Stereotypes, Sweets and Settling Into Life in France


Stereotype; (adjective) a generalization, usually exaggerated or over simplified, often offensive, used to distinguish a person or group. 

Isn’t it funny how stereotypes work? In Australia we have a stereotype that French people are rude and arrogant, and I can’t even begin to explain how far that is from the truth. They are actually one of most the polite cultures I’ve met. They all say hello and goodbye, good morning and good night, please and thank you, and when someone calls you from another room, they never reply with ‘what’, but with ‘oui?’ (Yes). The French also always greet each other with kisses (the typical French style with two kisses on the cheek) when at home a ‘sup nod’ would be an acceptable form of greeting in Perth. The kissing greeting forces you to introduce yourself properly and be polite, just like a formal hand shake would in Australia.


My host family thinks the stereotype comes from people who only visit Paris, France. The people there are always busy and people don’t smile. My host sister also told me the other night, when they saw my photos I’d sent through with my letter, they saw the cheerleading photos and my host family thought I was going to be ‘in love with myself’ because they have a stereotype in France that cheerleaders are up themselves, she laughed and said she was sorry they thought that about me as it couldn’t be further from the truth. This Teach in a Homestay experience has taught me every culture comes with a stereotype, however they really aren’t true. As the saying goes, ‘to travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.’

The start of week the French celebrated Bastille Day. It is a public holiday in France, which I celebrated with my host family by watching the march in the morning, and then going up to the highest point in France, (I’m not joking, we were so high up my phone thought I’d entered the United Kingdom) and then that night we tried a new restaurant and then watched the fireworks.

France has 13 regions (our equivalent of a state) and from Wednesday to Sunday my host mum and sister had to travel to a different region called Auvergne to work at a go-kart event, which my host mum’s brother owns. Along the way we stopped for lunch in the region called Centre, so I could see a new region of France. While we were here, we came across a soft serve ice creamery, with the ice cream being authentic fresh Italian ice cream. It was the best ice cream I’ve ever had, who needs to travel to eat Italian food when it’s imported here anyway?

France-Italian ice cream

We are currently staying in a small country town in a big house with 15 other family members. The French country is so beautiful, the sky is so clear and during the day you can always hear birds chirping. While my family works at the race I have been exploring this cute and peaceful little town with my host mum’s sister, or helping to work when I can. The company they are working for is called ‘kart mag’ which the symbol is a big K. My host mum was wearing the shirt with the big ‘K’ on the front in a superman sign, so I made a joke and said it stood for ‘Super Karine’ which I’ve now been calling her. She then came up with a nickname for me ‘small bird’ because she doesn’t think I eat a lot! (Which is a good thing I guess!)



This week I also discovered how good French desserts were. A typical French desert here is called café gourmand, which is a dessert that comes with a coffee and a few little desserts from the dessert menu, which is great if you can’t decide! I’ve also tried French biscuits, which are amazing.


This week did feel pretty lonely as other family members didn’t speak any English. At family dinners, I felt a lot like the girlfriend who had gone along to a boys night, I kind of felt like I was intruding at times. I had no idea what the conversations were about as they were all in French, too. I did understand the feeling of being home sick this week, but now-a- days it’s so easy to connect with my friends and family at home, whether it be Facebook or Skype or email it’s so easy to connect, so I found English conversation was never far. I was still happy to be there though, and to see a new region, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the last few weeks with my host family will bring.


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