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You're French Now!

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A Congolese student recalls his first surprise upon arriving in France

The Experience


“What shocked me the most when I arrived in France was that everyone was running ! People run in the street, to catch a bus, to catch the subway… But why are they always running? 

I first arrived in Paris, at my uncle’s who also comes from Congo. When I had to leave for Vannes, he accompanied me to the train station. I had prepared well in advance, as I would have done at home, but we were late because of him. And he was urging me: ‘Come on, hurry… Hurry up…’ I told him: ‘But why? We should have prepared ourselves earlier in this case!’ Especially since he had also lived in Congo, so he knew very well that the rhythm is not the same there and that I was not expecting it… It made me think of the sketch of a Congolese humorist who makes fun of the French for always being in a hurry*…

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Photo by Andrey Grushnikov from Pexels

A few weeks later, on my way to the university one morning, I surprised myself… I saw my bus coming and I started to run to catch it. I had never run for a bus before! The driver must have seen me because he waited for me to get on before leaving. It was only when I got on the bus that I burst out laughing! Everyone was looking at me. I wonder what they were thinking. I said to myself, “No, no, Darius, that’s not right… you’ve become French!”

* Watch here (in French) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXXYj-qlFC4 .

Who's Telling the Story?

Darius comes from Pointe Noire in Congo. He studied in Brazzaville and then moved to France to pursue a degree in ecology and biology.

Place : Paris and Vannes, France
Date : 2021

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