Dismissing the clichés of the French culture

Larry Willis

Offering more of an understanding about the facts and assumptions concerning France, the International Students Cultural Organization (ISCO) held an event last Thursday called French Night. Vincent Rosec, a freshman theater major from Saint-Lo, France, gave a presentation with information about French culture, religion and politics.

“We used to be a monarchy a long time ago, and then one day, we decided we didn’t want to be a monarchy anymore,” he said. “There was this huge prison there that belonged to the king, and everyone was freed, and then it was the same old. Then, we decided to cut the head of the king, and since then, we are not a monarchy anymore.”

Rosec also discussed religion in the context of France. He said that although many people are technically, in the statistics, Catholic, they are usually either agnostic or atheist. About 30 percent of the people do not practice their religion.
“About 50 percent of the population is Catholic, but out of that 50 percent, you have about 50 percent of Catholics that do not believe in God,” he said.

According to Rosec, many people are Catholic by tradition and not by choice.  “I was baptized when I was 1 year old, so I didn’t have a choice,” he said.

Rosec went on to clarify many of the stereotypes and clichéd beliefs that Americans may have about the French.

“One of the big things that I’ve heard about a lot is that French people are naked all the time, which most of the time is actually not true, except when you go to nude beaches,” he said. “But if you go there to find some very attractive people, usually, that’s not what’s going to happen.”

Rosec discussed some of France’s traditional foods, as well as foods that the French are commonly known for eating, such as snails, frogs and cheese.
“I’ve actually never tried snails, nor frog, but I’ve actually heard that frog tastes like chicken, and we put so much butter on the snails that we don’t even taste the snails anymore,” he said.
France is also commonly known as being the country of love, though in the opinion of Rosec, that is another stereotype.

According to Rosec, the French have a bridge in Paris where people go for love and luck, and they throw a key into the river. “It’s a luck that symbolizes their love, or relationship,” he said. “Usually, they put their name, and the name of their boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. But that’s about it.

“I don’t think that French people are more romantic than Americans, or Mexicans, or Chinese, or any other country. It’s just a cliché. We are not more romantic. Don’t imagine that because I’m French that I’m going to be super romantic. I might be, or I might not.”

Sports was also discussed. Rosec said that soccer is the biggest sport in France. He also said that French people are interested in handball.
“It’s not very well-known in the States,” he said. “It’s pretty much a mix between basketball and soccer. You have some goals, and you don’t have a basket. It’s very fun and fascinating. I really enjoy it. Everyone plays it in high school and in middle school, so it’s pretty big.”

According to Rosec, the main difference between college in France and college in America is that for a public college in France, the tuition is free.

“We pay about $500 of tuition a year, and that’s it,” he said. “Then you have to pay for your housing, but you don’t have to pay $20,000 for tuition, like you would in most schools. But we also have way more classes.
“I see people complaining about having 16 hours, when it’s actually what some French people have in two days. We can go up to 30-35 hours a week for some classes or majors.”

“Paris is usually more expensive than anywhere else in France,” Rosec said about the capital. “Two scoops of ice cream in France would be $15. We also have other things that are more expensive in France, like gas. Gas in France is three times more than what you guys pay in America.”

“I enjoyed the presentation a lot,” said Elizabeth Nowling, a freshman English education major from Ashford. “It was very funny and comical. I was never bored, and the speaker was very funny, and he brought up a lot of clichés and helped people to understand what they meant.”

“It was the best French experience I’ve ever had,” said Tabitha Craig, a senior medical technology major from Mobile.

Cesar Jauregui, a junior broadcast journalism major from Pell City and president of ISCO, shared his thoughts on the program. “I think it went well,” he said. “It was very comical, in the best way, because ultimately, we just want people to come here and gather and have fun. I think it was a huge success. People enjoyed it, and they laughed, and they’re coming together from different places, which is ultimately our goal.”

Related posts