Monday, July 10, 2006

In France, Missing Germany

I spent the weekend in France...alone. My boyfriend was supposed to come too, but at the last minute couldn't. This is something I am sure most military wives and girlfriends are used to, but I am just getting introduced to the last minute rug pull.

So I had a mini pity party and then left.

And I have to admit, it truly does suck to go to a wedding on your own, especially if you don't know most of the people there. I knew the groom's immediate family, but that was about it. But if you look at the pictures in the following post, you can see all was not lost.

However, I learned something this weekend: when in France, and someone asks you, which country you like better, Germany or France, don't be as brutally honest as you are in Germany. I think the answer should be pretty evident to the asker, seeing as I lived in France 2 years, and in Germany 9 ½, but nevertheless they still ask.

So I answered Germany.

Why, she asked. And I think I literally saw the blood drain from her face when I said that
France was an xenophobic, racist country, full of snobs who thought they knew better than the rest of the world. And in Germany no one had ever said to me, that I was intelligent for an American. Also, that the riots in the French suburbs a few months ago had really shocked me. When you look at France's national soccer team, you would think it was the United Nations playing, but France itself is ultra-segregated along class and race lines. America, in comparison, and even Germany, is an equal society. I mean, the Front National (a pretty right extremist party) got 20% of the vote last elections.

I realized I had gone too far when she snipped, “well, I love France.” I hadn't meant to be so rude, but I guess all my resentment was coming to the surface, and I forget where I was.

A little later, a woman was talking with me, and said: “We French still can't understand why Bush was re-elected.” I was in my biting tongue mode then, but so wanted to say: can't you guys just get over that? I mean, it was almost 2 years ago now.

What was truly quite strange, was that this trip to France really showed me how German I have become. Germany is like the anti-France. French are delicate, and they generally have great taste in wine, food and clothes. But they drive this pathetically tiny cars, that are sooo old and repulsive with their black exhaust. And when on the freeway, they don't observe the overtaking on the left rule (they don't in the states either, but at least there are like 5 lanes in the states, so it doesn't matter). I was so glad to get back to Germany, where people are a little more natural, less snobby about things, and who follow the rules on the highway...oh and not to mention, where the highways rarely have speed limits.

I actually felt such happiness when I crossed the border back into Germany. It made me realize how much of this country I have in my heart now, it will always be a part of me, and I will always be comparing other countries to it, along with the US.


Blogger Nicole said...

That's funny...I don't know much about France (I've only been there once) but I had to laugh at your mention of the "honesty" of Germans. I sometimes miss that simplicity...where you can speak your mind, without having to tip-toe...

4:23 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

First of all - what a bummer that your boyfriend had to pull out at the last minute. *sigh* I know it happens, but it would have been a much nicer weekend for both of you if he could have been there.

As for "telling it like it is" to someone in France. Isn't it interesting that they feel they can say anything they want to you, but if you respond in kind (in other words express your opinion) they make you feel like a heel. I hate people like that - it's an insidious nastiness that the left uses continually. They tend to be shocked at so much, yet that never stops them from running off at the mouth.

I say - good for you! She might learn from this experience - don't ask something when you don't already know the answer. LOL.

6:13 PM  
Blogger KC said...

What a great post! It really gives us over here in the U.S. some insight on the differences in culture between the two places-I never knew a lot of those things! The pictures are seriously beautiful.

And you said recently that you should learn how to talk back. I think you did just fine-I'm very, very impressed! Way to speak your mind!

That's a bummer that the boy couldn't come along. It looks like you made the best of it, though! (I hope you made the best of those pastries, too...those looked amazing!)

P.S. Great comment today over in my neck of the woods! I really enjoyed reading it!

11:56 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA! I have distant relatives in France still, and in particular one boy who is my age. He did an internship in the US after I met him in France, so he visited me. Over dinner I finally opened up and told him how awful my experience had been in France three years prior, and he was shocked that I had never told him before. But how do you tell someone that you hate their country because people throw trash at you and try to rape you all the time because you live in one of these "banlieu" because no adult or student from your college will talk to you long enough to help you find an apartment in a decent part of town! He genuinely felt bad that my situation had been so crappy, and I too wish it had been better. But it will take a LONG time for the anti-France taste to leave my mouth (hence my schadenfreude this weekend over Zidane's disgrace!)

As for the wedding alone, I too was invited to my Swedish teacher's wedding while the hubby was in Iraq. I really wanted to return to Sweden, but it seemed depressing to go there alone where the only person I knew was the bride. I passed, but I wish I could've gone.

1:44 AM  
Blogger bee said...

What a great great great post! Seriously!
Pffft on the French.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Household6 said...

Sorry that she became so miffed but, if we traveled to that region we preferred to go to Beligum. The people are friendly, kind and patient since my French is horrid.

Good for you for speaking up though. She will get over it.


7:48 PM  
Blogger Tanker Angel Nelly said...

Honesty of Germans? Yeah that is the reason you have to hide when you support the troops or really believe in the stars and stripes because some Germans don't get it and put patriotism into the same line as nationalism....

10:55 AM  

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