(^ Monmarte, Paris)
I love the European way of life. It is so different from the United States. As an au pair, I lucked out with a great host family. They are so nice and try to make me happy. The girls are adorable and well behaved for the most part. They can be balls of energy at times which can be exhausting, but I always take them to parks and have them do sprinting games. They love it and think it’s so fun!
(On the way to the park 🙂 )
I really do love Rouen. It is such a beautiful city, and there is so much to do here! There is great shopping, great night life, and great attractions. I go running along the seine 4-5 days a week. That is the river that leads into Paris. it is very pretty.
Communicating is quite challenging. I only have a beginner level of French, but I am getting better. Paris is practically a bilingual city so I have no problem there. Rouen is purely French! If I am going somewhere specific I will write down what I have to say and try to memorize it. Some people know English, but I rarely find someone who is fluent in Rouen. However, at some bars in town I was surprised how many people could get by in English. So that was nice. and I can do the common greetings and understand the basics.
( I attempted to read this on the train ride back from Paris… Let’s just say I did not get very far! )
I start french classes next week. I am really excited because i will meet other au pairs and students. I know a lot of au pairs in the Paris area and have already met up with some. I have yet to find any au pairs in Rouen though. The classes will definitely make it easier to have local friends because right now all my friends are about an hour away.
Hmm…. some peculiar things I noticed about the french (strictly my own observations and experiences. this is not generalizing all of France)…
They don’t work as many hours, and they take long lunch breaks. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner have multiple courses. Salad is served AFTER the main course, which I find really weird. I go to the boulangerie (bakery) every day to buy fresh baguettes. When my host family wants meat they go to the boucherie (butcher shop). Everything is walking distance where I live. Everything is cobblestone. Dogs are allowed EVERYWHERE, even in some restaurants. I was in a shoe store and a huge boxer was hanging out next to me. I have to bring my dog here because she would flourish!
( Macarons are everywhere in France… Heaven in a box<3 )
Barely anything is open on sundays. There are a few restaurants, but they are typically open for shorter hours. Some morning markets can be found open as well. In general places open later and close earlier around here (Rouen). Shops typically open around 9 or 10 in the morning and close around 6 or 7 in the evening.
Kids go to school 4 days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) Wednesdays they have off. I wish it was like that in America. There are no screens on windows at all. Even in the newer apartment buildings there are no screens. They do not use napkins. I ate rabbit last week. That was interesting. I felt like I was eating someones pet. From what I have seen so far, the French pretty much do not have MILK here. they drink some sort of cream similar to milk. i cannot describe it. It is not even refrigerated when you buy it. Once you open it you put it in the fridge. My host family has it with their cereal. I do not like it so I pour the smallest amount in and then dilute it with water. It tastes more like a skim milk that way. The girls think i am weird for doing that. They don’t have peanut butter. The butter is very rich and also saltier. Supermarkets are weird. The French go there for things like pasta, cereal, cookies, eggs, milk, and like toiletries and soap. i even have a hard time finding pasta sauce. but if you want meat, fish, bread they go to the specialty shops. these things are sold at supermarkets, but it’s to a minimum. The French prefer quality over quantity.
I rarely hear french music. It is always American music playing in stores and bars. I find this strange but not surprising. I guess this might explain why so many people around the world know English. America really is huge when it comes to media and commercialism, especially in the entertainment industry. All our movies are advertised over here (in french of course), but i have yet to find many French movies or songs.
(A friendly French guy. Free Hugs? Yes!)
The French are not rude. From my experience, they seem to love Americans. They are very very helpful to strangers. They are also more stylish than Americans. You don’t see anyone walking around looking like they are on their way to Walmart.
Overall, I have to say my experience in France has been amazing so far, and hopefully it will continue to get better. This opportunity is such an eye opening experience into another culture. Every day I learn something new. I am fascinated by the French way of life, and I cannot wait to explore as much of it as I can this year 🙂