Some years ago I had the possibility to get some insights into the French culture. For starters I have to say that I needed to correct my perception of French people and French culture in a surprising way. The most unusual remark I heard at the very beginning, when a French person told me that German people enjoy life more. I would have been the first to contradict that being so critical about my fellow Germans. I had to learn a lesson…
France is a beautiful country with much to offer. It is easy to indulge in French countryside and food. I love the French language, which makes people sound tender and friendly.
I cherish the shabby chic of the little villages and the breathtaking views in the French Alps and at the Côte d’Azur. The contrast and the diversified variety make this country so precious.
Unfortunately it is not so easy to connect with French people. I made the experience that they are not really curious about other cultures, mind you people. They seem to prefer talking about themselves and their own country.
Is it our safety net to remain in our own culture? Is it really a reluctance to speak other languages or is it simply a lack of skill or confidence?
It seems as if in almost all areas of life, French people stay in France. They go on vacation in France, eat French food only, have a French word for everything and mostly only listen to French music…
What can we learn from each other?
Discipline and productivity seem virtues in both countries. Both countries seem to separate private from professional life strictly. Keeping tradition and focusing on family occurs to be more important in France than in Germany. Pleasure in France is about good food, but to be enjoyed mostly at home within the circle of the family. Conversations often involve “la crise”. Meals seem to follow strict rules of when to eat and drink what and if at the same time or not. A casual glass of bubbly for a Sunday morning brunch is almost considered frivolous. If a Brunch ever takes place! German people honor their families, but often the circle is extended to friends. We socialize not only at home but outside. We extend our traditions to our friends. The saying that German people work hard but party hard might not find acceptance among our French neighbors. Pleasure is justified after efforts but never before or at the same time. Who is right and who is wrong?
I perfectly agree with French habits when it comes down to appreciating good food. Germans need to realize that they have been manipulated by the ALDI brothers too much. Statistics show that French people spend a much higher percentage of their income on food. They take time to eat and enjoy precisely that moment. I think in this respect they are right to refuse to go the American way. But couldn’t it be a good idea to simply be a bit more easy-going?
And wouldn’t it be nice if we gave German music more credit? It goes without saying that we have some incredible song writers and singers who make the German language sound just as tender as French.
But I owe it to my country to pay homage…
It is great to feel that German people seem open to become less hierarchical. I appreciate that we tend to be progressive with our distant approach of “Du” and “Sie”. I like to see that we are generally critical, but at the same time we are curious about others. I am happy to be able to indulge in the variety of foreign food offered in each and every city.
“People from different countries see, interpret, and evaluate events differently, and consequently act upon them differently.”
Nobody needs to become another person when going to another country, but we need to be tolerant with each other and accept that misunderstandings can quickly occur. As long as we realize that they might result from different cultural backgrounds and socialization in a different environment we can meet each other with respect.