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Difference Between French and American Schools

Living in France has been quite an experience for me. I have been able to experience a different culture, language, people — it’s been incredible. I wouldn’t change it for the world. One major thing that living here has opened my eyes to is the differences between the countries – France & America. No country is perfect, absolutely not. And I’m not here to trash either of them. I actually love them both. I did think it would be interesting to take note of the differences and let you make of it what you will. 🙂

Since that can cover a lot of ground, I thought I would start with the difference between French and American schools. My older son, who is 7 years old, has been going to French school since he was three. He has spent 1 semester in American Kindergarten and a couple months in an American preschool. Other than that, I don’t have a ton of experience with the American school system as a mother. So what I write here will be mostly my experiences with a French school & my opinion on the subject.

difference between French and american schools

Schedule

EXPERIENCE: My kids go to school four days a week for 3 hours in the morning starting at 9:00 am. They have a lunch break at 12:00 pm for two hours. We return to school at 1:30 so that my little guy can get ready for his nap at school but there is an option to return at 2:00. They continue school until 5:00 pm. They have a two-week break every 6 weeks, in October, December, Feb/March and April/May. Then they also have two months for summer (School is the beginning of September to the beginning of July).

They never have school on Wednesdays but will start having school Wednesday mornings next year (new law). Since sports/extracurricular activities and school are entirely separate here in France, the majority of French families take this time to involve their kids in other things. There are no after-school sports/activities that I am aware of here (although in other cities I know they have them). My son plays basketball and has practice Wednesday morning for an hour and a half and a game on Saturday. That’s it. My younger one plays as well but only has practice Saturday morning for an hour.

OPINION: I don’t particularly love the daily schedule. I have to either put my kids in school for eight hours a day (which is a lot for a 3 year old!) or interrupt my day to go get them for a couple hours. However, it is actually kind of neat that there is an option. I mean, I love that we can still have that time to have lunch together and yet they still get to be in school learning & with their friends. I don’t know if maybe France isn’t a very active or busy country (it sure seems like it) but I like that the schedules aren’t chaotic. You don’t often see families racing from one activity to the next. They take family time and meal time very seriously here and make efforts to make sure they have them. I think that’s rather cool.

I love the two weeks off every 6 weeks. It’s just enough to take some time, relax, regroup, and get ready to conquer it all again. Personally, it’s great for everyone. I’m sure it’s a ton harder if you work full time, but they do have a lot of activities available during those weeks.

Food at a French School

EXPERIENCE: Parents have the options to keep their kid in school all day for lunch which is called “cantine” or pick them up and eat at home. You cannot pack a lunch for your child. It depends on the city, but where we live now it costs 2,50€ for a cantine lunch (approximately $3.45). However, the lunch consists of a full 3-course meal with meat, vegetables, side dishes and a dessert which is usually fresh fruit or yogurt. Once a month they get fries and once a month they get something that I would actually consider a dessert.

OPINION: I love the food options here. Absolutely love it. My kids eat things at school that I would never think to prepare at home. And they eat it! They have had lamb, fish, green beans, vegetable soup, chicken, duck. It’s really great! I love that the French take food seriously. In fact, ketchup isn’t in schools here because they feel like it “hides the true flavor of the food.” I know, us Americans are thinking “well, ya, that’s the point!” But they are truly making an effort here to expose their kids to different kinds of food and actually teach them to enjoy it, not just nuggets, burgers, and pizzas on a weekly rotation.

Class Parties

EXPERIENCE: Well, this is at least what I have experienced. They do not do class parties here like in America. They celebrate the seasons and holidays but incorporating it into the learning schedule. For example, for April Fools Day called “Poisson d’avril” here (April Fish translated) they memorized a poem. Same for spring arriving. For Valentine’s Day I sent my kids with nothing to school (we don’t really do V’day personally) and he came back with nothing. Didn’t even mention it. For Christmas, no shows, no class parties, no desserts and candies. Just some fun pictures & lessons incorporating ‘Le Pere Noel.’

OPINION: I also LOVE this too. I think Americans have taken holidays over the top. I’m not a super celebrator to begin with, but 100 days of school, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Valentine’s Day, Halloween… etc. etc. etc! How do parents keep up? I don’t know what it is with Americans taking everything over the top, but I personally prefer a more relaxed approach to these types of things.

