September 09, 2004

WALLS

Blackfive points to an op-ed called A European Conversation. I've certainly been there and had that conversation, and I sure wanted to bust their chops too. He also points to an article about how one in five Germans wants the Berlin Wall back. I know of at least two Germans who blame all their country's economic troubles on the former East. I can't say if they're representative, but they make no bones about how they feel towards the former East freeloaders.

Incidentally, I thought Europeans in general were against walls. I guess they're only against one of them.

Blackfive ends by pointing to a Kim du Toit post about how warmly he was received in Paris. Many of the commenters echoed his sentiments; I wish I had been as lucky as they were. I majored in French and studied it for 8 years before moving to Angers. I won all sorts of awards in high school and won French Student of the Year in my college. I placed into the top level of French study when I moved there to study abroad, and I found the French to be quite rude to Americans. They would pretend not to understand me, even with the simplest sentences. (How hard is it to figure out that I'm asking for stamps when I'm in the post office?) Our teachers would praise the Taiwanese and Japanese speakers and then cringe when the Americans spoke and say things like, "Oh, you really need to get rid of that horrible American accent." Some landlords even banned English in the home, even when three English speakers lived together. Once when four of us Americans were walking down the street, a French person started yelling at us for speaking English to each other, telling us to go home if we wanted to speak English.

My experience with my extended family is the only thing that redeems France for me. They have never been anything but kind and encouraging. I wish I had met them first instead of the awful people I met in Angers.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:18 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 Admittedly my French carries an Italian rather than an English accent, but I never had any trouble of the sort you describe. My experience was very similar to Kim's. Maybe it was an Angers thing - I've never been there, so I can't comment.

Posted by: Dominic at September 09, 2004 05:00 AM (pqgq+)

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