I try to keep it real around here and am the first to tell you that the French language can be frustrating, that life in France is NOT like a vacation in France and all the other realities of being a foreigner abroad. But I’m also all about balance. The longer I live in France, the more I realize that a lot of things in France and French culture just make more sense here than they do in the US.
French culture: Things that make more sense in France
The metric system
Rounded numbers are nice. 1 kilometer = 1000 meters. 100 centimeters = 1 meter. The metric system just makes sense. Where the heck did 1 mile = 5280 feet come from? Imperial and US customary measurement systems just seem unnecessarily complicated. The more you use the metric system, the more you’ll realize how many positives it has going for it. Let’s take baking, for example. Having exact measurements is a must unless you want a crappy cake. Measuring ingredients in grams is more precise and 100 grams is always 100 grams… but you know what isn’t exact? 1/2 cup. Your 1/2 cup of flour might be heavier than mine because of how you scoop it and that’s going to affect the cookies (rarely in a good way!).
No electoral college
Tom popped in a little while ago with what he finds strange about the US election process and at the top of the list for me as well is the electoral college. In France, the popular vote wins — every time. It’s a democratic process where the actual votes count and are what determines who will become president.
5 weeks of paid vacation
Why should we live to work? There are more important things. If you’re a full-time employee in France, the law says you get 5 weeks of paid vacation per year. You are also encouraged to use all 5 weeks. End of story. Know what’s even better? All those public holidays. You get off for all of those too, and I’m not just talking about Christmas or New Year’s Day. In May 2017 alone, there are 3 that fall on a week day. Hello long weekend!
Tax already included in price
I like when things are simple. When you’re shopping in France, the price on the label is the price you pay at the register. There’s no confusion when it comes to paying for things in France (and many places in Europe) because the tax is already factored into the price on the actual product or garment. That t-shirt is 25 euros and that’s exactly what you’ll pay at the register. Simple.
Health insurance isn’t tied to your employment
I wrote about health care in France here, but to sum it up, your health care coverage is not employer sponsored like it frequently is in the USA. If you lose or quit your job, you don’t lose your health coverage, nor are you forced to get the equivalent of an expensive COBRA plan. Yes, there are pros and cons to every system on earth, but a country that takes care of its people’s health is a win in my book.
What about you? What things about French culture make more sense to you in France?