When you relocate, there are so many different experiences, ways of living, and ideals you will learn! Here are a couple more observations I made from time I lived in France.
Food is a delicacy.
Being open to new foods makes international traveling much easier on you, and on your hosts – whether you’re living with a family after you move, or whether we’re talking about a host for a dinner party. I lived with two host families – once in Louvieres, France (near to Bayeux) and the other in a small town near to Strasbourg, France. My first experiences with them always had me amazed. They used fresh ingredients, and made something different every day without a recipe! To me, this was very different, as I did not have experience with a stay-at-home mom, watching her cook. For myself, I could barely follow a recipe, and the idea of cooking without one was as possible to me back then as pigs flying!
Food in France seems bigger, fresher, and more exotic than even what I’ve seen at the most wonderful of farmer’s markets in New York. Another key difference I noticed about food is that in America it seems that meals are to satisfy a craving, or to create energy to do the next task. In France, however, food is savored, and shared. You’re actually encouraged to taste the flavor of the food, rather than simply chew and swallow. And mealtime is where the events of the day are shared, rather than just nourishment to wolf down at your desk as you continue to work.
When you move to another country, you will often experience different foods. The actual types of food you find may be different, and certainly the way it is prepared will be different. It’s always a great idea to sample as much new food as you can when you move someplace new.
Family comes first.
In France, lunch and dinner are often considered family time. With my host family in Normandy, if anyone was going to miss lunch or dinner, they had to tell my host mom. Meals were home cooked – no frozen food, no TV dinners – this was time for the family to come together, share their day, and laugh. So, it was important to know how many would be dining, so that the proper amount of food would be cooked. With my family in Strasbourg, my host dad, Dany, worked in an office, and my host mom worked from home. Dany came home every day at lunchtime to eat with us. It was touching to me how bonding an experience this family time was. Being from a big city in America, I never experienced family time at lunchtime. Dinner yes, but never at lunch.
Family traditions will be a big part of your experience. Whether you notice couples and families spending a lot of time together, or whether they are always working and apart will be something you’ll notice. In some cultures, men are more in touch with romantic concepts like flowers, and women are expected to play a more traditional role as a homemaker. In other cultures, women may assume a more financial role in supporting the family. (Of course, economic conditions, and times play a big role in family traditions all over the world.)
Make sure to carefully observe and respect traditions like this. If you are single and living someplace new, these are the behaviors you’ll want to understand as you get into dating. Be careful of forming stereotypes, because not everyone you meet will abide by them. However, if you find that there is a cultural norm in how a husband or wife behaves, at least be aware of them as you enter into dating.
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