Bridging gaps between our country and others

Muriel Royer

Muriel Royer

(Editor’s Note: “Culture and the World” is a new feature that will run every week. It is intended to provide views of different cultures and their views on ours. It will be written by Muriel Royer, a student from France, Janine Fagan, a student from the United Kingdom, Tasiyagnunpa Livermont, a Native American student and Sister Anisah David, a member of the Islamic religion. If you would like to write for “Culture and the World” and are an international student, please contact [email protected].)

A bottle of wine and a piece of bread under each arm. Sympathetic and talkative but terribly proud, arrogant and absolutely not eager to meet American people.

Is that the way you imagine French people? Well, part of the portrayal may be accurate, but if you only see the French that way, you are missing the point!

As one of the dozens of new international students at SDSU, I met people from all around the world in these last few days. You may know some of them through one of your classes. Just like them, I have realized that the representations of my country are not always correct.

What are these “French” dressings, “French” vanilla bottles and “French” bread that I first discovered in HyVee right here in Brookings, S.D.?

I have to admit that the image I had of the average U.S. citizen is not correct either. Being here to study journalism, I hope to have a chance to learn much about American culture, too.

Actually, Europeans and Americans have a strong common culture basis. Sometimes, however, they do not react the same way.

Here, people I have known for fifteen minutes have asked me questions that my best friends would not dare ask me.

I have also enjoyed strangers waving at me while passing on the street, which rarely happens across the ocean.

What does it mean? Are American people inquisitive and French people withdrawn? Or were they simply educated in different ways because of their different history and culture? Should these kinds of misunderstandings endanger a long-standing friendship between two countries?

Traveling and discovering other ways of living are great opportunities. Meeting people from elsewhere is a way of traveling without moving. Thanks to several hundred international students on campus, we all have this opportunity to enjoy other cultures. Ready to go?

To learn more about international student activities, please contact the International Relations Club at 688-5661

To learn more about French culture and the opportunities to learn French or study in France, contact M.P. Baggett in the modern languages department at 688-4153.

Muriel Royer is from Paris, France. Write to her at [email protected].