Cross-cultural insights and questions from home and abroad

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French Baguettes, Macaroons, and the Skinny Frenchies!


“I eat a baguette a day and workout maybe once a week” 

This is what my skinny-ass French friend says to me when I ask him how much bread French people usually eat. He told me when he traveled to Asia it was so hard to get buy without eating bread everyday. After only about 2 months in Paris I managed to gain about 15 pounds and I just can’t seem to work it off. Does anyone else ponder how French people manage to stay so thin? I sure do. Yeah sure they walk a lot and go up and down stairs constantly, but I’m doing the same thing, what’s wrong with me?

France is a land filled with sweet temptations. I no doubt initially gained weight from adding extra sugar to my diet. It seems like everything here is sugary. At snack time there are so many sugary wonders available to you at all times; coffee with sugar, pain au chocolat, macaroons, yummy cookies and tartelettes. It is really difficult to find healthy snack foods in France.

Regardless of changing my diet to WAY LESS amounts of sugar and exercising about 3 times more than before I still haven’t managed to work of the extra weight. At least I am feeling more healthy and am more aware about the dangers of this French SUGARLAND!

Lesson and warning to travelers coming to France: DO NOT GIVE IN TO EVERY TEMPTATION IN PARIS. Pick and chose your goodies and travel WITH CAUTION.

How about you guys? – Anyone else have a similar experience that they’d like to share? What is the one delicious French dessert or sweet that you just cannot resist?



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Varieties of a language and “the right way to speak”

Who reading this speaks Spanish or Portuguese???… or basically any language that has several varieties. Well if your reading this you probably speak English as either a first or second language. Has it ever happened to you where you met someone who speaks a different variety of the language you speak? If so, then you have probably come across some of the same “issues” as I have.

So growing up in California, naturally I first learned a Mexican/ Mexican-American variety of Spanish which coming to Europe has caused me a lot of “linguistic problems”. First the Spaniards start by saying,“Aww your Spanish is soo Mexican, how cute.” They they continue by, “Well that’s incorrect. Spanish comes from Spain so if you want to speak it correctly it’s good to learn it here.”And they proceed to correct my accent…“The word is pronounced THAH-pa-tos, not SA-pa-tos”,which is really annoying. They think because my nationality is American, that my accent is still malleable, which is clearly not true given the fact that before I even arrived to Spain I already spoke fluently. In order to change this, I would have to speak incredibly slow and pay way more attention to my accent than the actual meaning of what I’m trying to say.

Anyway so, after 3 years in Spain I managed to retain my more generic “Latin American” accent and never conform to modifying my pronunciation of the Z and C letters. I also never conformed to using vosotros which is an informal term for the plural form of you. I continued to say ustedes and got along just fine, which again is the Latin American equivalent.Unfortunately, I did have to conform to many colloquial words and expressions which has resulted in me having a hybrid-Spanish. For English speakers it’s like talking with an American accent with a slightly British intonation and random British street slang. Yes, that does sound horrible. Although from a linguistic standpoint, I’d say it’s pretty badass.

Now as most of you know, I’m living in Paris, France. Luckily, all of the French I have learned has been only from Parisians, and my accent is pretty inevitably foreign (although most people can’t tell at first that I’m American). So I don’t get scolded for my crappy language or incorrect accent, yet praised for being an American that learned French pretty quickly (although in my opinion it sucks, but I get by so whatev!).

Now here’s the twist to this story… The grand majority of my friends here in Paris are from… can you guess it… LATIN AMERICA! Which means that all the Castillian Spanish expressions that I didn’t manage to reject, come spitting out of my mouth when talking to my Latino friends. And guess what, sometimes, every once in a while, I am asked what the hell I’m talking about, or told that what I said was “incorrect”. And keep in mind, every Spanish-speaking country has it’s varieties and my friends come from over 6 different countries. In June, I’ll be going back to California, my place of origin, and I’m certain that this will happen to me all over again.

In conclusion: Regardless of these annoyances and my constantly having to adapt and change my language use… I absolutely love the Spanish language and Latino culture and am more than willing to learn more and continue to be challenged of course while maintaining a slightly more Latino accent. (It’s just a personal preference… les pido disculpas a los españoles)

Now I reccomend this video to all my fellow Spanish Speakers: Que dificil es hablar el español 

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What happened to sincerity?

Do you ever feel like you can’t find sincere, genuine connections with people anymore? Is it a cultural thing? Are we being socialized to act this way?

Recently, I have been going through a period where I just can’t seem to find genuine connections with the opposite sex. I am an American living in Europe. Could this be something cultural or is it simply coincidence? Are we being socialized to be more superficial than in the past?

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Being Abroad

No matter where you come from or what country you go to, living abroad can really change your attitudes about anything. Yes sure, travelling can also open up a person’s mind, but living abroad makes you see a different reality you can’t get from just visiting. Some people don’t even actually have to “move abroad” to live this experience. In many countries, not excluding the US, moving to another region or even another city you can notice big differences in culture and mentality.

I never thought while living abroad I’d end up living with a family, and with one so culturally different from myself, but I am now living with a Cameroonian family in Paris, and I have to say it’s probably one of the best things that happened to me. Before, I was used to living with other young internationals. Over the past 4 years, I’ve been in 2 cities in Spain, one city in the US and now I’m here in Paris, and when I got here I planned on living in the same sort of atmosphere. Well, the reality is much different when you live in Paris and don’t make a lot of money. You have to be much more open to living in ways you didn’t think comfortable. You have to sacrifice space and privacy and pay more money for it. This actually can help teach you an important lesson of being humble and sharing. Now, I feel like a much more patient person who doesn’t need so much personal space and I’m getting along fine. I feel more positive about life and am happier on average. I really do feel like part of this is thanks to the family I have been living with. One thing I think we often forget when we are in our home countries is that humans are extremely adaptable beings. We get used to our own ways and often reject change or new environments, but in reality we are made to adapt and evolve.

 I will ask you…In what ways has living abroad changed you?