French Culture Shocks: An American’s First Day in France

If only I had looked that good doing it 🙂

Hi Friends! I was recently lucky enough to get a visit from a childhood friend Emily in Paris. She’s known me since the days when life priorities were how to get my glittery white eye shadow to last a whole day of school and whether the two bang strands I pulled out of my slicked back ponytail hung correctly in my face. Yes, I was a “stylish,” and at times, self-absorbed teenager.

Like many Americans, travelling internationally isn’t exactly her cup of tea. She’s explored more places in the US than I could count, but this was her first trip to France and I was excited to introduce her to the land of smelly cheese and “non.” Parents always talk about what a gift it is to see the world through their children’s innocent eyes.  Well, since I’m approaching my 10th anniversary in France next month, it was kind of a gift, albeit a hilarious one, to see France through Emily’s innocent eyes. She, of course, couldn’t stop commenting on the beautiful pastries, the amazing architecture, the stylish people etc… But she also started commenting on all those things that she wasn’t expecting… and that’s when stuff got good.

Buckle up as I unveil the 5 culture shocks that a literal day old newbie noticed in “La France” that had me laughing, rolling my eyes and at times defending those Frenchies I adore so much.

I’ve got a corresponding video on my channel that you can check out below! There are 5 more culture schocks on the video that you can’t check out in the article, so hit that play button!

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The dirty truth of the 5 most common 2nd trimester pregnancy symptoms

I am officially in my third trimester and can proudly say I’ve survived 2/3 of this pregnancy! That alone deserves a flute of something transparent and bubbly, but since I’m not drinking the good stuff until the babe has made her grand entrance on planet earth, I’ll have to settle for some sparkling water with a splash of grenadine. #notthesame

Now that I’m the newest expert on the block about the trials and tribulations of second trimester pregnancy, I’m here to give you all the REAL deets about the 5 most common second trimester symptoms. If you missed out on all the fun of the first trimester symptoms, you can find the riveting recap here! 

Now I must preface this article in the same way my doctor reminds me when I pull out my list of questions at each monthly appointment (yup the poor doc in France has to see me every month for an hour, lucky him) that “Madame Catanzano, no pregnancy, even for the same woman, is exactly the same. You have got to stop reading and over comparing yourself on all those forums.” Umm, did I hear you correctly doc? As a fabulously intelligent and educated individual, I can believe that no two pregnancies are exactly the same, HOWEVER, over my dead body will I give up my “what to expect when you’re expecting” forums. Those dear ladies give me hope that it’s not just me that can’t fit into her boots because my ankles became cankles overnight or reassure me that someday these uncontrollably, massive knockers will drop 5 sizes and slightly resemble the perky pals I carried around before. This is my mental health we are discussing so lightly!

All this to say that, you may or may not experience exactly what I’m going through. No two pregnancies are exactly the same. But since I’m covering some of the 5 most common pregnancy symptoms in the 2nd trimester, I’m going to go ahead and believe my precious forums, that you will experience at least one of them and large chance you experience it in a similar way. So please, take a deep breath and repeat after me. “No mother ever says it’s not worth it.”

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Transportation in France: How my travel life has changed since leaving the USA

THIS COULD BE YOU. AND YOU. AND YOU.

Oh the joys of traveling in Europe. Wanna jet off to Lake Como for the weekend? Grab a cheap airfare. Wanna slither down to the south of France and bronze your booty on the côte d’azur? Just hop on a high-speed train. Wanna picnic near the Seine next to your ridiculously tiny Parisian apartment? Just grab your walking shoes, your bike, rent a city scooter, hop on the bus, duck down into the metro or flag a cute Frenchie on his moped…. Let’s just say the options are endless for getting there people!

Due to the ease at which even the most directionally challenged adults like myself can travel around France/Europe, I have given my siblings a very exaggerated image of my jetsetter life. It’s hard to defend my lack of “luxury lifestyle” when I’m visiting Denmark, Sweden, Italy, France and Germany in the span of 6 months and then telling my family I live a pretty average life in Paris.

