gravement punie par la loi. En plus, les origines sont moins importantes que la citoyenneté, car la relation des immigrés avec la France est bien différente. Ici quand je dis que je suis Italienne, on croit que je viens d’Italie. Je suis avant tout Américaine, mes ancêtres n’ont rien a voir avec (selon les Français). Il s’agit de l’universalisme français. Aux Etats-Unis, je crois que le racisme est plus profondément enraciné, mais on n’en parle pas.  

Ben alors il est possible que j’avais des autres choses dont j’ai voulu parler, mais je suis fatiguée et je vous laisse avec cette petite analyse.  

Stéréotypes

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Un élément crucial du programme d'AUCP, c'est sa perspective interculturelle. Tous les étudiants doivent suivre un cours qui s'appelle Cultural Patterns of France and North Africa. On étudie la politique, la religion, et l'identité dans un environnement international. On essaie de tenir le miroir de nos propres identités. Le but, c'est de créer des liens entre cultures, de devenir un pont entre les Etats-Unis, l'Europe, le Moyen Orient, et l'Afrique.  

Pendant mes études et mes interactions ici, j'ai noté que les Américains ne connaissent pas vraiment les Français et vice versa. Par exemple, les Français pensent que les Américains mangent que du fast-food, que chaque Américain est propriétaire d'une arme, et que tout le monde déteste les noirs. Evidemment, ne n'est pas le cas. D'ailleurs, il n'y pas mal de stéréotypes américaines envers les Français que je trouve actuellement ridicule. Et donc, je vous présente une petite liste de mes observations.

Les Stéréotypes Françaises que je trouve plus ou moins vraies:

-On adore le vin et en boit tout le temps.

-On adore le fromage et en mange tout le temps.  En effet, je dirais que 98% de mes repas chez ma famille terminent avec du fromage.  

-“Pardon my French.”  Absolument, carrément, vraie. Je pourrais parler pendant 5 minutes en ne disant que de l'argot et des gros mots.  Merde alors! 


Les Stéréotypes Françaises qui ne sont pas vraies (ou au moins, pas a Marseille!):

-Les Français sont des crâneurs.  C'est vrai, mais seulement a Paris! Au Sud, c'est une culture différente. Ici, on est détendu, méditerranéen. Ici, ce n'est pas la capitale. Ici, c'est la vie quotidienne des gens réels. Marseille en particulier est une ville diverse et unique. Parfois j'ai même l'impression qu'elle ne se prend pas au sérieux.

-Les Français sont les plus romantiques du monde.  …Pas forcément. Encore une fois, ici on n'est pas Paris. Ici, c'est quoi, la classe? Il serait plus correct de dire simplement que le “PDA” est ordinaire, même encouragé, chez les Français.  

-Les Français sont racistes.  Possiblement vrai, mais c'est une variété de racisme complètement différente, et a mon avis moins sérieuse, que celle des Etats-Unis. Par exemple, en France on a la tendance a identifier les personnes par leur race. Mais, ce n'est pas parce qu'ils se croient supérieur a cette personne, c'est parce que la notion de “politically correct” est moins renforcée culturellement. Par exemple, si je disais que quelqu'un est noir, il n'y aurait aucune connotation de la haine derrière; ce n'est qu'une observation. Mais si j'avais fait une action inspirée par la haine, je serais indubitablement et gravement punie par la loi. En plus, les origines sont moins importantes que la citoyenneté, car la relation des immigrés avec la France est bien différente. Ici quand je dis que je suis Italienne, on croit que je viens d'Italie. Je suis avant tout Américaine, mes ancêtres n'ont rien a voir avec (selon les Français). Il s'agit de l'universalisme français. Aux Etats-Unis, je crois que le racisme est plus profondément enraciné, mais on n'en parle pas.  

Ben alors il est possible que j'avais des autres choses dont j'ai voulu parler, mais je suis fatiguée et je vous laisse avec cette petite analyse.  

Marseille is the New Jersey of France…

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Something most of us discovered at the beginning of our semester, is that most French people who are not Marseillais, do not like Marseille.  It smells bad.  It’s full of immigrants.  There’s no class.  There’s dog sh*t EVERYWHERE (Ok, I have to agree, I hate that too. Is there really nothing we can do about that??).  Their accent is weird.  They love to exaggerate .  It may be the oldest and second-biggest city in the country, but who cares.  It doesn’t have the classical power and sophistication of Paris. It’s not as quiet and quaint as the rest of Provence.  It’s just, “ugh. Mar-say-yeuh." *eye roll*

Well, I am not ashamed to admit: I LOVE MARSEILLE.  It is MY city.  It is my home away from home away from home.  I know the streets, the neighborhoods, I know the restaurants and stores, I know the metro lines, I know the bars and clubs, I know the history, I know the languages, I know the Calanques.  I have lived this city, and I have grown quite fond of it. I may sound like a foreigner, but I no longer feel like one.  I belong here. I am proud to be here.

I love hearing the Marseille accent (like a southern twang), from my host dad to the cashier at Carrefour to random people in the street.  I love turning a corner in Noailles and feeling like I’m in North Africa.  I love being able to look down from my house on top of the hill and seeing all the red tile rooftops against the blue blue sky (there are never clouds in Marseille, the wind chases them away).  I love walking around Vieux Port, seeing the heart, the birthplace, of the city.  I love when I am able to give people directions, or when I successfully interact with a cashier or a waiter.  I love having established a routine, yet at the same time always experiencing something new.  I love the food, pastis, the tiny expressos  the fruit and vegetable markets, that random brass band that shows up around town and covers pop songs. I love the noise. I love the diversity. I love how you can walk for a few minutes and suddenly find yourself on the corniche on the cliffs around the sea.  

So, judge away. I won’t hear you because I’ll be busy speaking “Frarabic” and making cultural observations and swimming in the Mediterranean.