Tutorial Transcript

Salut YouTube! I have got my friend Veronica with me! So my name is Veronica I work in human resources with Rosie we're colleagues/coworkers and I've been living in France for three years now. But your history with France or at least French extends a little bit longer right? I started learning French in middle school studied all through high school and then actually majored in it it was one of my degrees as an undergrad in the US. We wanted to do a video today really on how it feels to be an American living in France and particularly living in Paris differently an interesting relationship between the French and the Americans from what I perceive not being either I can see there's a funny dynamic going on I think you were saying right there is a long history between the two? Yep France has been America's longest ally and first ally, going way back to like 1778. I see it almost sibling kind of rivalry it's like a love hate type of thing going on we're going to talk about that a little bit today because it's really interesting and how those kind of cliches translate into what people actually live and experience when they come to a new country. When you introduce yourself you know as Hi I'm Veronica I'm from America what's the general first reaction of people? To be honest I would hesitate even mentioning where I am from unless someone asked but usually I wouldn't I wouldn't start with that as like the go-to and then once we've gotten a feel for each other maybe I'll say oh yeah I'm actually American because I would attempt to first have a conversation in French rather than English and therefore people would say oh you sound Spanish or are you from Russia you know, no one could ever quite figure it out. Why were you kind of not so forthcoming with that? Yeah to be honest I knew the stereotypes French people have of Americans and I didn't want to immediately fall into that category of well she's a typical American cliche or that people assume that that's how I'm going to act in the future. I want them to build an opinion after having gotten to know me. What do you think are the cliches I mean the real cliche cliches that French people have about Americans? Some of the cliches that I really do think are correct people in the US or Americans, even when they're abroad, are quite friendly they can start up a conversation with anyone you don't have to necessarily know each other to have a you know full-on conversation even if you don't build a you know deep profound friendship after that you can you can very commonly you know run into an American have like an hour long chat at a coffee shop or in the bus and it's totally normal. The smiling as well I think is totally normal if you're an American first moving to France which was a huge thing that I always did and I've toned that down a bit. And just being openly friendly and not being always suspicious of other people's motives but you're just openly willing to help and and there's no underlying reason. They're not trying to scam you. It's just being nice and trying to help. That was something that I think is true and I think that's what French people typically think of Americans. I can't say 100 percent of Americans but in general. Do you feel like there are parts of your personality that you've toned down living here in order to fit the mold a little bit? Yes so after having lived in France for maybe like four or five months and I was getting kind of feedback from other French people that I was getting to know either at work or in my social life and they were you know saying oh you're too friendly you're smiling too much, you're sugary, a sugary American at some point I was like gosh you know I should really kind of reevaluate my approach I really try to be less friendly definitely not smiling at strangers in the street because that just attracts unwanted attention for all the wrong reasons,. In Paris at least. In Paris for sure. And there are moments even today three years later I sometimes get excited about something and then I forget like oh you know no one else is speaking as loudly as I am. The looks say it all like that's all you need but as well the superficiality of how we communicate how we express ourselves the hyperboles, just everything is grand and magnificent. It's funny like when I hear like "pas mal" when I first heard that in French it was you know it's actually quite good yeah where is like in English when you translate that, pas mal is like not bad but you know it actually means like it's probably terrible you know. Imagine if you're telling a child like oh what you did today was not bad Yeah I mean in the workplace I was also told myself like to maybe smile less that's almost associated with being...they can't take you seriously If you are too nice it's like succeeding in business those things don't really mix. Like it's always worked for me up until now like all the opposite advice! Have you ever had any kind of negative experiences? Yeah so now that I've been here three years I've kind of seen the whole range of reactions to this so yes I agree like at work I had a lot of that kind of feedback from French managers and then in my personal relationships you know when I'm starting to meet more and more French people yeah they'll they'll be like oh wow like they're actually intrigued they want to know more and they'll sometimes I'll get questions like is it really like that, do you do really have like cheerleaders and football players like did you really have lockers? and you have to be honest some of those things are actually quite true maybe they're a bit exaggerated in films but yeah most