Tallulah from Bilingual Babes and I are swapping guest posts. Which I think is excellent as not only do I get a fresh and funny take on one of my favourite topics, culture shock, but I also get to introduce everybody reading this to someone who finds the bicultural aspect of bilingualism as fascinating as I do.
So without further ado:
Solnushka suggested I write about culture shock, which I haven’t really done before, so I was quite keen!
Although France is just next door to the UK, it’s surprising how many differences there are. The music, the food, the films, so many little differences that add up to quite a bit of culture shock! For example, in one of the kids’ French books, there is a general knowledge question aimed at children of around 6 years old: ‘When do you eat the cheese course?’ and I had no idea, not being too familiar with ‘the cheese course’! Apparently it’s usually between the main meal and desert, thank you Google 🙂
A funny gaffe that I made quite a lot when the kids first started going to French school was serving dinner during playdates. I always love it when my kids come home from a playdate already having had dinner and ready for the bath! So I was quite surprised to find that Schmoo was coming back from playdates, not only not having been served dinner, but having been given a large dose of cake instead, so that she no longer wanted to eat any dinner! I also didn’t understand why the French mums were looking at me strangely when I proudly informed them that their child had already had dinner when they came to collect them from a playdate at our house!
After a few months of this, the penny finally dropped. Like most other English kids, mine have a small snack when I collect them from school, maybe a piece of fruit or a biscuit, which they usually eat in the car on the way home. This way, they are ready for dinner around 5.30pm, which gives me time to get them in the bath for 6pm and in bed by 7pm. But the French take their food a bit more seriously! The after-school snack, known as a goûter, is a very big deal! Out come the hot chocolate and the madeleines, out come the pain au chocolats and the brioches, and it’s a sit-down affair with a good half hour dedicated to it! They can do this because dinner is not served until around 8pm, usually after the bath. So now I serve a proper goûter on playdates with French kids and am no longer ‘the weird English mum’… or maybe I am, but at least I get the meals right!
I must say, I could get very into the goûter myself, and certainly into this Guest Posting business. Consider this an open invitation for anyone interested in writing something about culture shock to contact me at s underscore solnushka dot yahoo dot co dot uk.