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The Pains Of Being French Abroad

I can’t complain about my nationality. France has a good reputation abroad and a French passport permits you to visit the whole world. When I say “I’m French”, people often nicely ask me questions surrounding my nationality. Though, a lot of questions are based around French stereotypes, which gets quite dull after a while. Here, I’ll tell you some of them.

MY ACCENT

I have experienced it myself and I can promise you: a French accent makes you inevitably more attractive to English-speaking people. Honestly, I don’t know why, because I personally find it ugly. In fact, I wish I didn’t have an accent so that I could sound like the natives when I speak in another language. Everyone (correctly) guesses I’m French each time I speak. And when some people don’t, it makes me really happy!

In Australia, people used to mention my accent a lot. They told me “your accent is so thick” or “so hot” and they would even imitate me sometimes, which became annoying pretty quickly. They would also forget to correct my vocabulary mistakes.

However, in Italy, people would mention my accent only if I brought up my home country and they’d correct me more often. I guess it all depends on the language and the culture. Fun fact: some Italian people thought I had a Russian accent (strange, right?!).

I DO NOT EAT SNAILS EVERYDAY

I know we eat strange things in France, but please stop asking about snails. We eat snails during Christmas time, but I haven’t eaten some for years now. It’s a kind of tradition but a lot of French people don’t buy snails for Christmas Eve.

I DO NOT LIVE IN PARIS

If every French person were living in Paris, the country would be called Paris and not France. Paris is so well-known and amazing that people forget all the other parts of the country. Unfortunately, a lot of French exchange students get sick of the “do you live in Paris?” question so they end up answering “yes” – even if it’s not true. It’s like asking an American “do you live in New York?” or asking a Chinese person “do you live in Shanghai?”. Not everyone lives in their nation’s most famous city!

French abroad Rakbo Paris

I’M NOT A WINE EXPERT

Maybe it’s because I’m young, but I’m not a wine expert. AT ALL. I must admit that even when we do hit the legal drinking age, we don’t really drink wine when we party. If we do, it is low-cost wine (’cause we’re broke). So, I absolutely have no idea what a really good and expensive wine tastes like. Some people come up to me with famous names like “do you know…?” and then ask, “Is it famous in France?” I’m sorry, I have no clue, mate!

I DON’T SMILE A LOT

It’s so great to see people smiling at each other even if they are perfect strangers in other countries. People can smile all day from 7am to 10pm. But how they manage that is a mystery to me! My friends abroad often ask me if I’m okay or if I’d like to share what am I thinking about. I have no answers because it’s just my regular facial expression. Which actually looks like a resting bitch face to them! If you see me, don’t worry – I’m not mad, I’m just French!

French abroad Rakbo bitch face

Profile photo of Ondine

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Ondine Romanini

Ondine is a 17 year-old student currently in Italy for one year. She was born in Paris and raised in Challans (western part of France). Since her father is half Italian and her mother has traveled a lot, she has always enjoyed traveling. She discovered her will to study abroad during the visit of an American High School while being on vacation in the US at 14. When she was 15, she had been an exchange student in Australia for 2 months. Back home, she decided to go for it again in Italy. She would like to go to uni abroad and study Communication Science. Ondine has a youtube channel : " Ondine quand ? " in which she talks about her experiences (in English).


7 comments

  1. Hahaha french people have resting bitch faces too! I do like the accents so I agree with the people there. Lol, if everyone was from Paris it would be called that instead of France. We had an exchange student from France a couple years ago and that was a nice experience.

  2. This article is very relatable lol. When I had to introduce myself when I was abroad I would be like “Hi! I’m Hanna and I’m from Belgium,” and the response to that would often be “Ah! Chocolate!” or “Beer!” (literally just those words, not even full sentences) and I would just be like “Yes… We do have those *nervous laughter*” lol.

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