of the time I was actually pleasantly surprised in knowing that most people are intrigued and they want to know more and they're curious and usually they won't start the conversation with assuming that there's a stereotype but rather what is my take and is it true. Oh nice, that's good, they're wanting to head the reality. The other side, yeah. Overall I mean life as an American living in France how have you seen yourself change for the better and how have you seen yourself you know maybe on the other side have you had to give anything up that you used to really appreciate? So it's funny because the longer I live in Paris or in France you know the more I realize just how American I am. Now when a French person says oh Americans can be superficial and actually I'll say maybe it's not maybe superficiality but it's the fact that they're open to starting a conversation maybe being friendly but that doesn't mean they're actually your friend and we're actually more similar to the French then we'd like to admit but French people as well you know they take a long time before they really call you a friend yeah and Americans I think would say the same we're just more open to that initial conversation and more open to creating those relationships but at the end of the day I think an American wouldn't say that you're a best friend any faster than a French person would. The hugging, that's just so common it's just how you greet your friends and I'm just like oh don't touch me like you know of course it quickly comes back but it's one of those things like I'm ready for the bise (French cheek kiss) and I keep my distance and yeah it's so funny because when I first moved to Paris I thought wow the bise is very intimate and in reality like all the French people were like well no hugging is like bodily contact yeah As well you know I think in comparison to French people I'm quite loud but when I go back to the u.s. I'm like wow everyone is just screaming, nobody needs to hear our conversation but that's just kind of the the thing that strikes me every time. It amazes me how friendly and how helpful Americans want to be even to complete in total strangers and every time I go back to the US it's something that shocks me I was in New York a few months ago and I had run out of money on my my metro pass or my subway pass and someone right behind me was like oh honey don't worry like let me pay for it and he just scanned his card for me and it was just he had no reason to, he didn't know me, we had no prior contact but it was just so nice and like I was like struggling with my luggage to get through. It just puts a smile on my face and it kind of reassures me and it's just unfortunate but those are the kinds of things that you'll never really see in Paris or very rarely see and they're things that I'd really miss to be honest. The quality of life that I have in France doesn't even compare to what I will probably have in the u.s. in terms of health care and holidays and and work-life balance and it's amazing though that in the u.s. there's yes this optimism this positive energy all the time things could be just terrible and we still find the of the light at the end of the tunnel no matter what, whereas in France we're immediately ready to complain or say no. Yeah you hear"no" a lot here, it's not possible we can't do that, it's not my job. And then the portions of the food it gets me every time I go home and like I get so used to my small portions in France and I go back and like I'll go to the movies you know with with friends and I'll have this giant bucket of popcorn that's literally like maybe ten times the size of my stomach I'm sure so the portions just you know shocked me every time I go out to eat. If you were to move back to the States what aspects of French life would you like to take with you? So there's three things I guess so for one the health care of course I think that's something that I just feel so at ease being in Paris and knowing that I don't have to worry about whether I choose between like paying my rent or paying for my health care. I do know that if I ever go back to the US and work there I will miss the the holidays I think I just I've gotten so used to having 38 days a year now and having time in the summer, time in the spring, time in the fall. The travel aspect as well I just I have more time to visit other countries and then finally the quality of the food I really like the food in France, it's such good quality and it's so diverse and just you know just the cheese alone. Okay so now that I've had the experience of you know being newly arrived and now I've gone through the school and education system and now work yes in the beginning I really tried to kind of conform to the norms here but at the end of the day you realize that you are who you are and I feel really blessed and really lucky to say that I do have some French friends it's nice that they accept me for who I am sometimes even want to speak English and rather than French and so it's nice that I have found some people that allow me to be completely myself. You don't have to become the typical Parisian woman, you will be able to find your niche and a group of people that accept you for who you are. That's cool, thank you so much for sharing that! Thank you for having me. What do you guys think? Are you American living in France? Have you visited? Have there been any sort of shocks about the sort of questions you were asked or maybe the perceptions? Let us know in the comments down below, we will be reading those and seeing what you guys have to say but until then we'll see you in the next video! A bientôt!