I know a lot of Americans don’t like to hear it, but… we’re not perfect. Our country is a great and wonderful one and I am proud to be American, but there are plenty of things we could use a little help on.
If you would have told me this 7 years ago I would have said ‘sure, sure’ but not really taken it to heart. If you would have told me that some of those things we could learn from the French, I would have laughed. But alas, here I am 7 years later after living between the two countries (France and America) and I can definitely say there are some things to learn. On both sides, actually. But since this is in English, I’m assuming it’s mostly English speakers who are reading, so today I’m going to go through 5 things we could learn from the French.
It seems like so many Americans are always in a hurry. To go to work, to come home from work, to see friends, to run errands, there’s always a reason. One thing I’ve noticed here is that it’s a slower pace of life in general. It’s okay to not be in a hurry. Of course this isn’t true for the whole of France and would probably exclude Paris. But for the most part, the French are chill and I like it.
I have a French friend that went to England for a class trip and when they offered her French fries and pizza, she was shocked. She was shocked that those would be put together and that there wouldn’t be any vegetables involved. For the French, vegetables are a huge part of their meals, and not just a spoonful of peas on the side. Today for lunch at a friends house, I ate Ratatouille, which is a bunch of vegetables in a stew. Everyone is expected to eat it, kids included. And I think we could use a little more incorporated into our lives. Not to mention these types of meals are the ones that the kids get for a hot lunch at school! Americans could really use a health burst!
Take a Vacation
In France the average person gets 5 weeks of vacation a year starting out. FIVE. In America, it’s two after you’ve worked a little bit for it. They know how to take time off of work. They know how to leave work at the office and enjoy life. I haven’t met a French person stressed because of work. I’m sure they exist, but for the most part people know how to relax. Don’t you think Americans could use a little bit of that?
The French walk. They ride bikes. They don’t hit the gym, but they choose to walk home from work. This, combined with the healthy eating habits equals a pretty healthy country (minus the smoking). When there’s an opportunity to walk, the French take it. The other day I had lunch with a group of French friends at my friend’s house. After we ate (and we ate a lot) we went out and took a walk. No where in particular, just walked. It was actually really lovely. I know walking isn’t conducive in a lot of American cities, but it’s a good idea to think in that direction a little more.
Bigger is not necessarily better
One thing that I’ve noticed here in France is that there isn’t as much ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ as there is in America. People have small cars and small houses. People live simply but nicely. It’s rather pleasant to not have to have all the newest, biggest things. We can be okay with our small 3 bedroom house and be content with what we have.
Now, disclaimer: I don’t want to make it sound like France is super awesome and America isn’t. That is not my intent at all, because this post would be quite a bit longer if it were the other way around. I guess the overall point is that just because it’s done differently doesn’t make it bad. And just because it’s different from us doesn’t mean we can’t reevaluate our ways and see what’s good and what’s not and what’s working and what needs work. It’s a good exercise!
What do you think we could learn from other countries?