Being a Brit living in France has been for the most part a culturally enriching experience for me. I am English and live with three French people; this means that my French is constantly improving, but what’s more, it also gives me a clear window into real French culture. At the same time, I think it must be interesting for them to discover things about British culture, the British way of life and above all British humour. However, being a Brit in France sometimes means that French/British tensions which have become so engrained, are brought to the surface.
During my time living in France, I have found that the stereotypical British assumption that 'French people are rude' to be quite false. I have found the French people that I've met to be very welcoming and interested to know about my cultural background. However, there have been some exceptions. Here are some of the things that French people have said to me which have offended the Brit within me:
“British food is disgusting, and French food is much better.”
“Do other British films exist apart from James Bond?”
“So where in London are you from?” (I’m not from London and have never lived there.)
“But British people are less family orientated than the French.”
“Cheddar is not a true cheese.”
In truth, these comments are really pretty harmless and some of them are mildly amusing. I realised that what annoyed me about these comments was the fact that they are purely based on stereotypes, rather than experience or knowledge. It can be so easy to rely on stereotypes that we’ve heard from other people rather than what we actually know to have experienced. If you lump people together into catch-all categories such as nationality, race, gender, religion or sexuality based on stereotypes and assume that the people within those categories are all the same, you are only continuing your own ignorance. Be curious, think about your own experiences and question what other people tell you to be true.
Which stereotypes about your own country offend you?