Awards

EXPERIENCE: When my son was in Kindergarten in America I remember there was a little awards ceremony for the students. I was so proud because they said that my little dude was getting an award! Gosh, I’m so proud, he’s such a good little student. Then, come to find out, every student gets an award at some point in the year. It has nothing to do with what they’re doing in school. Um, okay. In French school, when my 3-year-old or another kid in his class does something they’re proud of and brings it to the teacher, the teacher says, “Very nicely done. You did a good job.” There’s no “WOW!! Super!! You’re so talented!! Amazing!!” They are encouraged, but it’s not over the top.

OPINION: I love this! I don’t know why we feel like we have to give every kid an award for just showing up to school, but it’s a little much. Now, I do understand that kids have different talents in different areas. One might have more of a math mind and one might be really artistic. Competing for the same award would be unfair depending on the award. But maybe offer a variety of awards that would suit many personality types but still have them limited so they have to be earned. Just a thought. It’s okay to let our kids experience not winning at everything because heck, that’s life.

Education

EXPERIENCE: So far this year they are learning to read and memorizing different poems and such. They do quite a bit of writing as well and start off writing in cursive. They have a very specific way to write here.  As far as math goes, they are adding two columns by putting the numbers side by side. He learned to add the same way I did by putting the numbers on top of each other and carrying over the number, etc. etc. They have started learning English a little bit in class but not a ton.

OPINION: I don’t have much of an opinion here because I don’t have much to compare it to. It doesn’t seem all that advanced to me, but I feel like he is definitely learning things. He can read in French and English now although the English part we did at home. That is one thing I really wish we did in America. I really wish we taught our children a second language from a young age. It’s such a shame that Americans are so far behind in the ‘learning another language’ game.

Here are some snap shots of his school work.

Math:

French math work French work French:

French reading work Art:

French school art work

Another difference that I feel like I have seen on an academic level is that here they have more of an international mindset. They are learning about Africa and its music and culture. I absolutely love exposing my kids to new things like that to show them what an amazing world we live in. They also have studied painting (like the picture above) and visiting the artist’s paintings that was displayed at the city hall. My son loved it!

Well, sheesh, that’s a lot of info! All in all, so far I prefer the French school system. There are things that I don’t prefer, the long days for example, but it’s lovely only rushing to school four days a week. Seriously, that day off really makes a difference! I also really do love the vacations they get. It’s refreshing and when we’re done we’re both ready to get back into the swing of things and go hard in school!

I would really love to hear your thoughts, questions, comments! Leave it in the comments below, I always answer! I would also love to hear your experiences with your school, whether it’s American, French or otherwise. We can always learn from each other!

51 Responses to Difference Between French and American Schools

  1. Nancy April 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    Thanks for this! It was so interesting to read!! Love the lunch part. lamb? Never at our school. I also agree with the awards. Kids get too many. I like the Frech way!

    • Natalia April 9, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      Yes, the lunch choices always blow me away! But I love it because heck, they probably get a healthier lunch here at school than at home! I like the French way too, so far so good!

      • Bryanna December 1, 2016 at 10:36 am #

        I love how you are telling everyone your own life experiences this is very useful especially when you are typing an essay

  2. Erin April 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    I found this post to be really interesting! I teach ESL in the American school system (and I have taught English at an after school program in south Korea). Student days are 8-4 pm, four days a week. I wish that sporting events were as emphasised here or that they wouldn’t be connected to the school. Don’t get me wrong though, I think that sporting teams can teach children a lot of great skills, but it shouldn’t be all consuming. I too wish that the United States put more emphasis on multilingualism. They don’t so I have taken it into my own hands. I’m teaching my son Spanish.

    • Natalia April 9, 2014 at 11:02 am #

      It sounds like an exciting adventure, South Korea & all! Interesting they have a similar schedule. Maybe it works? We love sports and are a very sports oriented family, but I really don’t want it to ever take over our lives. I want my son to excel as he wants to, but not have it define him. So far so good here, but then again, that’s probably the same in America at this age – he’s 7. I love what sports can teach a child, whether or not they are talented isn’t an issue, but team work, listening to a coach etc. I also absolutely LOVE that you’re teaching your son Spanish! He will most definitely thank you later. You’re an excellent mom!