But I’m here to dish the dirt today friends, because while we could say that I prioritize my fun money for traveling, my jetsetter lifestyle is less drinking champagne onboard Kanye’s private jet and more wondering if RyanAir will charge me for the amount of oxygen I consumed onboard during my low cost flight. But at the end of the day, I do manage to get from point A to point B more efficiently, cheaper and some could argue more comfortably than my fellow compatriots in the home of the free. So let’s explore why that is.

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Back To School! 4 Major Differences Between the US and France: College Edition

Since I’m pretty sure that you are ALL avid readers of the blog, then it’s safe to assume that you’ve all already read the first part of last week’s Back to School/la Rentrée article. The one that focuses on the big differences between middle school and high school in this land of cheese vs the land of burgers? If your memory needs jogged or you’re a shameful fair weathered fan of the blog and missed out on last week’s article, don’t tell me about it, just go check out the first part here

To finish up last weeks discussion, you’ve got another fabulous video with my most recent guest star Apolline. Not only is Apo one of those rare breeds of Parisian’s that are actually kind to strangers, she’s also our expert on the school system in France. Since she’s just finishing up her masters and is still taking advantage of the student life we all wish we still had, she gives lots of insights on how the college system works in France and some of the differences she sees with the US system.

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Back to School! 5 Major Differences between French and US Schools

It’s officially the week of La Rentrée (first day of school) in France! I don’t even have kids yet and the stench of La Rentrée seems to follow me to work anyways. All the kids in France have their first day of school on the exact same day and it’s a BIG F’in deal. After a two month summer break, it’s safe to say that the returning kids aren’t hyped to go back, even if it means time with friends and the parents are so pumped to hand back their little munsters that they are practically skipping down the sidewalks. The only difference being those first timers in kindergarten, or CP, as they are called in France. The first day of school in your entire life seems to be an anxiety ridden experience for both parents and kids alike. Safe to say, I’m not upset that I have at least 5 more years until I need to control those water works. 

So to kick off La Rentree, I shot a video with one of the coolest Frenchies I know, Apolline, about all the differences between the school system in France and the US. She’s currently a student, so she really knows her stuff, and in the first video we talked all things middle school and high school. You can check out all the fun here! It’s my first video in French, but I added English subtitles for all you non Frenchies out there who want to check out the action. 

Now, if you prefer my humour by writing, you can just keep on reading. It’s hard to touch on all the differences between school life in France and the US because there’s honestly a bajillion. But, I’ve got my 5 favorite differences below, and if you want another 2, you gotta check out the vid!

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Did you know the dark side of the 5 most common pregnancy symptoms in the first trimester?

I’m officially back in action and feeling like myself again! If you didn’t hear the news of the century (pretty egotistical to call it that, BUT I’m elated enough about our big news that I’m refusing to delete what I just wrote) because I am PREGNANT! Wohooo sista! Yup, yup, there’s officially two of us behind this computer right now. One of us doesn’t even have fingerprints yet, so they won’t get any credit for this article, but the stark truth is, I’m baking a mini addition to our #catacrew and we’re pretty overjoyed.

I won’t go into details right now, but it hasn’t been the easiest road to finally announce a healthy pregnancy and to all those couples struggling out there to conceive: I hear you, understand you, and send lots of French bisous your way to get through those rough times. <3

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Eat Like a Parisian Challenge- The Struggles

The 1st month of the #eatlikeaparisian challenge is ova!! If you don’t what this riveting challenge is, I suggest you head on over to this article for all the gossip. If you do know what the challenge is, I suggest you give me a virtual clap on the back right now because im #winning. My goal for the challenge was to have more energy, feel healthier and get the skin of a prepubescence 13-year-old. After one glorious month, I’ve managed to wake up before 10 am for the first time in my life without an alarm clock, created a newfound appreciation for leafy salads, stormed the city of Paris by foot and went to work for the very first time ever without makeup on. I must say it again. #winning.

