les Français contre les Américains

So there's obviously a reason that Americans and the French don't quite click right away and we get these stereotypes of the French being cold and Americans being obnoxious. And, of course, it all starts with the typical American mom and the typical French mom.

Picture an American mom going to the park with her child, she's probably wearing her yoga pants and lulu lemon jacket, while her baby is wearing bright colors (obviously never black or grey, why would you put depressing colors on a happy baby?). The stroller has the newest, greatest safety mechanisms with a 5 point seat belt for the child so he doesn't bounce around too much when the stroller hits cracks in the pavement, as well as lots of things the baby can play with and spots for mom to put her Starbucks. They get to the park, she takes him out of the stroller and says things like "we're here! oh we are going to have so much fun! you can play over there and over there and over there and just have fun! I'll be watching you and taking pictures for daddy!" So the child starts playing and after a little while he falls and comes back crying to his mom, who immediately says something like "oh sweetie it'll be ok!" and magically kisses the pain away, then sends the child back out to play because they have to leave on a 'good note' - he has to be having fun when they leave, they can't leave when he's upset over falling.

So now let's look at the French mom. She's pushing a stroller, potentially smoking, wearing normal clothes for women - aka has gotten back into her skinny jeans and is wearing an outfit to compliment the fact that she is a woman. When a French woman becomes a mother, she still remains a woman, while when an American woman becomes a mom, she has to become Supermom! and loses the sexy side of her womanhood.

So anyway, she's dressed well, maybe a little sexy, and her child is wearing an outfit - not necessarily conducive to running and jumping and playing like American clothing for children is. When they get to the park, the mom undoes the seat belt (which was just for show anyway) and says to the child, "we're here. You can play there but not there, over there is for kids bigger than you and you will fall if you play there. I will be here watching you." (note: watching them to make sure they don't do something wrong, not watching taking pictures for daddy or grandma.) So the kid plays and goes over to the big kid area and falls. When he comes back to mom crying, she says something along the lines of, "mom was right, huh?" or "I told you so" and waits for acknowledgement from the child that she, obviously, knew best. After that has been established she will take care of cleaning/bandaging whatever needs to be done. If the child keeps crying and making a scene, she will first make him sit and calm down. If that doesn't work, they go home because it is entirely inappropriate for the child to be crying in public.

In France, children bend to the adults' world. In America, adults bend to children's needs. (AKA toys for kids to play with in stores/restaurants, it being inappropriate for a salesperson or waiter to ask a customer to leave because of the noise their child is making, etc.)

So based on these childhoods, they compare Americans to peaches

& French to coconuts

Americans always feel the pressure to be outgoing, outwardly happy, welcoming, and always having fun, whereas the French are more reserved and tell it like it is. e.g. France has excellent customer service - for the French. They don't want a waitperson to come over all "Hello!! My name is Meghan and I'll be taking care of you tonight. Our specials are...... and I really love the ......... and please let me know if I can help you in any way!!" They want them to simply take the order, bring the food, and leave until the check needs to be paid. They would hate that person returning every 5 minutes to make sure they are doing absolutely A-O.K.

Americans tend to have a lot of surface friends; we meet people and within 5 minutes of talking add them on facebook and like their statuses, but we have very few close, close friends. We find it easy to communicate with people on the surface level (like how a peach is soft on the outside), but find it difficult to talk about personal matters and get emotionally close to people.

The French have very few surface friends. Because they are colder and more reserved on the outside, they find no enjoyment in hanging out with lots of people they don't know well, whereas once they do become friends with someone, they are friends for life - you know, because they're all soft and milky on the inside.

One final distinction is the fact that the French have a little 'm' and a big "M" looking out for them - their biological family(/mother), as well as the government. Because the French government is so involved in its people's lives, the French feel much more secure with maybe not getting a job right after school and moving home with the parents instead - hell they don't have $100,000 of student loans to pay off so why not? There is not at all the same stigma here about losing a job or moving back in with the family, they don't always have to be moving forward and achieving things in their career to feel content and successful.

So yeah, this is totally not as well explained as it was to me but maybe this will help you as it did me in understanding the French and why peaches and coconuts don't always brush up against each other without some bumps & bruises..



So this whole week we have been going through orientation, which for us early-starters has seriously been a week long review of an orientation we had in 1 day, so it hasn't been too eventful. However, today we had a bus tour around the tourist sites of Paris and I (of course without my camera) got these snapshots with my iphone:


Mon anniversaire, rock en seine, et 'La mécanique des dessous, une histoire indiscrète de la silhouette'

Alors. After my post on Thursday I went on a wonderful champagne tasting cruise along the seine departing from the eiffel tower, thanks to Forrest: the best boyfriend ever. The champagne was amazing, obviously the views were spectacular, and I met this wonderful couple to enjoy the experience with - and get some tips about where to visit outside of Paris.

first glass!

our champagne expert - who was actually sweedish & came to france to study wine!

the love bridge! lovers place locks along the sides.



So I know it's been a couple of days, but you have to forgive me because today is my birthday! (even if it doesn't feel like it because I'm in Paris living a dream world anyway...) My birthday present? Finals! We had our summer term final exam aujourd'hui, but I'm trying to forget about it. In an hour and a half or so I'm off to go on a river boat champagne tasting cruise on the Seine (qui commencera en face de la tour eiffel) which I have to imagine is going to be wonderful. Thanks Forrest! Then tonight we're, of course, going back out to Oberkampf for some drinks & birthday celebrations!

