Being an Australian in France

For an Australian moving to France, the transition can be pretty seamless (besides the language of course). The French and Aussies measure in the same way for example (metric system all the way for both countries), we write out dates with the date first and then the month and I have no living memory of having ever used Fahrenheit (seriously my American friends, it’s time to let it go!).

But the one thing that can throw me, is when people ask me about ‘next year.’I was chatting on Facebook with one of my French friends when she asked me what I would be doing ‘next year.’ At first the question stumped me, we would only have been in April 2012 at the time and when she asked me what my plans were for ‘next year’ I thought she was talking about January 2013.

So I wrote back ‘Um… I’m not sure, why?’.

Then after a few messages back and forth, I realised when she said ‘next year’ she meant from September that year.

You see the biggest difference between France and Australia is the difference in hemispheres, the change in seasons means our school year is completely different. In France the long summer break is in the middle of the year, while Australian schools start the summer holidays in mid-December and go back to school in February the following year.

This means that the school year starts in February and will finish in November or December within the same year, and the new year happens over the long summer break.

So it confuses me when people refer to a new year starting within the middle of a current year, because to me I’m still in the same ‘year’. Now of course I know that for anyone in the Northern Hemisphere you have a long summer break in the middle of the year, so September of course naturally feels like a whole new year, but it’s something I have to keep reminding myself about.

One of my Australian friends Vicki was particularly impressed when she arrived in France in October, and the French drama students told her they’d been rehearsing ‘since the start of the year.’

‘Wow! Since February?’ she thought.

It makes me laugh now and I still need to remind myself when the ‘new year’ starts in Europe 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Being an Australian in France

  1. I have always wondered what it must be like to experience the year in a different Hemisphere. I still can’t get my head around the idea of December being a summer month!

    • For me it felt quite natural to have a wintry December, probably due to growing up with so many American Christmas movies 🙂 But what I still can’t get my head around is starting a new year in the middle of winter, the idea of January and February being cold, dreary months was just so weird for me when I lived in Europe!

  2. I completely agree with you about Celsius. Though the school year part makes perfect sense to me — as an American I measure “next year” as September, as well. 🙂

  3. I think my pen pal in Australia who has French ancestry would find it interesting to learn that an Australian lives in FRance. It is not very long ago that bad feelings existed because of the French nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean. My younger brother went to Australia and said that the Australians were not as anti-French to him as some New Zealanders that he met.

    so it is good that open mindedness still exists and allow people to take a good look at another culture and try to understand the differences. I would love to go to Australia. I have another friend who used to be my roommate and he married a girl from Haiti. He came to see me in America with his wife in 1989. So I have special relationships with Australians. I think they are a great peple

    • I feel that the nuclear tests affected New Zealand much more than Australia, so not many Australians would be upset at French people for it – definitely not anymore! I think kiwis can feel a ‘the French owe us for sinking the rainbow’ thing, but I’m sure that the average person realises the average French tourist had nothing to do with the nuclear tests that went on 🙂

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