A Brief Examination of Culture From My Trip To France (Travel Blog)

So spanning across hundreds of nations and thousands of communities full of diverse individuals that contrive and accumulatively influence intricate societies, there are standards of living and common perceptions about ways of life, right and wrong, smart and dumb, good humor, fashion, social status, attractiveness, sociability, music, art, relationships, etc., that all change and fluctuate according primarily to region.

The term “culture” engulfs a wide range of prevalently shared concepts, attitudes, ideas, impressions, artistic value, and social value according to where you are in the world. Of course, we should not take for granted the value the of the individual. But there is an on-going, self-propelling cycle that takes place everywhere we go. Most, if not all of us are inevitably influenced by our enviroments to some degree or another. The average person sees what’s presented and promoted in the world around them, engages heavily in social media, indulges in popular mainstream media. It is from sources like these that we are supplied the latest in how we should think, look, and act. But it is those who are ultimately influenced by these ascendancies that commence and perpetuate them to begin with. Thus, there exists a profound, complex, dynamic cultural cycle that occurs in every part of the world. There is great value and power and diversity with individualism, but being this far into human existence and established society, we a collectively create and become motivated by popular culture.

The change of culture by region can also be significant. It is not only individuals who influence popular lifestyles; we must also take into account tradition and globalization. In many cultures, particularly in those that are more remote, tradition is the primary influence. While in more populated and popular areas, generations are more interested in breaking free of established norms.

Very few would consider California, as one small example, as “traditional”. There’s almost a competition to see who can be the most different socially and who can have the highest cultural impact with their unorthodox way of life, views, and/or customs.

Much of France is now experiencing something somewhat similar, mostly due, however, to globalization, which s why they’re a good example to examine. I was there for three weeks recently, and started my trip in Paris. I have a friend who is French and lives in Paris. I asked him how French people felt about Americans, just out of curiosity, and he told me it depended on the age group. Much of the older generation seem to be more afraid of globalization.

France is a very old and full of deep, rich history that influences much of their culture; another example of “tradition”. For instance, while in Lyon at a little party with friends, all from the area, we had crepes for dinner, ones with eggs, cheese, and ham. My friend who I was traveling with, is Mexican, and a common sandwich in that culture is one with egg, cheese, ham, and jam. When we were served the crepes, my friend asked for some jam. The whole world seemed to have stopped, faces had a looks of bewilderedness, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen, it was quite hilarious. Now, strawberry jam with eggs, ham, and cheese is granted a little weird, but the reaction of our French companions was comically overkill. They had to explain to us that in France, there are certain important protocals that dictate what is eaten, at what time of the day, and during which meal. Anything outside of that as blasphemy. However, something very important happened that says a lot about the youth in a social enviroment like there’s that’s so strict about social protocals and traditions: after explaining how wild that request for jam was, they gave us the jam.

My friend from Paris explained to me that the younger generation there adore the results of globalization; Starbucks, mixed wine, cheeseburgers, even the English language. This is what many of the older individuals there are afraid of, later generations having a looser grip on traditional culture.  I sympathize with this, since much of their history is impressive, and their view of things traditionally comes from such passion and deep appreciation.

An example of this can be illustrated from an experience I had at a wine bar with some more friends in Lyon. Very classy place, I could tell it had been there for a while. I’m not a huge fan of wine so I had no say in the choice of bottle, and my friends took quite some time to order one. Finally, they had decided on a Bordeaux, which even I know is fancy stuff. When the wine connaisseur arrived to take our order, I was surprised at his response. While we would normally be speaking French, my friend and I had in our company two girls who we had gotten to know from Australia, in addition to our other friends who were natives; the Aussies only knew English. The connaisseur heard some of us speaking English, and after attempting to order the Bordeaux, told my French associates that because those of us who were speaking English were not natives, particularly since me and my friend were from America, the wine would be too complex and sophisticated for our palets. He’d therefore refused to serve us what we’d asked for, we had to choose another wine.

Now being raised in America, this is unheard of for me. A lot of my friends from France who’ve been to the States tell me that America has the best customer service in the world, and that’s something I had noticed being in France. Here, the customer’s always right. There, whoever serves you knows better than you. I would’ve been offended by the wine connaisseur refusing us service, and to an extent I was, but I couldn’t help but appreciate his passion for what he does. Maybe service here in America is technically better, but the problem is, the customer is hardly ever right. I’m not a cook, wine maker, clothe manufacturer, or hair stylist. It doesn’t make sense for people to be so demanding and picky about what they want to the point where they’re telling experts how to do their job. This is not the case in France, and I didn’t mind. The French people pay so much attention to detail, to quality, to perfection that I was beyond happy with whatever I was given. Everything there was just done with such care and patience, nothing was rushed.

How do you feel about American culture? Are you scared for other cultures concerning globalization? What was your favorite culture to visit? Leave a comment down below!

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