Quimper lay in the westernmost point of France, near by the sea and it took 14 hours with the bus to get there. In the bus we did a lot of things, sleeping, eating, reading a book, watching a movie, eating, listening to music, talking to each other and more eating. If our teachers didn’t warn us about the food in France that was waiting for us, we would be so full of all the food we ate in the bus (what the bus driver wasn’t so happy about) that we couldn’t eat our diner.
Surprisely, in France it is normal to make like a 3-course dinner to welcome someone, but we would never do that in the Netherlands. There you have the chance that we let you eat mashed potato stew, which is made of potatoes and vegetables, a Dutch court.
After 14 hours in the bus, we arrived in Quimper, which was a beautiful city. It was a lot bigger than I thought and it was a old city with a cathedral, fairytale looking houses and clear rivers surrounded it. It was built up a hill, what is very new for us, because the Netherlands is as flat as you can imagine (only in the south a couple of pathetic little hills). The French sun was shining and I was immediately in love with this city.
French speaking wasn’t so hard as I thought it would be. I imagined myself, saying nothing for a week, because I was afraid I made mistakes. Of course I made mistakes, a lot of mistakes, but no one was making fun of me, so I dared to try and try and try again until I’ll would get it right. The hardest thing to ask was, where I could find the bicycle pump, we never learned that word in class, but the French people were really helpful.
On Monday and Tuesday in the morning we had followed a few lessons at Likès (the school of the French exchange students). Now you think, how can it be different ? In the end, you have to know the same. But there were many things that surprised me.
1. The French students have a lot more respect for the teacher. If a teacher comes in and say good morning, the students say good morning back. No one was checking their phones of was doing / learning another subject while the teacher was talking and the student are not silent (therefore we are children after all), but as noisy as we are normally in the Netherlands.
2. For me, the school felt more like a prison, because of the fences around the school. Here in the Netherlands, the fences are always open when the school is open, so you can go to the city and come back whenever you like ( I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but it gives me the feeling of freedom). In France, the fences were closed maybe locked, I don’t know, but it gave me the feeling that is was not the intention that you went off of the school grounds.
3. Lunch is quite a big deal in France. I knew that they eat a whole course at noon, but I thought that it wouldn’t be much. I remembered form the time that the French students were in the Netherlands and we ate pancakes with everyone and so many French student couldn’t ‘t eat their whole pancakes, because it was so much, so when I arrived in the canteen, which was beautiful, because it was a old church, I was surprised of the amount of food. But I was a little more surprised of so many people didn’t eat all the food they picked. Also lunchtime was longer than in the Netherlands.
4. You could sleep at the school if you live far away from school. When I heard that this was a possibility ( which is in the Netherlands not) I thought of a boarding school (which we don’t have here either) and so I was confused. They had to explain it to me like 3 times before I got it...
5. All the students take the bus to school or the father/mother drives them. No cycling through every kind of wether what we forced to do by our parents. And of course, many of the students live further away than we do, but because we don’t know better, we thinks the whole world cycle to school, hills or no hills.
6. The students are really early at school ( or was that only that week, to give us a good impression of them ?). Normally when I arrived at school, I have like 5 minutes to hang up my jacket and find the right room, but in France we had 45 minutes to walk to school, what was 5 minutes of walking, and talking to friends. I would never do that, i have already trouble with coming out of my bed and being on time.
In one on these lessons we were all together, Dutch en French exchange students, and we spoke about the differences between our countries, politics, environment, education, etc... I talked with three other students about gender. In the Netherlands we have a GayStraightAlliance (GSA) at our school. The GSA comes up for the rights of all the kinds of people to be whoever they want to be. We talked about the rights of the women, what is kind of the same in both countries, but we agreed that women have to be paid as much as men get paid for the same job and that women also have to have all the opportunities no matter they are a woman. Another problem we discussed was the tolerance of the homosexuals and this is a difficult problem. Yes, of course it’s legal to marry someone of your owe sex, but how many people nearby you are against it ? In both countries are the most really religious people against it, it’s a lot better than 10 years ago and it’s getting better. Only we agreed that in the Netherlands, there is more tolerance about it than in France, but France is on the right path.
Another problem Europe is dealing with today is the tolerance of the immigrants. Racism is a problem both countries is dealing with and the only solution is to talk to each other and have respect for the other’s culture. That was something Aïda said to me. Aïda is a lovely Christian woman from Senegal, who lived in Quimper now for 13 years. We met her in the mosque we were visiting. There were six women who wanted to tell us their story about moving to France, adapting to the French culture en how they feel about racism. Aïda came here because her husband was a football player and had to live in France so he could train there. Aïda is a cook and gives a lot of workshops about cooking around the world. One time she invited a group of women of all different cultures to talk about de differences of their culture and to respect that. Aïda thinks that racism is caused by ignorance of other cultures. When you learn about the beauty of the culture not only the bad things you hear from other people, you can admire or respect the culture and when you respect the culture, you have no reason to be afraid of that culture and don’t have to mean to them who lives in that culture. And when you see people around you changing their opinion, there is a change you can listen to them and maybe change your opinion too...
I have learned a lot about the culture of France this week, for example they kiss everybody on the cheeks 3 times, but not say what their name is, eating is everything for a Frenchman and they take all their time for it and that when you say that you can speak a little bit French, they will talk as fast as normal... and so much more.
I really liked to see that a country you thought was the same as your country, is not at all, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn‘t feel like home after a week. I am really glad that I had the opportunity to see and learn all this and so much more and try new things like eating langoustines and speaking French without the help of a teacher...
Publié le : lundi 30 mai 2016
une création : www.studioentete.com