  3. anonymous April 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    I used to travel quit a bit and one thing I noticed is that whenever someone would get back from a trip I would hear I don’t know why Americans do this. Or why do American’s have to be this way. And I always wanted to say you know you are American right? I felt that way reading through your post today. Especially when you said I don’t know why Americans have to be so over the top. I wonder, would people say, I don’t know why the French have to be so uppity? Or why do the Germans drink so much beer? Maybe they do say it and I just never hear it. I guess for me, in the same way I would never go online and call my hubby stupid, I wouldn’t diss my country either. I’m proud to be American. But that it’s just my take so feel free to disregard.

    • Natalia April 9, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      I totally understand what you’re saying. And I didn’t think I trashed America at all. I don’t like that Americans are over the top. I also don’t like that the French are naturally rude. I don’t like that they don’t work very hard and service isn’t a top priority. However, this was a post about the school system and I happen to be mostly impressed with the French school system. I did mention that I don’t like the long days as well. As I also stated in the post, there is no perfect country and I love my country. I am American and definitely proud to be. However, I don’t think America is perfect and I do believe there are some things we could learn from France. And most definitely vice versa. I am sure you won’t read this comment because you commented anonymously, but if you ever come back, comment with your real name. I’m a big girl and can take someone disagreeing with me. I enjoy the conversation and am more than willing to reevaluate the way I look at things when presented a good argument. I happen to disagree with you here but that’s what makes the world go round, isn’t it?

    • Whitney @ Journey Mercies April 10, 2014 at 2:22 am #

      I think the reason people come back to America and say, Why do Americans do this or that? is because when you travel, your eyes get opened to the way other countries and cultures do things. When you’re in America, you don’t think about those things. And trust me, as an expat, there’s PLENTY about my host country that baffles me! But I also have learned new ways of living that have made me a better person, that I wouldn’t have learned if I’d never lived overseas. I know I’m American, and it’s ok to stop and wonder why we do things a certain way, and try to learn from other cultures.

      Natalia, loved this post! It was so interesting. If I ever homeschool my kids, I might have to adopt the French school schedule. 🙂 And it reminded me of the book French Kids Don’t Throw Food – sounds like it was pretty on point!

      • Natalia April 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

        Yes, you said it exactly. Just because I don’t agree entirely with everything my country does, doesn’t mean I’m not proud to be American. But, like you said, it’s opened up my eyes to a whole new world that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen without living here. I think it’s healthy to look around you and see how things could be done differently etc. Thanks for the support as a fellow expat! 🙂

  4. Ida April 8, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    Wow I think I like French school. My son is in first grade and your son is way more advanced. I like the break for lunch idea. My son would really enjoy that. I agree with you on the “learning a second language” part. My son speaks both English and Spanish and is begging me to learn another language but he knows because we taught him at home. I believe schools in America could bring in a more international aspect to their teaching also!

    • Natalia April 9, 2014 at 10:50 am #

      That is so amazing! Are you or your husband a native spanish speaker? I love that you guys did that, it’s incredible. I don’t know if we would have made the effort if we didn’t live here, well we probably wouldn’t have, but I’m so glad we did. And now I am motivated to add another language for him, Spanish, hopefully starting soon. I mean, what an amazing gift to have languages with little to no extra effort!! I know it’s a ton of effort for me and I will never speak like him!! I would love if America did broaden their international aspect, like you said.

  5. Jenny April 8, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    My kids have gone to school in 3 different countries (on 3 different continents actually!). I love that they’ve been exposed other types of schooling. How interesting that your son does his math work in pen- That’s something I haven’t seen before. Thanks for sharing and letting us peek into life as a French student.

    • Natalia April 9, 2014 at 10:47 am #

      I am so interested to hear your story and why they’ve gone to school in three different countries/continents and what you’re experience has been! It sounds super fascinating!! Yes, he does it in pen and says it’s okay. It’s weird to me too, but I’m assuming that if there was something wrong with it the teacher would have corrected him by now. Who knows?!