Yesterday we had a day-long scavenger hunt that brought us to all of Paris's fun, big, important monuments (and slightly made me realize why the french hate them so much & think they're obnoxious). Although cruising along the seine was a nice way to go about Paris, I am a firm believer that scavenger hunts ruin the fun of seeing and enjoying things - not that we won't be returning, but of course I didn't want to stop and take lots of wonderful pictures of le louvre or go inside notre dame because we just had to get to the next stop of the scavenger hunt! That being said, here are some snapshots I did take:



Not much has happened to me over yesterday and today, except maybe the copious amount of bread and brie that I'm eating - but I seriously think I'm walking enough that I may still even lose weight despite eating extremely carby-cheesy-yummy french food. And if not, hey - I'm abroad in Paris, if I have one excuse to gain bread weight, it's that.

So yesterday we went to this crazy flee market (didn't see any flees!) with some great vintage collections. None of us got much other than these wonderful old old old post cards we found for 1euro apiece - some written on so full you can't see blank space, some with a few words, and some totally blank. I chose to get some blank ones so that I can write and send them. (in envelopes anyway because they're so fragile, but still.)


Last night we stopped at a couple bars and I had a couple excellent gin tonics - aka gin and tonics, super original, right? They were good, it was fun, all good.

Today has been a pretty slow day, nothing much to report other than homework getting done, would have loved to shop around but most french shops are closed on Sundays.

au revoir!
xx taylor



Not much really happened yesterday - which I suppose is why I totally forgot to write a post before going to bed! In intermediate french conversation we had to give presentations about a french song, the artist, etc. so we didn't go to any interesting tourist destinations. (which was actually a welcome break!) Here is the song I chose to present, the artist is actually from Quebec, but she is popular over here as well.

After class we came back to the studio for a while, but returned to a bar/restaurant we had visited a few days ago called Place Verte on Rue Oberkampf for dinner - and it was awesome! It boasts one of the best burgers in Paris, which the girls said was definitely true, but even my vegetarian salad with eggplant, pepper, sundried tomato, arugula, pesto, green beans, and some time of tasty slaw was delicious. I definitely recommend it, awesome location, very sweet waitstaff, totally great - just look at my food! (& sangria... & burger in the background)

I have absolutely no idea where this stereotype of French service people being rude comes from - literally all of them have been very very sweet to us.

à bientôt,
xx taylor


centre national d'art et de culture georges-pompidou

So last night after my last blog post we went out for drinks on oberkampf (a street) and thoroughly enjoyed it! The food looked uh-mazing as well, so we will absolutely need to go back for that - though we saw a couple mice... assuming that's relatively normal in Paris?

Today we had the day off from school for some french bank holiday. (is it terrible I don't know what it is?) We slept in, went out to lunch, and went to the pompidou! Despite spending a few hours there, I definitely want to return allowing more time and maybe even get the audio guide to actually learn about what I'm seeing. I can definitely say that I saw too many Picassos to count! As much as I'm excited to see the classics, I'll always be a modern art fan, so I very much enjoyed it & I hope you enjoy these!

xx taylor


une chasse au trésor qui a mal tourné

So for the second portion of class today we had a scavenger hunt in montmartre. But not really like a cute, fun, site-seeing scavenger hunt - a super long, impossible-to-complete-in-two-hours scavenger hunt. But seriously. I got some great views and pictures, but the visit was pretty tarnished with trying to find the answers to decently obscure questions that no one we asked was able or willing to help us with and eventually giving up less than half way through and 2 hours later.

On the bright side, that area of the city is absolutely beautiful (especially, obviously, La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre). Though because it was totally bustling with tourists, I'm excited to return during the later months of my visit when it will be much calmer and easier to navigate.


Martin Karplus

Alors, today was un autre day of class (duh), but this afternoon pour classe we went to the Bibliothèque nationale François Mitterrand to see work by Martin Karplus - one of the few people taking pictures in color during the '50s and early '60s around the world. Born in Austria in 1930, he moved to the United States when he was 8 years old. Though chemical biology was his career, color photography was his greatest passion, and after visiting the exhibit I can conclude he was pretty good at it.

However, on our way there we totally took a wrong turn that lead us 10 or 20 minutes astray, then got out of the wrong side of the metro which took us way further from the library than necessary, crossed a construction site, and finally found our professor who must have been waiting for us for at least 30 minutes.

Though I don't believe I'll be returning to the National Library of France anytime soon after the traumatic experience, lengthy subway trip, and pretty gross location (in the 13 arrondissment, a more modern area of France with the business district and actual tall buildings, unlike those with a max of 6 stories in le marais), it was interesting to see. It is home to The Globes of Louis XIV by Coronelli, which are actually amazing for having been crafted in the 17th century, and super interesting because they hadn't quite accurately mapped America yet, so California is it's own island (and other oddities). Click through here to see pictures because I totally forgot to take some.

So anyway, enjoy these snapshots of les snapshots de Karplus.

xx taylor


un jour de la marche

Today was my second day of classes - with 9:30-12:30 being straight French and 1:30-3:30 being a visit to somewhere french and presentations by us of different quartiers and places. Today though, we had normal class until 12:30 then we went to rue des rosiers, got some wonderful fallafel at L'As du Fallafel. But it was like like actually pretty amazing, totally lived up to the hype.

Long story short we saw lots of beautiful things, talked about them in French, and basically walked for 3 hours. If I could remember any of the monuments, parks, or courtyards, I would totally fill you in, but I absolutely cannot so I'll have to return. (oh shucks, huh?)

For the first time I totally got around, all alone, and only used my map to reassure me of what I already knew. Totally stoked on that.

ps. also finally got a french sim card for my phone - yay!

bonne journee!
xx taylor