(Photo by insideiim.com)
Every once in a while, I come across an American student online who expresses how France has less violent crimes than the USA. Not only is this incorrect, but it’s grossly incorrect. This belief that France is peaceful can led to unrealistic expectations of French life / culture and can have very negative impacts for your study abroad. How do I know this? Because I was exactly the same way. So how can a student realistically think that France is practically violent crime free? There are three main reasons: overexposure to negative American news stories, American news outlets only covering negative news stories from abroad, students not knowing the importance of following French news to gain a greater understanding of the culture and create realistic expectations of life in the hexagon. Let’s break it down one by one!
(These words are awfully familiar. Photo by www.5wpr.com)
Overexposure to negative news stories
In my early – mid teens, I witnessed the United States go through the Columbine school shootings, the September 11th attacks, and local murders / violent crimes from the comfort of my own home. Did anything positive happen in the USA from 1999-2005? If it did, no American news outlet was covering it. I know that bad news sells better, but being bombarded by only negative stories can make a person think that America is the most dangerous place on Earth.
(This is all that get covers. Photo by www.haaretz.com)
No good news from abroad
American news outlets aren’t known for always reporting foreign affairs…unless something like the Charlie Hebdo attacks happen. Since popular American news outlets aren’t covering most French events, many study abroad students aren’t getting any exposure to current French culture until something devastating happens. This is not an accurate or realistic way to learn about another culture through the news.
(What Le Monde app looks like on a tablet. Photo by blog.mobileweb.be)
The importance of following the news
Following French news daily not only helps you to improve your linguistic skills, but it will also help you find out which issues are important to French and how they handle them. This in turn creates an understanding and awareness of the host culture. By following French news from an actual French source, you’ll be preparing for life abroad in France; instead of just going by the occasional bad news story covered by American news.
So what’s the moral of the story? France is not a peaceful country. They suffer from the same violent crimes as the United States. Knowing that France is not a peaceful paradise will make sure that you don’t develop unrealistic expectations of this country (or judge the USA too harshly).
Check out these recent articles on France’s violent crimes (particularly in Marseille)