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 🙂