  6. @nateiv_sa (S. AfricanGuy) April 9, 2014 at 5:10 am #

    Ah, France

    Some of the things that I found interesting when I was in Paris (2013):
    1. The Orient love Old Paris. Sailing down Le Seine, they comprised 95% of tourists on board. I was the 0.1% darkie.
    2. Parisians LOVE their coffee. Rationed in small dosages, though; here in S. Africa it’s an insult to offer a guest coffee in such a…gamine ceramic thingy.
    3. Good taste in music (their restaurants/cafes at least). Bublé-esque, 70ish sound, in English no less, cooed in almost every restaurant we went to, and
    4. Whatever you order is accompanied by water-filled flask.

    Well, these were some of quirks, among other things. Anyhoo, below is a link to the first chapter/s of my unruly WIP I mentioned earlier here on MM:

    https://app.box.com/s/eccsdcucyisztmj14a8j

    “An interracial social and political commentary set in a Bloemfontein University (S. African birthplace for J.R.R Tolkien) with checkered pasts of unsavoury racial clamours. A hint of even a wisp of smoke from its campus generates a lot of international ink.

    Both belong to a generation of Born Free (thinkers), but are from completely different backgrounds. She’s a control freak, and political correctness isn’t quite her strong suite. True to type, quiscence is his mantuary.

    Thanks for your blog I sorta, kinda, in a way managed to mould a female White protagonist.

    Enjoy France you and yours!

    • Natalia April 9, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Love those things about France too! Thanks for link too, can’t wait to check it out.

  7. Nell April 9, 2014 at 5:27 am #

    So interesting to hear this! Our oldest is only almost 4, but I often wonder about how the different educational systems work. I studied in France as a teen for a summer and then worked there a summer in law school and LOVE French everything. The entire culture is different and it sounds like that really shows even in the approach to little kiddos’ school.

    What a great adventure you’re having! Enjoying following it!

    • Natalia April 9, 2014 at 10:41 am #

      I totally agree with you, I love most everything about being here. The laid back lifestyle, the joie de vivre, the food, just the culture in general. The schools systems are prooving impressive to me although I’m sure they’re imperfect as well! I am thankful we’ve gotten this opportunity to see both places and try to work on what is best for our kids. Thanks for commenting, I love hearing from people!

  8. Hannah Atkinson April 9, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    I love this blog post!! I normally just read your posts but don’t always comment. But I had to comment on this one!

    I was home schooled all all my life and while I didn’t always love everything that came a long with that, I did love the education that I got. My mom took her time with me and gave the individualized attention that both my sister and I needed. I know that it isn’t feasible for every mom to do this, so I’m not saying this is the best for everyone. My mom didn’t praise me for every little thing I did (or didn’t) do but she always let me know she was proud of me! She encouraged me to learn to read and took her time with me while I did learn. She knew that math wasn’t my strong point and did her best to get me to retain the basics (27 years old and I’m still bad at math…haha). I grew to appreciate discipline like that and I believe it’s what has shaped the person I am today. I realize that I have to work for things, that I need to apply myself and some times, I won’t be good at something! Which is okay!! I’m about to get married and have been having the education talk with my fiance (for our future kids). He was raised in public school, his mom taught in public school and he ALWAYS thought home schoolers were from another planet. I, on the other hand, am definitely in support of home schooling and don’t feel so hot about public schooling. So we’ll see how things go when we have kids! 🙂

    I also love that French schools give the kids a two hour lunch break. I personally think that family time is the single MOST important thing that a kid can have. It’s what defines them and shapes them. Simple things like a lunch break with family can make a huge different.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Natalia!

    • Natalia April 9, 2014 at 10:39 am #

      Oh I am so glad you liked it! I feel ya on being bad at math, my son’s homework is already making me think! Just a few more grades and I’ll be handing it off to my husband for help! I think homeschooling is a great idea although I don’t know if I could ever do it, I do respect the mothers that do. It’s no small feat!! I’m not huge on the public school system in America, but if our kids will attend there (we are planning on it for a little while when we’re done with France for now) I plan on doing extra work outside of the home to make sure he’s still up to par. That’s what we did when he did one semester in Kindergarten in America, we did reading on our own at home and now he reads in both languages! I think anything can work it just depends on the family and the effort put into it. No one thing is bad and different things work for different families! Thanks for taking the time to comment, I love hearing from people!

