artistic, beautiful, food

culture, art, wine

cultured, socially aware, traditional

cultured, sophisticated, food, equality

Eiffel Tower, delicious food, beautiful language

Eiffel Tower, Louvre, French cuisine

Eiffel Tower, Paris, Napoleon, Bread

Elegance, arrogance, cuisine

equality, liberty, culture

Europe, nation, culture, history

Europe. Expensive. Euro.

Fraternity, Liberty,

french, foreign, travel

health, strikes, Paris

Liberalism, wine, fashion, pastries.

Paris, cheese, wine

Paris, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, bread

romance, wine, fine cuisine

égalité, protection, tour Eiffel, santé, Sarkozy, culture, guerres mondiales

bazar, ouvert d'esprit, saucisson

cuisine, culture, langue

cuisine, régions, typique

gastronomie (pains,fromages,vins..);
tourisme; romantique

Gastronomie, liberté, fierté, culture riche

gastronomie, mode, architecture

gastronomie, tour Eiffel, Paris

Grève, français, romance

Paris, bleu blanc rouge, Tour Eiffel

paris, démocratie, union européenne

Paris, Tour-Eiffel, diversité

Paris, vin, pain

Paris; gastronomie; vins

Paris; Nourriture; Culture

Sarkozy, Coupe du Monde de football 98

Sarkozy, musées, Paris, Champs Elysée

tour Eiffel, baguette, vins

Tour Eiffel, bretagne, paris

Traditions - Tourisme - Cuisine - Tour Eiffel

un peu fainéant


I have two comments about this word. First, I found quite surprising that American and French students associate similar words to "France", while their associations with "United States" are quite different. While Americans tend to associate their country with their ideals ("freedom", "democracy"), French students choose less idealistic but more concrete words for "France" (such as "food", "wine", "Paris", "Eiffel tower", "fashion"), which are also the words that the Americans, from an outsider's point of view, choose. Perhaps this reflects that French people are less idealistic than Americans? What do you think?

Second, If I assume correctly, many of you are from Brittany, or at least not from Paris. However, twelve of you associate "France" with words related to Paris, such as "Paris", "Eiffel Tower", "Champs Elysées", while only one person mentioned "Brittany". This surprised me a little, and made me immediately think of habitants of certain Spanish regions that do not feel to belong to Spain (e.g., Catalonia or the Basque Country). Do these associations mean that you feel that "France" is strongly centered in and symbolized by Paris, while your region is a somehow different entity? Do you feel that you are less French than people from Paris are?

I noticed that a lot of the responses by both American and French students relate to the French culture and tourism industry.  I understand the American response, because we often hear about France from our friends who have visited there.  But, I was surprised to see so many associations of France with Paris and the Eiffel Tower.  Do you believe Paris can represent all of France?  Do you think of Paris because of it's importance in government (as your captiol) or because it is the most well known French city?

I also noticed very few words about your government.  Only three students responded with Sarkozy.  As a comparision, almost all the French students associated Obama with the United States.  What are your opinions on your government system?  Is it an important part of your definition of France?

Paris est pour nous un lieu avant tout historique. L'Histoire de Paris est en corrélation avec l'Histoire de France : Capitale du royaume des Francs au Moyen Age, lieu de la révolution française, site choisi pour les expositions universelles...

Beaucoup de personnes vivent à Paris. Un très grand nombre de décisions politiques mais aussi culturelles, économiques sont prises de Paris. En ce sens, Paris est notre phare.

Mais, la France est un pays qui à des territoires très différents. Des régions qui ont leur caractère propre.

En soi, Paris ne présente pas toute la France mais donne une image somme toute représentative du pays du fait de son histoire, sa taille et de son importance dans le monde.


Je ne pense pas que Paris représente la France entière. Cependant, il vrai que Paris est une grande capitale mondialement connue. De ce fait, on l'associe facilement à la France. Les sites touristiques qui s'y trouvent sont également très connus.

Cependant se sont Paris mais aussi toutes les régions aux cultures et aux traditions différentes qui forment la France et son patrimoine.

Je  pense  que nous ne sommes pas moins idéalistes que les Américains. En effet, je pense que nous ne relions pas ces valeurs tels que la liberté à notre pays parce qu’inconsciemment, nous espérons qu’elles ne soient pas que synonymes de la France mais du monde entier. Pour quelles raisons reliez-vous spécialement ces concepts à votre pays?


I think we link ideals so strongly with our country because we are repeatedly told in history class all through grade school that this is how our country is defined and what is important.  I remember learning about the American Revolutionary War every year from first grade through eighth grade.  Every year, there was a strong emphasis placed on the idea of freedom and liberty.

I also think that because the US is a relatively young country, in our history classes, we cover many of the same things multiple times, such as the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Civil Rights movement.  These events are all inspired by the set of ideals that we have come to use to define our country, such as freedom, equality, liberty, and civil rights.

Paris a beau être mondialement connue, je me rapelle avec vu une carte de la France sur une chaine américaine, ou Paris n'était pas du tout bien localisé.

La ville se trouvait, si je me rapelle bien, à l'ouest de la France, et la carte n'était globalement pas representative du pays, les contours étaient completement faux.

