nne-Sophie and myself (Kathleen) have had many of the same experiences. We both lived in the same countries (USA and France), we both played volleyball at Division I American universities, and we speak two common languages. Yet with all of these similarities and the fact that we usually understand the point of view of each other, sometimes our upbringing and cultural differences still cause us to amicably disagree.
Kathleen Hruska: What is the biggest cultural difference for you in USA?
Anne-Sophie Bauer: People in the USA are extremely nice; it was almost a shock for me. Being French I am used to people not talking too much to strangers, I guess we need our private space. In the USA it is totally appropriate to stop people in the mall and compliment them on their haircut or on their shoes.
KH: I deﬁnitely agree! I think we like to talk to whoever is around us; my mom is the queen of this. She will get the life story from the lady behind her in the grocery store. Elle abuse un peu.
Conversely, I agree that most French people tend to look at me like I’m an alien if I need to ask a stranger a question in public. I have had many positive interactions as well, but overall I am hesitant to do it because I know it is not very common here.
ASB: The ﬁrst time it happened to me I was very confused, asking myself "Do I know this person?" "Why does she stop me to say that?" It did not occur to me that this person just wanted to be nice, I found this behavior rather suspicious.
KH: I think after seven years in Europe I have become less open to sharing too much basic personal information, certainly with strangers, whereas before I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it.
KH: What do you miss most from either country?
ASB: The funny thing is whichever country I was in, I missed the food of the other one. In the USA I really missed French cheese, Comté and Munster. I was also very excited to go back to France during Christmas break to eat foie gras. But once I moved back to France, I started missing Mexican food a lot along with the free reﬁlls of soda at the restaurants and the cheap McDonald’s on every corner.
KH: I totally agree! From France I miss the bread, bakeries and cheese the most. From USA I miss Mexican food and other "mom and pop" American style restaurants where you can get an American style breakfast.