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Daily Differences Between the French and the Americans

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

I forgot what it's like to be alone. No, really, Mat and I practically eat, sleep, and breathe each other (please don't take that the wrong way). He was gone for the night yesterday, and as I did all the things I'd normally do alone, I realized how different him and I live, how different the French and Americans live.

When we were in a long distance relationship, or Skype relationship as I'd like to call it, we didn't have to work around our differences. They are merely cultural differences between our nationalities. We deal relatively well, but you'd be surprised how little things can actually have a huge impact on daily life.

The difference between French and Americans:

1. Sense of time
Yea I'll use the word sense because it's not real time. Mat goes by French time, I go by overly-anal- American-who-has-to-be-there-3-minutes-prior time. It drives me nuts. I'll give it to the French they are far more relaxed about being late, because 10 minutes late to them is actually on time. For someone with OCD like me I cannot handle this, so 9 times out of 10 when we have to be somewhere like oh say, THE AIRPORT, I'm freaking out and it turns into a little less than a domestic.
Château Margaux Oct. 2013
2. Being an Outfit-Repeater
Most Americans, like myself, are completely delusional as to what is clean and what is not. Mat, along with many Europeans, have no problem repeating outfits a few times before washing them, because rightfully...they're not dirty. But for whatever reason, it kind of makes me cringe to put the same outfit on twice. Often times I'll play Fashion Police and try to scold him, but really he's right on this one. Mat-1 Danielle-0.
Tampa, Florida Sept. 2012
3. The Use of Air Conditioning
Central air is just barely available here, due to the high cost. I come from a family of air conditioning abusers, and I'll be honest I'm completely spoiled on this one. However, I cannot sleep in the summer if I'm hot (first world problems I know). When he visited me in Florida he actually got sick from it because his body was not use to the constant change of temperature. It's the only reason I'm okay with going back home to N.J. this summer.
4. Eating
Of course. I'm not talking about food though, because quite frankly I enjoy having a baguette with my meals and a glass of wine. However, it's WHEN we eat that kills me sometimes. Last night when I was alone I ate at 6 p.m. as I would do at home, but here it's anywhere from 7:30-9p.m. and I end up snacking like a monster beforehand. I have no choice to comply because most times it's Mat who is cooking.
Nerds for Halloween 2013
5. Music Preferences
If we keep the radio on we're just fine, it's when we pick our own stuff that it's sometimes more complicated. We're both a little dorky. If he could jam-out to 1980's pop all day he would and I also have my middle school days where I'm blasting emo/alternative rock music, and he's thoroughly confused. No matter what Americans and the French did not grow up listening to the same music.
Notice the look of death he's giving me
6. Technology Abuse
Hi, my name is Danielle and I have a problem. My entire day could revolve around the computer and I'd be just fine (sad but true). Mat doesn't quite have this problem, and we end up fighting that I don't get off my phone. So it's become one of the reasons I leave it at home a lot now..it gives me the shakes a little. I think Americans have this problem worse than the French.
Picnicking at Bordeaux Lac
7. Nap Time
I'm too antsy for naps, he loves to nap. We all know a little siesta never hurt anybody, it does the body good actually. Unfortunately, my body is just not wired around them unless I'm absolutely exhausted. France has a 2p.m. - 4p.m. siesta time where almost nothing is open, it makes sense..but it's when I like to eat lunch.
Example: Using wine bottle as a rolling pin
9. Being resourceful
I get yelled at sometimes because I tend to waste things. It's completely by habit, but Mat would rather wash a plastic cup than throw it out. Same with paper towels..I clean with them, whereas his family consistently cleans with the sponge. You'll notice here that even grocery stores don't just hand out plastic bags like candy, you have to pay for it or bring your own. They're far more resourceful.
Rome, Italy Nov. 2013
My friend Kerri and I were discussing some of this today. I think most Americans who are living abroad could relate to at least half of these. I know when I return home though, I'm going to take some of it with me.. maybe rethink how much I need to use the air conditioning, stop being so neurotic about being 2 minutes late, relaxing a bit, using things more than once (including clothes). Oh and the wine with my meals, can't forget that :)


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