I spent a summer in France, and it was a love story; one laden with an enchanted sense of curiosity and laced with subtle moments of clarity of how life is being lived more fully across the pond from the country I call home.
I’ve been casually obsessed with the Francophone culture since I was in high school. Where my intense interest sprung from, I do not know, but that didn’t stop me from adorning my room in French country chic decor and promising myself that somehow, some way, I would one day live in France.
Well, that dream began to unfold when I met a Frenchman while living in South Korea. We soon fell in love, and the Korean Peninsula became our playground: eating our way through bibimbap restaurants and exploring the bustling fish markets of Busan.
But as soon as it began, my boyfriend had to leave to go back home. He took up an internship in the capital city of France and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: spend a summer with him in Paris.
Those three months were ones for the books. I felt the magic that was so often described in stories about the city of lights. But I quickly realized that while Paris taught me adoration, not only for my lover and for the beauty of a city built with such architectural grandiose, but also a lot about life in general.
Movement Should Be Enjoyed
People in America fret about working out. They guilt themselves into getting their asses to the gym and feel like a failure if they’re not there at least four times a week.
The French, on the other hand, move because they want to be healthy. They want to enjoy life with all their body’s mobility included. The French don’t equate the food they eat to how much self-induced pain they have to endure at the gym. And, with that being said, most of them choose movement like running or sports over an actual gym.
Always Sit Down To Eat
Eating while you’re walking to work is simply not a thing in France. And the thought of consuming your lunch while driving somewhere is absolutely ludicrous.
Instead, the French take their time to sit down and savor their meals. That’s why cafes are lined with outdoor tables and ample seats for the French to enjoy their long lunch breaks.
Soccer Is For Everyone, Not Just Those Who Like It
One of my favorite parts of the French culture is how everyone comes together for one event: soccer. No matter your preference in the sport, everyone loves to sit down and be a spectator. Whenever a game is on, you’d see the local pubs stuffed with every kind of person, no matter their age, enjoying the match.
Even though football is prevalent here in the United States — also taking our national sport of baseball into account — nothing compares to the comradery that just magically happens between two people at a bar in France that are watching a soccer game.
Speak Your Mind
I was in France for a whopping three months, and during that time, I witnessed at least three strikes and was well-aware of several others going on with the railway and postal workers.
If the French think something is unfair, they will speak their minds. There’s no beating around the bush. And what’s better is that people encourage this kind of expression. In fact, the government allows its workers to be able to go on strike, the worker’s jobs never being at risk.
French Guys Are A Lot Less Skeevy
If a single guy in America goes out on the town, he’s probably hoping he’s going to get laid. It’s like the moment they see a good looking girl, he’s ready to pounce — unoriginal pick-up line and who knows what kind of intentions in hand.
But in France, guys go out to a bar to hang out with their friends. When they go out to a party to.. you guessed it, they choose to have a good time with their friends over wasting the night away to pursue a one-night stand. They’re not going to spend their time seeing friends by hoping that their advances on unsuspecting women will land them a warm body next to them in bed.
Americans Complicate Relationships
Along with my ex-French lover, I also dated a British guy. And when it came to the relationship, I noticed something similar that I later realized is common amongst non-Americans: they didn’t explicitly talk about the status of our relationship.
There was no.. will you be my girlfriend? No.. but what are we? We simply were. And at whatever point we decided to start calling one another “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” was our own choice to make.
And all of the.. Well, we’re sort of dating but not exclusively except that we’re on a break but not seeing other people.. is complication the French roll their eyes at.
Eat From A Place of Love
I have a lot of credit to give to France in terms of my recovery from disordered eating behaviors. It was the first place that I had lived that genuinely adored their food. And yes, not enjoyed, adored.
The French eat with a sense of love for what is going in their mouths. Food is deeply rooted in their culture and forgoing the taste of their delicious delicacies for a fad diet doesn’t exist. It took me a while to come to terms with this — having had diet culture so deeply ingrained in my psyche.
The way the French even speak of food is really something to admire. I now view food as a pleasure rather than sin because of this.