  9. The Domestic Fringe April 9, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    So interesting. It’s really cool that they expose kids to so many different foods, and I’m with you on the holiday/party thing. It can get way over the top here. Where I live, the school system does try to reflect the community, so because it’s a less wealthy area, they keep things to a minimum and I really appreciate that.

    Sounds like you have a great thing going on. It’s awesome that your kids can read in French and English. Wish I could that!
    ~FringeGirl

    • Natalia April 9, 2014 at 10:34 am #

      I do love the food thing, that’s for sure! And the party holiday thing but mainly because I’m an underachiever! That’s cool about your school system though, I would love that!

  10. Althea April 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    I think it is so interesting to see the differences. It’s always good to remember that there isn’t just one way of doing things. I really like the idea of the breaks every 6 weeks! One thing I love about our school district is that they start teaching our kids Chinese in Kindergarten and add Spanish in 1st grade. I agree that it is so beneficial to learn languages early!

    • Natalia April 13, 2014 at 6:46 am #

      Oh my goodness, that’s incredible!! I would do everything I could to stay in that school system, what an amazing thing! I totally agree, it’s good to remember there is more than one way to do things and that no one/country is perfect!

  11. Alison April 14, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    As a Canadian, teaching and living in Kuwait, I really appreciated reading about your school day in France. I wrote a post last year about teaching in Kuwait. Most of it is still quite accurate (now that it’s a year and a bit later!). http://lublink.org/alison/?p=4023 Thought you might be interested.

    • Natalia April 15, 2014 at 6:45 am #

      Thanks for sharing, I’m going to check it out. It’s definitely fun to check out new things & learn how other countries do things!

  12. Macey April 15, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    That’s pretty interesting…big differences.
    I definitely see shades of the new “Common Core” curriculum with the math.
    And the international mindset is something we are incorporating more. The problem with that here in America is simply that they are literally re-writing or doing away with American history and things altogether and using the “global community” as the standard the kids all need to strive to be a part of. Little disheartening when they aren’t learning what makes America the country that we are.
    Does France make sure to celebrate France also?

    • Natalia April 17, 2014 at 3:05 am #

      Tae hasn’t gotten much into the history of France, but funny enough in the language courses that I am taking at the University they make the foreigners take a French history class. It’s entirely about the history of France and the main points of what brought them here today. We have studied Joan of Arc, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Louis 14 & 16, and Charles de Gaulle. It’s pretty interesting. The professor has said that these are the people that kids study as well, so I assume in the next couple years Tae will start that. French are a very proud people and proud of their country so I imagine that’s incorporated quite a bit. I am curious to see how school will be when we get back to the states and how my kids will do with the transition.

  13. MJ April 25, 2014 at 3:13 am #

    Hi Natalia,
    just discovered your blog through Get Your Pretty On, can’t wait to take the time to read some more!
    As a française who know the US pretty well, I always love reading such blog posts.
    Ok, off to read some more, looking forward to it!

    MJ in Auvergne

    • Natalia April 25, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

      So glad you did! So fun you’re a Frenchie 🙂 I like writing about it too, I find other cultures so interesting! Glad to have you here, thanks for commenting!

  14. HappinessSavouredHot June 7, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    Fascinating comparison. I was born and spent most of my life in Canada, but I went to French school (in an African French colony, Senegal) for 3 years. It was different: more emphasis on humanities and literature, less on math and science. The teaching style was more traditional and the teachers less nice. Both systems are good, just different! 🙂

    • Natalia June 8, 2014 at 11:18 am #

      Yes, they actually teach a lot about African culture in my son’s French school, believe it or not! It’s interesting though and my son has loved it. So far I am happy with the French school system!

