I wanted to put Japan, but while I was trying to think of what I loved about their culture, I couldn’t think of anything. I thought of maybe 1 or 2 things, but that’ wasn’t enough. So, I decided to go for a place where I was able to experience the culture first hand. I haven’t been to a lot of places so my choices are very limited.
I went on a study tour to France, specifically in Strasbourg, for a couple of weeks (and then in Paris for a few days) along with a few of my friends. If you don’t know where Strasbourg is, it’s in the north-eastern area of the country. It is literally right next to Germany. We were able to take a 20 minute bus ride from Strasbourg to Kehl, Germany! How cool is that?
What do I love about Strasbourg’s culture? Here’s my list!
1. The food. I think I can eat French food 24/7 without getting sick of it. When we stayed in Strasbourg, we had to live with our foster families. I and my housemate, Clari, stayed at this traditional, quiet, home with our very traditional, old, caring foster mom, Madame Suzanne. Here’s what we usually ate every meal:
Breakfast – bread with jam or cheese, cereal, quiche lorraine (picture bellow) (We ate breakfast at home with Mme. Suzanne),
Lunch – couscous, sausage, poulet rôti (roasted chicken), potatoes, tarte flambée (picture bellow) (We usually ate at the school where we were studying French or at restaurants in the city.)
Dinner – Salad with a different kind of cheese every time, beef/chicken/pork (Mme. Suzanne cooks it so differently, though, it tastes amazing!)
Dessert – cooked bananas with sugar, crepes with sugar, lamb shaped cakes (during Easter), yogurt!, strawberry/raspberry tarlettes
Everything listed above are the only things that I remember. (This was 2 years ago!) They served a lot of sausage because they were near the border of Germany. So, that makes sense. Yogurt was their staple desert. When we’d gather as a group, we’d always talk about what flavor of yogurt we ate the night before. Different types of quiches were always sneaking their way on they dining table. A few of my friends got sick of it 2 weeks into the trip!
2. The language. Earlier today, I attended a talk where the speaker was asking “Why did you choose to study French? Spanish? German?” All their answers sounded so profound and very scholarly. People kept saying “…because it will help me in the future”, “…because it will look nice on my resumé”. I, on the other hand, had a very shallow answer. I decided to study French because it sounds nice. (The practicability reason followed after.) But, yes. I wanted to study French because I wanted to sound like the native French speakers with their saucy accents and pouty lips. Being in France for a month made me fall in love with the language even more. I was so glad that from when my day started to when it ended, I was hearing and speaking the language.
3. The people. I know the French have this reputation of being very snotty, cold, and rude. Maybe people just stereotyped the Parisians? NO! When we were in Paris, the Parisians were nice & friendly. People from Strasbourg were even nicer & friendlier. People from both cities said their ‘bonjour’s, ‘au revoir’s and ‘merci’s. So, I have no idea why they’re stereotyped to be like that. (Help?) I never got to encounter a French person who was rude to me or to any of my friends.
4. Pâques…in French means ‘easter’. When we were in Strasbourg, we arrived before Easter Sunday. Everywhere we looked, there were giant eggs, little eggs, medium sized eggs,… just tons of eggs everywhere (picture bellow). Mme. Suzanne served Clari and I a lamb shaped cake (picture bellow) one day. She told us that it was one of their traditions to have lamb shaped cakes. It looked so cute and tasted so yummy! Now, here in the Philippines, we don’t really celebrate Easter. The closest thing that we do is have an easter egg hunt, and not everyone in the city participates. In Strasbourg, they already have set traditions, activities, foods for that specific occasion, which was nice to experience.
5. The sites. I’m sure many of you have seen pictures of the Tour Eiffel, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, or Sacré Couer. I’m going to show you the beauty that Strasbourg has to offer!
So, there you have it. Strasbourg is a small city, with cobblestone roads, a preserved history where modernity grows around it, cute little traditions and wonderful people. It’s one of those perfect European cities.
Strasbourg, France for Day #2 🙂