Thursday, March 27, 2008

Questions about meeting French people

1. Realistically how easy is it to make friends in class?
2. What are the best school activities for meeting people?
3. What are some cultural things to be aware of before talking to a French person, like little things that might really throw them off even though I might not be at all aware that I am doing them?
4. Are there certain places in town that are good for meeting people? Where do most students hang out?
5. In general, how have you found the French students to be in Aix? Are they friendly, more distant, etc?


Nicole said...

1) Really hard. And this doesn't just include class. You've got to be the most outgoing person in the world to really make friends with them - but it can be done. Most of my French friends, I've met through other people.

2) Class. I don't think they do study groups, they don't really have clubs associated with the school (although there are clubs, and those would be good for meeting people), and you're going to feel incredibly awkward going up to someone standing outside smoking a cigarette to engage them in conversation. So I say class, whether it's beforehand or during, but you're going to have to make the effort. I can almost guarantee that you'll have other program kids in your classes, and those will be the ones you'll gravitate toward.

3) Bises!! We have a friend with a French boyfriend, and even though we tried to teach him the head-nod, he was still incredibly offended that we didn't always faire les bises with him. So try to remember that, especially - and good friends will bises when they get you and when they leave. It is true to always say bonjour when you enter a shop and to throw out an au revoir to the wind when you leave - it makes a bigger difference than you'd think. This is a harder question to answer because they're going to KNOW that you're foreign the second you open your mouth, and they're either going to forgive your little mistakes, or they're going to badger you about Bush (I've been attacked while attempting to dance at a club...).

4) The French woman who taught our intensive course at the beginning of the year told us to establish "our cafe" - that is, pick one, go often, always try to sit in the same spot, and you'll notice that you're almost always surrounded by the same people. And eventually they'll warm to your presence and talk to you. There really aren't "hang out spots". Cafes, parc jourdan, people's rooms/houses...

5) The French students are not as friendly as the foreign students. That doesn't mean that they're completely rude, but they are a bit more distant and unapproachable. But if you've got a question, they will bend over backwards trying to help you out.

Liz Dushaw said...

1.) its hard. VERY HARD. I never met any french friends through school. Only through going to bars and my sally and geralidine lived with a french girl that studied at mich.

2.) I heard 'le cave' is pretty good. I never really met any french french people. Mostly foreign people whom our common language was french.

3.)french girls are standoffish. It takes awhile to be friends with them. I recommend you read 'Almost french' a book by this woman who moved to paris. This book is interesting as a book as well can prepare you for cultural differences.

4.) Le cave, o'shannons bar, all bars. IPN, Students in Aix internet cafe. (mostly anglophones though)

5.)Distant. the foreign students are so nice though. From my year there I understood that the french are nice, its just in their culture to be distant to people they dont know.