  15. Karen June 19, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    There is another aspect to the French perspective on education that I must add to your post. And this is a study published by a reputable entity Psychology Today about the difference between French and American children and the number that are diagnosed with ADHD. “The bottom line is that in the US behavioral issues are treated as a biological disorder with biological causes so the preferred treatment is biological – psycho stimulant medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall. The French, on the other hand, view ADHD as a condition with social and situational causes. Instead of treating children’s lack of focus and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for underlying issues that is causing the child distress – not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context.” We in America definitely need to learn from the French on this one: http://hellohealthnewsletter.com/why-french-kids-dont-have-adhd/

    • Natalia June 20, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      Oh yes, I so much agree! I don’t have a kid with ADHD, although neither have ever been tested, but I do think that a lot of the cases here in the States are diagnosed when there could have been another alternative. I also think it’s over diagnosed. My kids both have a lot of energy and if I took them to a doctor, they would probably diagnose that. But we choose not to and deal with behavioral issues at home. Great example!

  16. Sarah June 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    I just stumbled across this and I love it! I’m a French teacher here in the States and I love finding blogs about people’s experience living in France. I like to use these in the classroom. I look forward to reading more and more!
    merci mille fois!

    • Natalia June 21, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      Oh so neat!! My aunt was a French teacher for 30 something years and loved it. I would love to teach eventually, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be that good. Fluency is really hard! I mean, I’m conversationally, but all the grammar and all that is especially hard with French! Let’s keep in touch!

  17. LeAnn June 22, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    I’ve lived in France for 10 years and have had the great opportunity to watch my kids thrive in the French system. We spent 6 months back in the States in 2008, and I was shocked by the lack of rigor in their schooling. So when I say things like that, it isn’t because I’m “dissing” my country but because there are things that some places do better than others. There are many things I prefer in the US, and there are other things I prefer in France. And I think it’s a shame that if someone criticizes something in the US, that person is accused of not respecting their country. So good job pointing out the differences and commenting on what you think. It is important to point out problems, so they can be solved!!!

    • Natalia June 23, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      I completely agree! I didn’t want to write this post to ‘bash’ the American school system. But I am allowed to have an opinion, and yes, I think it could be better! So far I have been really impressed with the French school system and a lot of things about the French. It doesn’t mean I hate America, I love a lot of things about America! But as you pointed out, we all can learn from each other! Thanks for your comment, I always love hearing from people with similar experiences!

  18. Sarah July 10, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    Love this! His school sounds very much like my son’s Montessori preschool. We love the structure, learning about different cultures, art and the lack of over the top holiday/seasonal celebrations, that characterize his school. Thanks for sharing. I just discovered your blog and love it!

    • Natalia July 10, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      So glad that you did! It has been an amazing experience for us to see. I hope I don’t get caught up in all the holiday stuff when we’re back in the States. In fact, I know I won’t I’m just not that kind of mom. So glad to have experienced another culture, it’s opened my eyes!

  19. maureen July 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    I really enjoy your blog and your photos of the school work. I too, spend 2 years in France with kids in school. I enjoy your pros and cons. It’s not easy but it’s a fun experience and I”m glad your family got to do this. Do you have a tutor for homework? Or even a translator for school letters etc?

    email me anytime, I’d love to chat

    • Natalia July 13, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

      Yes, it’s been a great experience for sure. I don’t have a translator, I can speak French and if I need help I usually ask the other moms at school. I also am friends with the directrice at school. She’s been very helpful. I also love to hear from people who’ve lived in similar situations. Are you back in the States now? Do you speak French? I’d love to hear more! 🙂

  20. Stephanie September 15, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    Hi!
    It is so fun to read about your experiences in France. I found your blog through pinterest and didn’t realize until I looked around more that you were living in France! I just married a Frenchie who I met while I was living in Paris after college. We have had many discussions about the type of schools we would want to put our kids in – we like certain aspects of each system so we’ll have to see how things go when we get to that point. (we’re back in the US for now, but I’m itching to head back to France) It’s really nice that you have the choice of picking your kids up or having them go to the cantine! That wasn’t the case in the town where I was a nanny. Also – kudos to you for working to learn French! I had quite a few friends over there who didn’t bother and totally regretted it later. I can’t wait to see more posts from you about life in France – they’re the perfect way to keep looking forward to the day we are back over there 🙂

    • Natalia September 24, 2014 at 1:17 am #

      Thank you! Yes, living here has been quite an experience, but such a good one. I am so thankful I’ve gotten it! So exciting you guys will move back someday, I’m a bit jealous! We will eventually leave here to make our home in California someday. I know I will miss it here terribly! That’s why I’m trying to live it up while I can! I’m going to try to write more about living in France too, so stay tuned!

