January 30, 2009

Protests and Strikes in France...

As an American expat, long time resident and soon to become FRENCH CITIZEN (a year and a half from now and counting)... I do agree that I have brought with me here to France, my "American mentality." Let me share with you readers-- WHEN I lived in America (40 years of my live) I prided myself for NOT being the "typical" American and NOT having the "typical" American mentality.
I have a very extended experience of overseas travel, even living abroad in New Zealand for a short period of time duirng my University years (I did a "work abroad" in New Zealand for three months and traveled through Australia for 2 1/2 months). I did this at age 19 and did it all by myself, too. I have been to all kinds of countries, rich and poor. I have seen a lot and experienced a lot.... So, I can really say that I don't have the "typical American mentality." What I do have is an American cultural heritage which inevitably causes me to see things here in France as VERY different to things in America.
Hey, it doesn't take ROCKET SCIENCE to figure that out.. Toto... We're not in Kansas anymore!!!!
I think the normal way of things when you move to any new country to live forever-- not just for a short visit-- is to go through the whole aspect of cultural integration if you are to adapt to the new culture... This might mean rejecting that new culture by thinking your former one was wonderful... even better and that you really do miss a lot of things from it.. DARE I SAY, baking supplies?!!! It's kind of like shedding our skin and putting on a new one... There are just so many things involved in adopting a new culture!  
Anyhow, I think that part of integrating into and adopting the new culture when you finally feel used to it, that you know what it's about and you can get along on a daily basis without much trouble (not counting things that pop up in life that are indeed troublesome- that happens EVERYWHERE).  
What I am finally getting at is that French culture has sooo much history to it and that there are so many things imbedded in the culture (that I had no prior knowledge before moving here)  that I really do rely on learning more and more each day about the daily things, the routine things, and the things that  lay under the surface at times from a number of different sources, one of them is David.
    Thanks to David, I learned a lot more about this thing called, "La grève," (Read the post here) and not just that it's an inconvenient thing that slows down or stops public transport and makes it very inconvenient to get around for many millions of people living in France.. 
Please stop by and visit David's blog, From The City of Lights, to learn at the strikes as well as many more things in French culture.


David said...

Thanks a lot for the nice post, I really appreciate.
When I started that blog, the goal was indeed to give an insight of everyday life in France from a French guy's perspective (even if I'm not your typical French guy as I've been quite Americanized over the years). Nowadays, I stray from that goal more often than not (and I also talk about very random stuff), but I'm goal it still serves its original purpose, once in a while.

But because I'm me, I have to nag you, despite the fact that you just devoted an entire post to me:
So what did you say towards the beginning of your post?
That you have trouble with getting cooking supplies? In France?
Cooking supplies... In France...
Please, tell me that I misunderstood. ;-)

Carolyn said...

Great description of integrating into a new culture, Leesa! Love the 'new skin' analogy - very true!

Cheers and I won't hold you to the oatmeal-PB-buttescotch cookies offer next trip ... but my shout (treat) for coffee at a proper Parisian café!

xxoo from Sydney

Notes from Noël said...

Great post! I also stopped by David's blog to gain a greater insight into the strike.

Leesa said...

AMD, David- you don't know me by now, then... Okay, I had to change cooking to baking... And when you are dealing with someone like me (Mrs. Leesa "Betty Crocker" G.) you have to understand that France does NOT compare in terms of the amount of choice for baking things-- I don't mean necessarily the food stuff- but indeed the actual utiles). Although France is "catching up" - there are just certain things that America "capitalizes" on and that is the many different kitchen stores and baking items-- go see surlatable.com, crateandbarrel.com, michaels.com, wilton.com to name a few and you will see what I mean. It's a bit hard to find a lot of items I took for granted in the U.S. and also if I find them here... they're high priced... about double or triple the price in the U.S. - and that's NOT necessarily because of the euro...
Hope you can understand that... but you also have to get into the mind of a baker...
You are very welcome for the post.. I do look up to you as a good resource here in France! Take care!

NFNOELLE.... Hey there... Glad you had a chance to check out David's blog... We're both better informed now...

Starman said...

I read David's insightful report of the manif. Also, this one from Avignon: http://avignon-in-photos.blogspot.com/

David said...

Leesa, I'm still a bit confused about you not finding what you're looking for to bake.
Unless you want really specific stuff for American-style cooking and baking, all the things I saw on those sites (of course, I haven't browsed them thoroughly) are really common in any supermarket that's big enough or in any cooking store.

And if you want stuff that's very specific to American recipes, well, it makes sense that you don't find it here, just like you won't easily find stuff that specifically French abroad (especially in America).

And seriously, why France should bother getting stuff for American recipes when we have French food and French pastries?

Nadege said...

I couldn't live without William Sonoma, Crate and barrel, Sur la table, bed bath and beyond, Target, Whole foods, Trader Joe's (with its choice of asian, Australian, European food...). I am sure they do have specialized stores in France but prices are probably very expensive compare to the US. But I can tell you that in the US, in any store, the people are always nice. No so in France. In the US if you tell them that you found an article cheaper at another store, they will match that price. You can return an item (with receipt and in respectable time), they will give you a refund or will exchange it. Not so in France or they will make a big deal out it. I miss France for its beauty but I love the US for the kindness of its people. In a way, the US is more "professional" and easy going, tolerant. I am reading blogs because I have been wondering if I should go back to live in France or stay here (I was born in France but is now a US citizen). Sometimes I wish I could afford to go back and forth often like rich people do. But frankly! those strikes? What a pain and so passe. Now days France reminds me of how Italy used to be 30 years ago. Walt and Ken seem very happy in Saint Aignan. Would they enjoy Italy or Spain more? Now Spain has been an up and coming country. Good for them! By the way I heard that the next darling of cuisine will be Indian food (it's about time). What do you miss the most about the US Leesa? You could ask your "habitues" that question and also what their pet peeve about France is.

Ron said...

Hi Leesa!

Beautifully expressed post!!

You've certainly traveled much more than I have, and LIVED in more places too, but for the amount of time that I've lived in certain places (such as Japan and Amsterdam for 2 1/2 months each), I know what you mean about the adjustment to certain things (especially TOILET PAPER....HAHAHAHAHA!)

I just read Nadege's comment about the US being so much more friendlier, kind and easy-going and I have to chuckle (not disrespectfully though), but only because I've found it completely the opposite. But maybe I haven't traveled as much as other people, because most foreigners who come here, say the same as Nadege.

I guess the grass always seems greener to me!?!

But I must say....Japan was MUCH more kinder than the US, hands down. I've never witnessed more kindness and respect in my entire life - it actually brought tears to my eyes. That's a country I could live in for a LONG period of time.

Anyway, that's a bummer about the strike, Leesa. We had one here in Pilly about two years ago and it was horrendous for those who used public transportation. Thankfully it only lasted a five days. And THANK GOD I can walk to work!

Great post, Leesa! Really enjoyed it!

Have a wonderful weekend, my friend!


Leigh said...

This is fantastic!! I hope to spend longer periods of time over there with my daughter and maybe live there as well someday:) Thank you for the useful information.