Magazine topic: 
Life around the world
Total votes: 88

Cultural differences

11
by : 
BlakeS

Thinking about my time in France, I noticed quite a few differences between the French and the English. While I was working at a French school, I was often in the staff room preparing my work. Sometimes I would hear the school secretary talking. At first I assumed she was talking to me, as there was no-one else in the room but me, so I tried to respond to her. However, I soon realised that in fact, she was talking to herself. I noticed a lot of people do this in France. In the UK, people might think you’re a bit strange if you talk to yourself at work, but over there it seemed quite normal. It really did confuse me at times, because I was never sure if people were talking to me or just talking to themselves!

Another area of confusion involved the French language. In French, there are two ways to say ‘you’: ‘tu’ is the informal form, while ‘vous’ is the formal form. This is an aspect of French which, even now, I do not really understand. When I learnt French, I was taught to call everyone vous unless they were my family or a friend. So I was surprised that virtually everyone in France used the informal tu all the time. School children used tu with their teachers and all the staff called the head teacher tu. Even strangers I met in the street would call me tu, and sometimes tu was written on street signs. But I continued to use vous because I didn’t want to people to think I was being impolite. To be honest, I’m thankful that in English we don’t have to worry about these things!

As you might know, school children in the UK traditionally wear a school uniform but in France pupils do not wear a uniform. It was a culture shock for me to see children wearing Spiderman T-shirts and baggy blue jeans while in the classroom. The final difference which struck me was the relaxed attitude at school. Teachers were never in a rush, and the children and teachers are given long breaks and lots of time to eat their lunch. This is a contrast to the UK, where the school day might seem highly pressured. I found the differences puzzling at times, but I cannot deny what a great opportunity it was to live and work in another country. The UK and France are only separated by a small channel of the sea, but there are many differences between the two cultures!

Discussion

What do visitors to your country usually find unusual or different? 

Comments

anias100's picture
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anias100 3 January, 2016 - 11:57

I'm interested in different cultures and I would like to see countries, which I've never seen. I would like to compare my culture- Poland and other culture.

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poppymoore's picture
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poppymoore 29 June, 2015 - 21:28

hmmm......visitors to my country find cows on streets,dogs on your doorstep,children eating spicy food,some women's with their head covered in all the seasons,our vast culture and diversity unusual

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Lavender's picture
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Lavender 26 June, 2015 - 18:35

I have a friend. Her brother in law is a Frence. Once when they had a meal together, and they loved the same dish, it was like she fought with him for the food. Not literally. But she had to eat more quickly before he ate all up! It's weird because we know someone fond of the same dish like us, we often let he or shoe eat more than ourselves.
The second thing she found it unusal was that they(brother in law and sister) kiss in front of parents. Because we are so shy to kiss even the simple one in front of people, especially never kiss in front of parents)

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Ken's picture
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Ken 27 June, 2015 - 09:48

Oh no! We don't have such a culture of a kiss in front of people!
( ˘ ³˘♥ We seldom see a couple holding hands in public apart from teenagers... !
Yeah, it's wiered that a French couple look like fighting while sharing (?) the same dish..??
Amour? Or more? ....,.

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Lavender's picture
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Lavender 2 July, 2015 - 10:44

It's normal here seeing couple holding hands. I find it cute! But kissing and hugging we seldom do it in public places.

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Ken's picture
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Ken 2 July, 2015 - 22:25

Well, I've understood your culture.
Your pic speaks for itself !
♡꒰*・ω・人・ω・*꒱♡

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Lavender's picture
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Lavender 10 July, 2015 - 09:09

Hello Ken. You made me laugh. Actually we are a couple of friends. We were really happy that day because it was a meet up after 2 years of us.

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BlakeS's picture
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BlakeS 24 June, 2015 - 09:52

Hi Ken. You're right, the only word for 'you' in English is... 'you'! I know many languages have lots of different words for 'you', depending on how polite you want to be. In English you can show politeness by changing your language, for example saying "I would like" instead of "I want" and also saying "please". I think it's a stereotype that British people are polite!

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Ken's picture
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Ken 23 June, 2015 - 15:14

Interesting points of views, thanks, BlakeS! As for tu and vous, strangely enough, I remembered Japanese language has more than 10 ways of expressing 'you' while English has one. (...Am I right?)
And I don't think it's unusual to see people around me talking to themselves... It seems to me the British people are very nice to others particularly in public. (Am I right?)
Among others, people say Japan is a cultural Galapagos and there are a lot of things that visitors will find unique!
☆♫ ٩( ´ᆺ`)۶♫ ★

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