I’ve seen some really positive results out of the challenge and you can get all the behind the scenes gossip about my results here in this video with my favorite Kiwi and Parisian challenge partner in crime Rosie. I’ve  even decided to keep up the challenge for another two months to push myself even further to get healthier. But I’d be Pinocchio’s newest spawn if I told you that I managed to follow every principle of the challenge on point. I was on the Hot Mess Express more times that I can count, but I’m focused on cutting down on the repeat rides for the next two months. So, if anyone wants to hop onboard the challenge wagon, I’m going to be an absolute angel here and break down my biggest struggles and my best tips so your challenge can be smooth as silk.  If you don’t remember all the principles, check out the one pager here! And if you’re too lazy to read, you can get the dish by video below.

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Did you know these 9 differences between French and American weddings?

I’m officially turning 31 next month! Some of the things I get to look forward to in my 30’s are not just stocking up aggressively on anti-aging beauty products and ineffectively attempting to avoid the onslaught of baby product advertisements, but also participating in the top activity of my year…..wedding season bitches!

The average age of a blushing bride in the US is 28 and in France it’s 32, so I’m in the trenches when it comes to weddings right now. Lucky for me, I’m a lover of all things lurve. ♥ I get as much joy out of a sweet exchange of vows as I do from watching tiny micro-piglets chase each other on YouTube. I’m also 100% capable of crying tears of joy while watching an absolute stranger’s wedding video online, so when I know and adore the couple, my  “kim kardashian ugly cry face,” makes it’s grand debut.

In total, I’ve been to a whopping 21 weddings and I feel like that alone gives me the right to shamelessly call myself an expert on the differences between French and American weddings. But, I’ve also recently planned and participated in my own Franco-American wedding, which has to up my professional credentials a couple of points. I think we should just call it what it is and move on. Wedding expert in the house, readers!

So pin on your favorite bow tie and slide into your tallest stiletto’s. I’m going to enlighten you on some of the most striking differences between French and American weddings. Ready? Set? Allez.

Check out the corresponding video here 🙂
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Who said Frenchmen don’t get fat?

11 DAYS, 11 POUNDS

Guest writer: Robin

Hi there Americans,

Some time ago, my better half (this is just a common expression that in no way reflects the reality of the situation) asked me if I wanted to post something on her new Unintentionally Frenchified blog.

As you probably know, this delightful blog deals mainly with three topics: pizza, travels and the life of an expatriate in France.

It is essentially in this last section, that my lovely wife spends all her free time typing furiously away. Revealing intimate details of her life here in my country of birth and her country of heart (I’ve got to repeat this often to convince her). Even if I’ve always said that it would only be fair if I too completed this exercise about the US, I never actually took the plunge. If I’m going to be completely truthful, I didn’t immediately accept Kate’s invitation to guest write on her blog, despite repeated requests.

KATE EVERY TIME WE TALK ABOUT THE USA

Was it the lack of time, inspiration or maybe both, that never enabled me to overcome the anxiety of the blank sheet of paper? We’ll never know, but I recently returned from ten days in the United States for Christmas with Kate. I figured it was about time for me to turn the tables and write about what you folks mistakenly call “the best country in the world ” (no offense Kate). While the US is a country that I do quite adore, this is not, I am telling you, “the best country in the world.”  

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Eat like A Parisian Challenge

Download the snazy one pager HERE that has all the 5 principles I’ll be following during the Eat Like a Parisian Challenge!

ME. IN MY ELEMENT

I would never consider myself a full blown foodie. While I do enjoy eating for pleasure, I’m totally at the mercy of my insatiable hunger. As soon as “Hangry Hank” starts a rumblin’, I know that feeding him just became my #1 priority. Not to mention that refined food has never been my jam. I grew up surrounded by chain diners, cornfields and homemade sloppy joes. When I had the honor of choosing where we ate for dinner on my birthday, Olive Garden was the winner…11 years in a row. Endless breadsticks was literally “my thang.” I may have lived in France for the last 9 years, but I still beg my dad to pop Pillsbury biscuits in the oven when I’m home and I hit up Panera at least twice every trip to devour a bowl of broccoli and cheese soup. I’ve even gone so far as to try and recreate that famous recipe in Paris. #stillafail

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