Sunday, 28 December 2014

Ways in Which I Have Become French

My mum commented to me over Christmas that she thinks I am in the process of becoming more and more French. As I mentioned in a previous post, I think that my work environment and social circle are far too anglophone/international for this to be much the case, but I did think it would be fun to make a list of Gallic habits that I might have acquired over the past few years, so here we go.

1. Wearing Scarves
Not so much a little Hermès number, elegantly knotted over a chic cashmere jumper, but I do wear a scarf with my outdoor clothes much more often than I ever did before. In Scotland, I think I always had the mentality that, however miserable the weather, there was always the possibility that it might get worse, so there always had to be an additional layer that could be donned in the case of really severe conditions.

2. Apéritif Snacks
I used to be someone who would always choose sweet over savoury for a snack. Nowadays, if I'm a bit peckish before dinner time, even if I'm by myself and not having alcohol, I prefer to have a drink of something other than water, and some olives, crudités or little pieces of ham or cheese. This in itself may not be terribly French, but the underlying cause is not wanting to eat sweet and savoury things in the wrong order, which never bothered me in the past.

3. Keeping Trainers for Sport (and fleece jackets for the countryside)
Funnily enough, Understanding Frenchman breaks this rule more often than I do. I suspect he's trying to prove that he's not Parisian.

4. Le Bonjourisme
Not in a dictatorial way, but I do find it feels natural to say hello when I walk into a shop these days. On the other hand, I have also retained my Scottish habit of saying thank you to bus drivers.

5. Not Eating on the Run
This isn't some virtuous "I never snack and only eat wholesome 3-course meals" type claim. It's just that I love my food too much to be distracted when I'm eating it.

6. Comfortable Silences
More than the British, French people prefer silence to inane chatter. As someone who's not great at small talk, that suits me.

7. Talking About Sleep
Like food, rest is culturally important in France. I've always loved sleeping, so it's nice to live in a place where a long lie and a siesta are seen as healthy habits rather than laziness. And, just as with food, sleep is an appropriate topic of conversation too.

8. French Kissing
As in, faire la bise. As I explained in my previous post, it's so much easier than not knowing how to introduce yourself at all.

I like to think that some of these positive changes might be down to my being older and wiser as well as more Frenchified, but after 7 years of immersion, it's difficult to tell.

What about you? Have you acquired any good (or bad) habits from an adopted country?


  1. I guess I'm still French, then, because all your points made a lot of sense to me. Except maybe sleep, I'm fairly casual about my sleep, but I definitely don't see naps and sleeping in as "laziness", as it is often considered in North America.

    1. Well, I think all of these are pretty good habits to hang on to!

  2. When you said "eating on the run" I thought you would mean walking around or on public transport. Maybe regarding that as deeply shameful is one thing I've picked up. (Or maybe that is what you meant?)

    Other than that, I don't know... I've heard plenty of times about French women not wearing dresses or low-cut tops or makeup, definitely haven't changed there :)

    I am sometimes embarrassed to be with people who are speaking loudly in public, but hopefully haven't adopted the French habit of speaking in the same quiet murmur in a noisy pub even if you say "pardon" three times to them ;)

    1. That is what I meant - I'm not coordinated enough to think about walking and think about my food at the same time, and I hate eating standing up. I'm with you on the loud voices too, especially since Understanding Frenchman told me that if you do that on the metro, people will do everything to pretend they're not listening to you when they're actually hanging on to every word ... and probably judging you for it too!

  3. I think I've picked up most of these as well!

    Except the whole eating on the run thing. Maybe it's from being in a big city that's not Paris, but I see a lot of people munching on a sandwich or what have you as they walk. I don't really do that, but I don't necessarily take much more time and seeing people who do eat on the run doesn't really shock anyone around here.

    I've become more patient since being in France. I'm still not as patient as some French people are with waiting in lines or to get things done, but when I'm at home with my mom, I see the difference. I used to be like her, but now I find myself telling her to calm down and be patient. Especially when it comes to waiting in a restaurant.

    1. Oh, patience is a good one. Although I think in my case it's more to do with lowered expectations than anything else!

    2. Haha. That could be it as well!

  4. I don't dress as casually as I used to (and never wear sneakers anymore besides for sports), and I definitely don't snack like I used to. I used to eat a bowl of cereal any time of the day, sometimes instead of a meal, but it's been years since I've done that. I will eat alone however, and I'm still taken off guard by my colleagues who express mild distress when they see me eating alone.

  5. I hadn't thought about it, but I think I have become Canadian in many ways - fab inspiration for a future post, thanks!

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