Two women kissing each other on the cheeks

French Culture Shock: What to Expect When Moving to France

Mar 18, 2023

Moving to France can be an exciting and enriching experience. However, like with any move to a new country, it can also be accompanied by some chocs culturels (cultural shocks). To help you prepare for your move, we've put together a list of some of the cultural differences you may encounter in France.


➤ Language Barrier


Even if you've been studying French for years, there's no substitute for actually living in a French-speaking country. French people tend to speak very quickly and use a lot of slang and idioms, so it may take some time to get used to the language. It's important to be patient with yourself and keep practicing your French as much as possible.


➤ Social Customs


French people tend to be more reserved and formal than their American counterparts. It's important to remember to say bonjour (hello) when entering a store or restaurant and au revoir (goodbye) when leaving. It's also common to kiss on the cheek when greeting friends, family, or acquaintances. However, don't be offended if someone doesn't want to kiss you - it's not personal, just a cultural difference.


➤ Work-Life Balance


The French value their free time and tend to prioritize their personal lives over their work lives. This means that stores and restaurants may close earlier than you're used to, and it may take some time to adjust to the more relaxed pace of life. However, this can also mean that you'll have more time to enjoy the things you love and spend time with loved ones.


➤ Food Culture


French cuisine is famous around the world, and for good reason. However, you may find some differences in the way food is prepared and consumed in France. Meals tend to be longer and more leisurely, with multiple courses and plenty of wine. French people also tend to eat smaller portions and place a high value on the quality of ingredients.


➤ Bureaucracy


Like many European countries, France can be quite bureaucratic, with lots of paperwork and red tape to navigate. Be prepared to spend some time filling out forms and waiting in line at government offices. However, once you get the hang of it, you'll find that the French bureaucracy can be quite efficient and well-organized.


➤ Conclusion


Moving to France can be an incredible experience, but it's important to be prepared for the cultural differences you may encounter. By keeping an open mind, being patient with yourself and others, and embracing the new experiences that come your way, you'll be able to make the most of your time in this beautiful country.

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