For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

So What's the Difference?

I've been back in the United States for almost a couple of weeks now. The initial pain of leaving and the disorientation of arriving in a new place is slowly fading. One of the most common questions I am asked is what the difference is between France and the United States. It is a surprisingly difficult question to answer because the list is long and ranges from the profound to the silly.

  • There is much more water in American toilets than in French toilets. Why?
  • The people in the US love to chat. This includes clerks in stores who treat you like long-lost friends...which is both nice and kinda strange when you think about it.
  • I never saw what Americans call "French bread" in France. The same goes for "French dressing."
  • Despite the fact that America is a nation of immigrants, French society (as experienced in Strasbourg) seems more integrated.
  • Bottomless cups of coffee are one of the greatest blessings of living in America.
  • Americans eat really fast. Supper is at 6:00. Goûter is all day long.
  • France knows how to do cheese. America knows how to do meat.
  • In America, gas is currently about $2.50 a gallon. That's $0.66 (0.58€) per litre. In France, it is about 1.52€ per litre. For the mathematically challenged, that means it's about 3x more expensive in France.
  • Americans drive everywhere. The French walk or take public transportation.
  • In France, I passed 2 incredible bakeries as I walked to the supermarket.
  • In France, people gave me strange looks when I said I was a pastor. In America, they want to know what time the services are because they might come to church. 
  • American food is too salty.
  • American pizza is better.
  • In France, the old buildings are older than the country of the United States by several centuries.
  • In France, for some strange reason they call soccer football. Of course, the rest of the world does, too. 
  • The odds of getting Americans to adopt the metric system are better than the odds of getting them to call soccer football.
  • The Super Bowl was watched by 160 million people mostly in the United States. The World Cup was watched by over a billion people around the world. In other words, football is much more popular than football.
  • I spent the day surrounded by hundreds of other people at a high school sporting event. I did not hear a single word spoken in a language other than English. Any given day in Strasbourg I would hear French, German, Alsatian, English, and Arabic along with a mix of others!
  • Americans smile more.
  • The French are careful to greet each person individually when entering a room.  
  • There is always plenty of parking in the US.
  • Free public education stops at 12th grade in the US. Why?
  • In a French restaurant, a glass of wine usually costs less than a bottle of water.
  • When invited to dinner, Americans usually show up "on time." The French typically show up at least 15 minutes late.
  • Americans are much louder.
  • The French greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. Americans shake hands.
  • In France, the milk is on the shelf in the supermarket. In the US, the milk is in the refrigerators.
  • In France, the eggs are brown and sometimes have feathers. In the US, they are white and appear to have been power-washed.
  • Internet and cellphone plans are much cheaper in France. So is medical care.
  • Laptops are cheaper in the US. 
  • The US is air-conditioned. France is not. 
  • Taxes are included in the prices in France. They are added at the checkout in the US. 
  • Roundabouts are everywhere in France. GPS: "Go straight through 11 roundabouts..."
  • French people think fruit is a dessert. Americans think it is a salad.
  • In France, my Peugeot 206 was tiny which was good because parking spots were small. In the US I drive a mini-van which is fine because the parking spots are huge.
  • When driving in the US, I watch out for deer. In France, I watch out for bicycles.
The list goes on and on. My five years in France have changed me. My wife read this list and said she thought it "tilted toward the French." I suppose that is because I am still in transition and missing things that enjoyed in France while America is familiar. I am glad to be an American, but I now know that France is also a wonderful place to live.
The reality is that when I am in France I miss the US and when I am in the US I miss France.
I guess that means I am a pilgrim on a journey to another place that will really feel like home.

1 comment:

  1. I love your concluding thought. An extended sojourn changes one’s perspective on “home.” It makes one long for “a better country,” n’est pas, mon frère?