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Where Are All The Billboards?

It was a revelation during my morning commute. I have always thought my drive into work at Amadeus was so beautiful.  Part of that journey includes 8 minutes on the infamous A8 with the hills on one side and the sea on the other.  Both factors make it a very pleasant 8 minutes.  (Of course when La Rentrée happens in September and the traffic increases, ask me again how pleasant those 8 minutes are.)  In any case, I recently realized just how empty that scene is . . . meaning void of billboards.  Of course there are trees, beautiful homes and even a train track but the absence of commercialism is a beautiful thing.  Now I do have to clarify, they do exist in France but they are definitely not as plentiful.  Once I get within the city limits of Nice, there are plenty of advertisements on building’s walls and at the bus stops.  Yet you do appreciate the fact that you are not completely surrounded by people trying to get you to buy things, things you really don’t need.

The Joy of Not Being Sold Anything

The Joy of Not Being Sold Anything

This observation leads me to one my own personal attractions to this country (and really Europe as a whole) is the emphasis on quality and not quantity.  In the States there is such an emphasis on obtaining, buying and accumulating.  No wonder the storage industry is booming there.  In France, there is definitely a different take on life and wanting the best quality in the moment.  There is one blogger that I have been watching for years that recently wrote about this very subject as well, Adrian Leeds.  She is an American living in Paris for 16 years and found her niche in helping Americans buy property in France (which is actually easier to do than the States).  Routinely she has her own adventures and observations of the French culture that she has wholeheartedly embraced.  She also holds twice a week a language exchange in Paris where for 30 minutes you talk French and the other 30 minutes you talk English.  It attracts both sides of the spectrum to give an opportunity to practice a foreign language.  I actually went once and met Adrian personally in one of my previous travels to Paris.  In any case, I highly recommend you read her entry Never Say Never, Never Say Forever.  It is insightful on why there are several American and English expats living in France.    Plus I find myself aligned heavily with her beliefs.

Life Long Enhanced Creative Skills

Life Long Enhanced Creative Skills

While we are on the subject on why do people move to another country, there was a recent report showing the impacts of such a drastic move.  Of course it is a positive one. 🙂  The report provided by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that individuals who lived in another country outside of their own end up having life-long enhanced creative skills.  But you have to take the jump!  Just traveling on vacations to foreign countries doesn’t warrant the difference as you are still in your comfort zone and get to go back home.  You have to endure the change, learn the language and discover other modes of thinking.

My final thought? A quick reference to the Wall Street Journal article of another research study that proved that learning a foreign language is a total transformation in thinking.  Your native language greatly influences how you see and comprehend the world.  Studying another language, even though you may not use it often, can still open a whole new world for you.  A perfect example in the English/French frontier is the phrase I miss you.  In French it is Tu me manques.  I have always found this phrase a linguistic delight as in English the subject of the phrase is the person having the emotion whereas in French they understand the subject to be the person receiving the emotion.  A more literal English translation of latter phrase is You are being missed by me.  So who is that emotional experience truly about?  You or me? 😉

So as the school year begins again, encourage the students around you to find a language they like and do a semester abroad.  And just maybe they will go after their dreams like I have.

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Categories: Everyday Life
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