Cette anecdote m'avait choquée, venant d'un pays comme les USA

Paris est connue pour être l'une des plus belle ville du monde, elle est connue pour son architecture, ses monuments et musées, je pense que les français sont fières de leur capitale. D'ailleurs vous êtes beaucoup à utiliser le mot "cultur", pourquoi ce mot vous vient il à l'esprit quand on vous parle de la France ?

Une personne pense que nous sommes arrogant, qu'est ce qui dans nôtre comportement lui fait penser cela ?

Vous évoquez aussi nôtre gastronomie, avez vous des préjugés comme "mangeurs de grenouilles" ? Nous, nous vous considerons comme des mangeurs de hamburgers, mais est ce que c'est vraiment l'aliment que vous cosommez le plus ?

Mathieu, your anecdote is quite representative of the stereotype of Americans not knowing much about the world outside the US. I know of a funny video in Youtube about this. Let me say that the interviews shown there there have probably been handpicked to make the video funny, and that they are not at all representative of the Americans that I know in Boston. However, going back to your anecdote, I am not sure whether many Americans you find in the street would be able to locate Paris on a map of Europe. But then my guess is that many French people in the street may have some difficulties locating Boston on a map of America (several Spanish people have asked me whether Boston is North or South of New York), not to mention being able to correctly identify the states in the US (I cannot do this myself).

Louise, I really like that you bring up the topic of prejudices. We all have negative prejudices against people from other countries, but it is very rare that we have the opportunity to discuss them openly with them.

If we think of culture as "art", "science", etc, then I think that France is strongly associated with culture. When thinking of almost any cultural area, many French names come to mind: fashion designers (Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent), architects (Le Corbusier), scientists (Descartes, Pierre and Marie Curie), philosophers (Voltaire, Rousseau), writers (Balzac, Hugo, Molière, Proust), musicians (Debussy), painters (so many Impressionists), and a long etcetera. Probably not many countries have made such a big cultural footprint in the whole world.

So probably because you are aware of your international significance, you sound arrogant some times. If you just read your own messages, you'll see how proud of your country you are, as you often make statements of you having things that are "the best in the world". You probably regard this as pride; to foreign ears, it sometimes comes off as arrogance.

I never though of French people as frog eaters, but it sounds funny :) While Americans do not eat hamburgers so often, in my opinion there is a huge difference between the quality of food in US and France. French people give much more importance to good food, and thus they eat way better than we typically do over here.

pour répondre à david, pour moi avant d'être français je suis breton et la bretagne est une région qui historiquement n'été pas française mais avait sa propre autonomie mais bon ceci c'est passé en l'an 1100 à 1400. et la bretagne est une région différente du reste de la france avec une langue bretonne une culture bretonne on retrouve d'autres régions en france qui comporte eux aussi une culture différente c'es tle cas de la corse ou encore le pays basque.

David-C'est vrai que nous sommes fière de notre culture et que cela peut passer pour de l'arrogance mais les américains peuvent eux aussi passer pour arrogant, non ? Souvent l'image que l'on peut se fait d'un américain c'est une personne qui pense que sont pays est le plus puissant et que les autres pays sont insignifiants. Comment l'explique tu ?

En se qui conserne les "mangeurs de grenouilles" c'est peut être plutôt un préjugé britanique. Quels sont vos préjugés ou idées que vous vous faites des français ?

Louise, I agree, I think Americans sometimes come off as arrogant as well. Possibly this is associated to people in countries that have had a strong international influence in the recent history? Also this may be the perception from people in countries that are economically or politically less powerful, such as Spain. I would not expect Spaniards to come off as arrogant, since I think we tend to feel ashamed, inferior, or sometimes defensive with foreigners that come from countries richer than ours.

I am not sure whether making a list of prejudices is the most diplomatic think to do, but you asked... :-) My stereorypical French person is uptight, gives a lot of importance to appearance, manners, and etiquette, is cold and distant, and is snobbish regarding things like food, wine, clothing, and French pronunciation (ok, we're officially at war now :-) But then I am not American, so the stereotype Americans have may be different. Also let me say that I have met several French people, none of which match the previous stereotype; actually some of them are quite the opposite.

Also, now that I think about it, it's interesting how stereotypes can be interpreted as a reflection of our own insecurities. As a Spaniard, I am often worried of being too chatty, loud, and "on-your-face" (we tend to be), so I project that onto others and see them as cold and distant. My foreign pronunciation is bad, so I am self-aware of it and blame others. At the end, I guess perceptions are all relative.

C'était juste pour savoir un peu comment nous sommes perçu aux Etats-unis, se n'est pas la guerre :-)
Tu dit venir d'Espagne, est ce que tu es aux Etats-unis seulement pour tes études ? Pour pourquoi avoir choisit les états-unis si c'est le cas ? est ce qu'il y a beaucoup d'étudiants qui viennent d'autres pays ? ne te sent pas obligé de répondre cette fois :-)


Ok, let's make peace then :-P

Yes, there are a lot of foreign students in grad school at MIT (about 40%), while in undergraduate there are much less (5%, I believe). There are in fact many French students in graduate school here (I think it's the fifth most represented nationality, after US, Canada, China, and Korea). Also, as you can see from other responses, while most undergraduates are American citizens, they have very heterogeneous backgrounds.

I decided to come here because I had the perception that graduate schools in the US were generally better than those in Spain, plus I wanted to live in a different country for some time. I am happy of having done so :-)

What about you? Does moving to a different country sound appealing?