  21. Tina February 8, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    I agree that traveling really opens your eyes. I have learned while traveling to Latvia, Czech, Germany, France, Italy and Haiti that different cultures have different priorities. I have learned from every place I have visited, including in the States. I have lived West Coast, East Coast and Texas (my favorite!). I have enjoyed how much the Italians love living in the moment, observed how the French and Italians take food and dining with friends and family seriously, observed how Germans seem to hate their jobs, observed how the French seem depressed on the Metro, felt how much Latvians love their country and their freedom, how Haitians despite their circumstances have a tremendous amount of hope and joy. I’m also aware how Europeans support families more as they give parents generous time off from work the first year a child is born to support bonding. I have learned that all of the other cultures I observed rank experiences and relationships higher than chasing material objects. They spend more time as a family, Germany devotes Sundays to hiking with the kids, don’t eat in front of the TV, aren’t chasing a bigger house, car, TV etc, travel a lot, spend quality time with friends and family. There is a lot Americans can learn from traveling and I think that is the point isn’t it? Love your blog!

    • Natalia February 9, 2015 at 8:39 am #

      Thank you! I completely agree, there is so much Americans can learn from travel, unfortunately a lot of people don’t want to learn. Or it’s hard to because it takes so much effort to leave the country. Meaning – you can fly 5 hours in each direction (on the west coast) and still be in the States!! But even if people can’t travel, we should be open to new cultures and ideas. I am so thankful that we’ve gotten the chance. I will never be the same because of it!

  22. LK March 7, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    Hello !

    Your blog is really nice and fun to read ! I was born and raised in Paris, and have lived 3 years and the half in England. I came back 10 months ago but still have trouble adjusting =p ..
    It is a very interesting take you have on the French Schooling system, though you might want to moderate the “national” side to it. If there are of course national laws, there can (like in any countries I imagine, even more so in a huge one like America 😉 ) drastic differences according to where you live. I grew up in Paris, so my take is very different. Like London, Paris is not so representative of the country, it is quite peculiar. In good and bad ways. I love France, but do not plan to remain here (grow old here), however, it is always wonderful to here people having a great time here.

    I do not think that your statement is just for Americans, I think that you have those people everywhere : the content in not looking at differences as a possible way to learn great things.
    I wish everybody could have the will and possibility to take at least one year off somewhere, outside your country and comfort zone. I am sure it would teach so many acceptance and perspective.

    I hope that your family keep on having a great experience here =).

    Stumbled in your blog typing “living in 2 countries”, as I wish to live between England and Japan for a while, and then settle in Japan for good. All the best =)!

    • Natalia March 12, 2015 at 3:35 am #

      I completely agree! I think the difference is that people in Europe get to travel more and experience other cultures because it’s so close. In America it is difficult because it’s so hard to leave our country. Meaning that it’s so big! I live in LA and I could fly 5 hours in both directions and still be in America. I think traveling opens your mind and when you don’t do it you have more of a closed idea of what things should be like. Anyway, thanks for your input! It’s always fun to hear a French person’s perspective!

  23. Sunny London October 10, 2015 at 1:03 am #

    No class parties? Blasphemy! 😉 I really enjoyed reading this, as I was an assistant principal in New York for 7 years and now live in London. I wrote about the British and American school differences on my blog and see many similiarties between French and British schools through this post. It seems food is definitely better on this side of the pond! I’d really love to have you guest on ‘Expat Chat’ on Blab.im to talk about your expat experience. Maybe I can organise one about schools or raising children as expats? Let me know if you’re interested. I’m on Twitter @sunny_in_london 🙂

    • Natalia October 28, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

      Hi! Yes, definitely write me an e-mail about it, that could be great! Food is definitely better in France but mostly we try to enjoy the differences! It’s been fun adjusting!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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