They say re-entry is harder after having been an expat. That being said, I travel back to the States twice a year and, although I feel comfortable there as an American, I do notice a few things while I’m in the U.S., that are strikingly different from in France, such as:
- the wide diversity of fast food restaurants & stores (Wendys, Arbys, Popeyes, KFC, Subway, Starbucks, CVS, Walgreens, Target, TJ Maxx)
- availability of food at any hour of the day or night
- I rarely saw smokers
- the lack of scooters and motorcycle (I saw 6 in a ten-day period compared to 6 every second in Nice)
- air conditioning blasting cold air in the airport and basically everywhere (in September)
- homogeneous neighborhoods/residences, based on economic status
- right turn on red light allowed (illegal in France)
- the vast number of churches in any given area
- uniform color of U.S. money (except for the purple five on the back of a $5 bill – why is it like that, by the way?)
The most notable difference is the friendly and helpful customer service in the U.S., which is generally not considered automatically included in one’s job in France (unless they are indeed working in a customer service department); therefore, they tend to do only the job they are paid to do.
French Television Channel One’s website recently posted what they view as “Americans’ Top Ten French Stereotypes” (link list is in English) of the French. What do you think of this list? Have you personally experienced any of these?
I believe one needs to travel with an open mind, leaving behind expectations of how they think things should be, in order to have a fulfilling and enlightening journey. Bon Voyage & Bienvenue!
Thanks for sharing your insight as an American expat – I had a simiar experience returning to DC and Boston for a visit (currently living in France). It really makes the “American” and “French” elements stand out that much clearer!
Thanks for commenting – I definitely notice cultural differences on both sides more now too. (I also had a Jack Russell!)