This is the pumpkin that we bought on the side of the street in a small village. My husband and I pulled three children out of the car and crossed a busy street to pick out our first French family pumpkin. Sweet Bear said, “This one.” And, this is the one we got. She is a good pumpkin picker I think! By the number of people who were stopping to get a pumpkin, I must have been wrong about thinking that the French don’t celebrate fall by decorating with my favorite big, round orange fruit. I do see pumpkins sitting in windows or on walls. However, there are not as many to be seen as in the US. We, also, made our way to a “harvest festival.” I was so excited. A pumpkin and festival all in one day! It was beginning to feel just like home. When we got to the festival after hauling out three babies and two strollers we were disappointed to find just a huge flea market. It was not a festival at all. In America I could sue the city for false advertising! Just kidding?
Ok. Why does France not feel like America. The differences. The houses are much prettier in France with the shutters and slate roofs. The cars are not the same. There are not ten or more fastfood restaurants every few blocks. The roads are not really straight or wide like in America. Most streets in Alsace may not be straight but the streets are very clean and well maintained. Many of the smaller streets and sidewalks are made with laided stones which make the streets seem charming and more natural. The big difference between the way Americans build our cities and towns compared to the way the French build theirs is that the French value harmony and quality.
All the structures and streets blend together and with nature. In America the houses are not natural looking. The houses have “fake” shutters screwed to the side for decoration. I don’t know who thought that up! Either have real shutters or don’t have anything! The fake ones are ugly! Real shutters are very practical for security as well as beauty. More and more American homes look like Barbie’s dream house. The wood is replaced with a manmade imitations that look like plastic. I know it is easier to maintain and in the long run cheaper because it does not need painted. But, it is not pretty. Because of the amount of trees that still line every street, American cities could be as beautiful if not more beautiful than French cities. My husband often commented on how many trees there were in the city and how pretty it was. He thought it was a little like living in a small forest.
The difference is quality. Americans need to demand higher quality in their new homes and Americans should restore old homes to their original beauty. Please stop covering beautiful old traditional American houses with manmade siding!!!
And getting back to demanding higher quality. When my mothers house was being built her neighbor had to tell the workers that they were putting it up backwards!!! Can you imagine that these so called professions were building a house backwards. Not unbelievable when you consider the amount of beer cans and bottles scattered all over the construction area. That is another point. In France the people who build houses learn this as a profession. It is considered a skilled labor. In America most of the men building houses are not what I would call skilled. Again. Americans need to demand higher quality.
The French demand high quality for everything! Whether it be the food they eat or clothes they wear or the houses and cities they live in. I often say that when the French do something they do it right. The French workers are the most productive in the world. This proves that a high quality of life can be balanced with a high quality of work.
In America we are pressed to go fast, fast, fast and do more, more, more. Americans are brainwashed to think that they must work hard and long for the success of the country. Americans are STRESSED. I love my country as much as any other American. I just don’t think that the big guys are sacrificing their quality of life for America. It is the middle man and below who suffer. They are the ones who live each day to just get to the next.
I worked at a bank in America before I came to France. I saw ordinary American couples struggling to live with huge amounts of debt. I heard of people buying their big dream house and not being able to afford furniture to fill it. All I heard my whole life was that I was lucky to be born in America, the greatest country on earth. Yes, America is a great country. But the American dream has changed. It is now if you can’t afford to buy it. No worry. Just charge it! I think that there is a breaking point and Americans are getting close to it.
What will America do when only the rich can afford to go to college? What will our country become? And why are we so proud to not need to learn other languages…because english is enough! I don’t know the world gets smaller every day…and we need to look to history to see the future. Right? Think of Rome, England, France and many other countries that were once in the front. THINK! And think about China!
Americans need to travel and know other countries. We need to stop believing all the bull the big guys are brainwashing us with. The big guys don’t want Americans to know about other countries. Americans may start to question why the richest country on earth does not have social health care and why are there so many people living in poverty? Why?
Is America the greatest country on Earth? I think that no country is the greatest country. And that no culture is the greatest culture.
Americans need to open their eyes and demand more. More! I don’t want America to be France. I want America to be America. I just don’t like the trend I see.
My country is always looking in to reassure itself that it is great. I want my country to look out and show how great it is to the world.
Learn other languages, respect other cultures and don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to question our government and to demand a higher quality of work at EVERY level. This is what I have learned from the French and I thank them.
I dare any American reading this to learn about another culture. And I double dog dare you to do this with open eyes and heart.