French, but nice

I and every person have our own reasons to hate French people, or at least to feel few affection for them. In some cases the feeling comes from good history or political relationships knowledge. In others, from bad experiences (more or less numerous and more or less personal) with them. My case was very different.

When I was eleven, I had one year of French at school. It was compulsory to study it then, so we could decide if we wanted to jeopardize all the secondary education doing the optional subjects on this language (and lose the opportunity to choose more interesting subjects ― like Juggling ― every quarter.

I was eager to start at the beginning of the course. I had been studying English for four years then and I had discovered that I like tongues. And languages as well. But nothing is always like we think.

Lucky is not the word I would use at all to define my according to the teacher I had. During nine months she only taught us to as for the name, the days of the week and to count from one to forty. This is sad enough if you take into account that anyone knows this without studying for a whole year. We could even add the “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?“, which the teacher didn’t mention, but we all knew it. The only good thing of what we learned was being able to say cagant (shitting in Catalan) instead of quarante (forty in French) when the teacher asked the numbers because they sound alike.

Lo and behold the result: French stopped interesting me anymore. I developed a deep ill will against this language and everything related.

My opinion changed, however, after some years and after studying Translation and Interpreting. I forgot that absurd resentment towards the language caused by the teacher (who taught us another subject some time later with the same ability like teaching languages).

Impressively, now I speak a bit of French at the end. It’s due to the presence of two Breton guys who appeared in the laboratory almost three months ago.

Sleepy as I always am, I arrived absentminded to the department, saw them and thought: “Hmmm, new guys. They must be mine”. I like collecting people in order to satisfy my social needs. When I was told they were French I hesitated, but a week later I was very fond of them and said: “You are French, but nice”. That was the beginning of a nice intercultural story.

Some months passed by and I have spent more time with them than with any native and have made things I would have never imagined I would do, like the bath in the Mediterranean watching the sunrise. But the most amazing thing happened just one week ago. I found myself walking Barcelona’s streets with a French guy looking for a bar to see a French selection’s football match and drink beer. France, football, bar, beer? You do need to seduce me to get me breaking so many of my principles at a time!

Unfortunately, this weekend they go back to the north. But now I have two places to stay in Brittany and I can speak some French thanks to two guys who, despite being French, are great.


6 thoughts on “French, but nice

  1. Now I’ll give my more in-depth reaction.

    Stereotypes are all well and good (and actually are most of the time at least partially true).

    But we’re all human beings (even the French and the Spanish!) and we can all get on if we make a minimum of effort.

    I’m always surprised that there are peoples that are supposedly disliked by everyone, but then I realise that really we’re all hated. The English are cold-hearted, thieving pirates with delusions of grandeur. The Catalan are stingey. The French smell of garlic.

    More importantly, do these two guys speak Breton and are they single?

  2. “The French smell of garlic”? That’s a new one for me. I should use it next time.

    One of these two guys can speak a bit of Breton only. He says they don’t take as much care of their language as we Catalans do. It’s a pitty.

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