Today I am sharing my experience as an exchange student in France, which was a nightmare.
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1 – Bigotry is not biased against one’s nationality. You can find them everywhere. However, knowing about ethnocentrism and experiencing it are two different things. In my mind I knew it might be a problem. I didn’t think it was going to be a problem on a daily basis.
2 – It isn’t all Sunshine and rainbow. There are times that I thought very dark thoughts about France, which was very abnormal for me. When I talked to others about it, I was told that it wasn’t normal, and that I wasn’t trying or focusing on the positive.
Fact is studying/living abroad is difficult. There will be times you love it, and there will be times where you hate it. Hating your host country is normal and anyone who tells you differently is talking out of their butt.
3 – I’m biased when it comes to French schools since I only attended 1 high school, and I thought it was horrible.
My teachers regularly started class by telling us we were lazy, stupid and nothing. I’ve talked about this with other French people and have learned that unfortunately this is a norm in French school. I also understand that the school system is meant to weed out weakness. However, from my perspective what the teachers are doing is mental and emotional abuse since as far as I know all scientific studies have shown negative reinforcement doesn’t work.
My teachers weren’t teachers, they were public speakers. They refused to answer questions or explain anything because they had a lesson plan to get through. Every French student I knew had a tutor. Which made no sense to me. Since students were paid to teach younger students and the teachers got paid to do nothing.
My school also offered zero support with anything no matter what the problem. I had some student bothering me, and not their problem. Our French lit teach came to school drunk, and not their problem. She stopped coming and it took them a trimester to replace her.
4 – Language. I had 3 years of French, which proved useless since the French I learned and what was spoken was different. E.G. “ne” is often dropped and words are shortened to the point of being unrecognizable. This can be an issue no matter what language you know.
I never learned about the Literary tenses, because they “aren’t used often in French” which is the biggest lie ever! All my text books used them, and if you wrote essays you were supposed to use them.
I asked my teachers if could write in the passe compose instead, and they just told me not to bother with the homework and test. Even though I did them they wouldn’t grade them.
Unfortunately, older French people are particular about their language. It isn’t just against foreigners, it is against other French people as well. I had very few issues with people my own age. They were more than willing to speak slowly and say all the letters, they’d correct my French work books and explain why. I never had that with adults. Their response was I had no business in France because I didn’t already know the culture or language.
5 – France is a big place. While I meet a lot of tools on my first trip to France. I knew there were good people. My host family for example are the greatest and kindest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. They welcomed me into their home and treated me like I was their own daughter. To this day they are still Mama and Papa and are now Meme and Pepe to my children.
However, that year was overshadowed by all the horrible people.
6 – This isn’t a French problem this is a person problem. I am not sharing this to Bash France. I went back to France, and the second time was completely different. I lived there for 10 years, and it became my home.
However, there is a difference between being a citizen and foreigner. It doesn’t matter where you go, this will exist. Perhaps it won’t be as bad in one place than in others, but it is still there.
If after all this I have offended you, then I am probably talking about you, and you are the problem.
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