Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fun France Facts Friday on Sunday: High School

From the interesting to the trivial to the the mundane to the hilarious, here's an ongoing list of things that I have come to learn or realize during my months spent in Lorraine, France. Come back next Friday for 3 more. (OOPS, this time, Friday came two days late).

Fun France Facts Friday, Volume II: HIGH SCHOOL
For two school years in a row, I've been teaching high school/ middle school in Lorraine (Nancy-Metz Academie), France. There have been many common running themes that I find quite bizarre compared to my American high-school experience. Keep in mind, I only speak for my experience in Lorraine. The rest of France could be different (but I doubt it).

1) Toute en noir:  So we know what the "typical" American girl high school look is: hair perfectly in place (usually bleached), preppy style, perfectly applied makeup, tan skin bronzed from the tanning bed.
But in France, this "so American" look isn't common...not even one tiny bit. Nope, here, the "chic" girl is head to toe en noir. Black knows no boundaries. Black, messy hair. Thick black eyeliner, black leather jacket, black skinny pants, black heels, black Longchamp little purse...AND I must make this distinction: this "toute en noir" is not at all a "goth style." It's not even grungey-rock 'n roll style. It's just, well...French.

2) Popularity Deficit:  I was shocked to find out that popularity doesn't really exist French high schools; I thought that the popularity factor was just a natural element of the adolescent human nature. Weird, right?
Instead, the students more-so just have their group of friends and that's it; they're friends usually from being in the same classes. ...there aren't even different categories of students (the jocks, preps, stoners, goths). So, this can be viewed as a great thing, right? No life-long complexes from not being a popular girl/guy. Well, first I must point out that the kids can be just as cruel. Second, when I realized perhaps WHY there is no popularity, it's not so sweet...which leads me to my next point:

3) School=Work & Only Work:
Okay...continuing from the last point, essentially, I believe, popularity isn't present because there is no "high-school" culture in France. School is a 8-5 job; the students are there to work and only work (even though most are super lazy to even do that).

There are NO school sports, no extracurricular activities, no proms, no musicals, no homecomings, no graduation ceremonies, no high school Senior traditions, no yearbooks, no school pride. However,  I believe the popularity deficit exists for one key reason: no school sports. Lack of team sports= no stars of the school. No Freshman girls drooling over the Senior star quarterback. No cheerleaders performing for pep-rallies. There are not even grand assemblies where certain students are in front of the whole student body. So essentially, the community aspect of American high school is completely void. That's why my students always say, "Oh, la chance!" (ah, the luck!) when I discuss high school in America. If only they knew how much I still hated high school...even with all the fun stuff.
 But, of course, now, after being in France, I highly regret not enjoying my time more during high school..."the American way." Also, upon reflection, I realize that high school was a lot more fun than I thought at the time. Unfortunately, that seems to be the name of the game in life...
Whelp, that makes 3..'til next Friday (or Sunday, in today's case).


  1. Fantastic post mon amie! I thought those things were CRAZY to learn as well! Fortunately I absolutely loved high school while I was there. I would not ever go back, but I can confidently say I fully enjoyed myself while I was there. I did soccer and chorus, things I loved, and was involved in all kinds of groups.

    I'm a big believer in appreciating every facet of life while you are in it. And then when its time to move on, you've soaked up all you could absolutely get out of it and you can confidently push forward to the next phase in life.
    Hope you're enjoying yourself right now deary!

  2. I loved reading this... and love all your posts about French culture. So fascinating. Hope you're doing well friend!!!

  3. this was really interesting!! Hmmn, I wonder what the schools in germany are like... x

  4. As somebody who has gone through the awfulness identity crisis mess that was American high school, I found this post amazing to read! Black black black, no cliques/social systems? I'm not sure if it's better or worse. I love this Friday Facts thing!


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