(This is where French laws are made. Photo by: www.axellelemaire.eu)
It’s election season here in the USA which means that the airwaves are buzzing with political talk. No matter what news outlet you tune into, you’ll hear disparaging remarks about the opposing party and its views. I came across an interesting article yesterday in The New York Times by David Brooks titled Why Partyism is Wrong. It’s an intriguing article that sheds some great cultural insight on how Americans view and talk politics. Most Americans know that unless your friends have the same political beliefs as you, it’s best to not discuss them to avoid major arguments. In the USA, I have my 3 no-no subjects that I refuse to talk about with friends, co-workers and many members of my family. Those hot button topics to be avoided at all costs are politics, race and religion. In the USA loved ones can quickly turn against each other just for having a different view point. In my family alone, politics had to be a banned at family get togethers because things would get so vulgar and argumentative.
(A typical conversation in American congress. Photo by: www.zimbio.com)
Coming from this highly polar, politicized culture, I was shocked the first time I was around French people discussing politics- the topic the French love to discuss most. There was no yelling, no cursing, no name calling, no fist pounding on the table. It was just people expressing their different beliefs. No one left the conversation in ill spirits and having less respect for the other person. Now, this doesn’t mean that French disagreements can’t get heated. If your family was one of the rare ones that could discuss politics in a calm manner than you may be shocked by some French mannerisms when discussing politics. Check out this video by Comme Une Française on the ins and outs of French disagreements. Anyhoo, compared to Americans, the French know how to have a healthy discussion on politics that is refreshing and friendlier.
(This is more like it- talking politics French style. www.shutterstock.com)
Since you’ve been following French news at least 6 months prior to going abroad, you’ll be able to jump into these political debates. The neat thing is in France, college aged students also get in the spirit of political debates. It’s not just a parent or grandparent thing. This is a great opportunity to partake in a favorite French pastime- talking politics- while improving your French and learning more about the culture.