Discovering just how British you are

I used to think I was a bit of a Francophile; more accustomed to the French way of life but accidentally dropped into England at birth. This year has certainly changed that. It’s not that I don’t like France any more, I still think it’s a fantastic country. The thing is, I’ve come to realise that I’m ridiculously British. I fit into so many stereotypes I feel very fortunate that I don’t like tea, if I did I would be nothing more than a caricature of a British person.

I have found myself discussing the Queen and the royal family on several occasions. This hasn’t been because a French person has asked me something about them. No, I have just been involved in conversations with British friends about the royals. As someone who generally leans to the left, I should be a raging republican. I’ve really tried to be one, but I’m just not. I don’t think they should get money from the tax-payer or have any real political power, but I’m not against the existence of a monarchy.

I like nothing more than a good Cheddar, a Victoria sponge and some Cadbury’s. French cheese is great and I won’t say no to some decent croissants and patisserie. However I do genuinely miss many British foods. Sometimes you just want a nice piece of cake or some cheese on toast. I never realised that squash (or ‘diluting juice’ for my Scottish readers) was so uniquely British, you cannot find it anywhere here. Out of all the things he got me for Valentine’s, I think my boyfriend got the greatest response when he handed me a bottle of Irn Bru.

As this blog has previously documented, I find queuing a very important and necessary part of life. Alas, the French do not share this view. In all fairness, it doesn’t always lead to the madness I experienced at the Modern Art Gallery. Yet it can still send me into a rage as I am trying to leave a tram only to be pushed past by people getting on. The rule is simple: people get off before you try to get on. I don’t see why, when people don’t queue for the bus and push past each other, they can’t at least smile and say ‘excuse me’. It also doesn’t seem to be accepted that older or disabled people or people with young children get priority for seats. I have moved a few times and been greeted with exclaims of surprise that I did such a thing. It’s funny how things that seem so natural to me are completely alien to the French.

If I was on the Erasmus X Factor right now I would say something about the roller coaster ride of self-discovery that is Erasmus and then dedicate it to a dead/ill relative. Of course any kind of travelling or new experience is going to lead to you learning something about yourself. But a shower-epiphany (if Euripedes was in the twenty-first century) can do the same thing. Erasmus just makes everything seem to happen at a greater pace and more often. I’m not sure how thrilled I am to discover my apparent patriotism, especially as it is a quality generally associated with BNP members. Yet it certainly has told me more about what I value and, most importantly, the foods I need to live on a daily basis. I shall leave you to ponder the importance of squash in your life.



Categories: France, Strasbourg

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