So my friend moved to France to do a Masters. Only one day in, her blackberry status had changed at least five times. I asked her to send me an email. What I got was so funny I've decided to post it here. The next voice you hear will be hers.
France is funny!!! I'm loving it...so far. Grenoble is really pretty- very different to what I expected, but a good kind of different ;-). I like my accommodation and public transport is really good. I haven't met many people yet but uni starts this week....
The people here are very funny. I will need to get used to the bluntness. I think I am too used to forced british politeness.
Even the beggars on the street don't take nonsense. One came up to me the other day while I was waiting for the tram and told me exactly how much she wanted from me.
She said, "Give me €2" , pointing at my bag.
I didn't have that much change and was a bit put off so I shook my head, she would would not leave, she encroached even more into my personal space and brought out a form with a list of signatures of other people who had given her €2 or more! So that she would leave me alone, I counted out €1 in coins and gave her, she was not too happy and after waiting for a few more seconds she eventually moved on. This was my first day here!
And today I went to the transport office to get a transport card. While I was on the very long queue, a woman behind me appointed herself queue jumping monitor and walked all the way from the back to fish out someone who she thought was jumping the queue. It turns out they had only gone to stand beside their friend in front. Then another one bellowed at one lady who was just crossing over to the other side. I thought this was a bit much and stood there staring in disgust until the lady in front of me turned back and supported her, basically saying that she was right to want to defend her position on the queue. Then they looked at me for a sign of agreement. I could only laugh. Then one lady suddenly decided to improve upon the system they had going in the office and started "helping" the cashiers by telling people when it was time to go up to the desks. Then the cashier basically said the equivalent of "Hey woman! Whats your stress!" In my mind I was thinking "Yeee! They are going to fight" but everybody just carried on as normal.
And church yesterday was a similar story. Service was mostly in English and it was very nice but also funny. There was one lady who kept shouting out lines that she thought the pastor omitted in the middle of the sermon! I was so confused. There was also another guy who was told by someone in the audience to hurry up with his speech! Then we all had lunch and after, we were basically ordered, and I'm not joking, "clear your plates and cups!", "put them in the bin!", "drop a donation", "shake off the crumbs off your table cloth!", "sit down", "don't just stand around chatting and drinking, help with moving the chairs!" Then finally, they handed brooms out. Oya sweep!
This is a big change from my London church where they beg us to go and eat cake and drink coffee. I don't know which extreme I prefer.
I can't say I wasn't warned about French bluntness...but I need to get used to it. I'm still at that stage where I'm finding everything very amusing.
Chibundu speaking again. I have a request for you my readers. I've noticed that some of the people who read this blog come from places as diverse as Thailand. My friend's email has given me an idea for a series. If any of you are foreigners in your country of residence and would be kind enough to send me an email detailing your experiences that would be nice. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org