Repose Among the Hustle and Bustle

C'est la vie.

I must say, the French know how to live well—how to work, how to play and how to party.

For the couple of weeks that I have been in Europe now, I think the biggest difference that has stuck out to me is how calm and together people are here.

They go to work, go to the grocery store, pick up their dry cleaning and eat dinner with their families,just like Americans do, yet they are not in a hurry and they still manage somehow to get things done.

I definitely think Americans could take a page from their book.

The first day I ventured out to get groceries, on a Sunday, I was really confused because nothing was open. Here in France, Sunday really is a day of rest.

Then later that week, I began to notice a pattern.

The shops and businesses —even the post office! — also close during lunchtime, which I thought was odd. I began to wonder how people get any errands done here because they can't even use their lunch
breaks (which are two hours, by the way) to do them.

At home, I work three jobs while maintaining a full-time load at my college. So needless to say, my life is
pretty hectic.

My days are filled from start to finish with running around. And I often don't have time to cook dinner
for myself either so usually I have to get fast food or forgo dinner.

Which is another big faux pas in France.

There are only a handful of fast-food restaurants in Perpignan, which I thought was really annoying at
first, but now I realize it's good because it's breaking some of my bad food habits. This dearth of quick
food options forces me to take some time out of the day for myself, sit down and really enjoy a meal.

Bon appétit.

Every meal here is a unique experience, while in America eating tends to be centered on convenience.
The relaxation that Americans look forward to on vacation Europeans get to experience every day.
I'm jealous! I don't want to have to go back next month to all of the everyday hustle and bustle without
a break!

In fact, maybe all of this rest is why Europeans, particularly the French, tend to live longer and healthier
lives than Americans. Well that, and maybe the lack of fast food.

According to a 2009 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the
French spend more time eating and sleeping than those surveyed in any other nation. In France, people
spend more than 2 hours eating and drinking each day, nearly twice as much as Americans or Canadians.

Overall, I would say I have welcomed the opportunity to try new foods and "sample" some of the repose
this country has to offer; I look forward to taking in a lot more in upcoming weeks.

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About the Program

Fifteen college students came from North America to Perpignan, France, in June 2011 to produce these videos and stories. To find out more, read a welcome letter from program director Rachele Kanigel, meet the program faculty and explore the 2010 website.