Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Les États-Unis

I feel like writing, but I don't really know what to write about.  I think this blogpost is going to make the least amount of sense (not that the other ones really had any particular rhyme or reason to them).

I think that I'm going to talk about America.  I know, I know, I do that a lot.  But I can't help but compare everything that is new and strange to me hear to what I know and is familiar back home.  For example, getting a bank account.  Back in the states, you just have to sign some forms.  Here, I had to bring in my proof of schooling, my passport, and a document saying I lived in France.  Since I didn't have all three, my French bank account is STILL not fully operational.

Being in this country really has reaffirmed my love of the American government system.  Everyone complains about how politics in the US is such dirty business and that politicians there are nasty people.  But I disagree.  Our government, our federalist system was built from scratch and remains unique.  What is most impressive is the fact that for over two hundred years, we have had a functioning government (yeah, the civil war kind of messed up stuff, but the Union never stopped functioning).  The French are on their fifth republic.

But what I love most about being here is talking about the United States.  In that terrifying law class, we were talking about the US Supreme court and federalism.  It was sooooo strange that the french kids had no idea how our government was really set up.  I know that is an incredible arrogant statement to make, because I had very little knowledge of their system before getting here, but still.  It was awesome describing the importance of Obama's decisions for justice's on the Supreme Court.  It was great letting the class know that the states and federal government have different laws.

I know it is weird, but my favorite class this semester is my Social History of the United States in the Twentieth Century.  My professor is French, but he is an expert on Chicago.  I've never been to that city, but it seems cool.  The only bummer, is he uses it for virtually every example.  I wish he would talk abotu DC or LA or some city I know about... But at least he is talking about the US. What makes that class even better is the fact that there are only a few Americans.  I think we counted five total.  So it is great, because just by chance of birth, I have an automatic leg up in that subject.  I guess it is kind of like the antidote to my Monday mornings.

I've also come to realize that I am going to enter into the public service.  I'm not sure how, or when, or if I am going to do something first, but becoming a politician I really see in my future.  Which brings me to my next point.  I have had an embarrassingly lack of exposure to the news since I've been here.  But that all changed yesterday when I realized I could download the video podcast for NBC Nightly News.  All it means is that every morning, the previous night's news is automatically downloaded onto my Computer for me to watch when I have twenty free minutes.  So I have watched the news for the last two days.

All in all though, this American pride thing I have going on is making me feel really guilty.  I know that I am clinging to my culture as a safety blanket.  I am not immersing myself completely into the French culture.  I have the option of watching the news in French or in English and I choose English.  I could either read Le Monde or the LA Times.  I choose the LA Times because it is easier.  I could travel around the country on the weekends if I wanted to.  But I choose to stay in Paris because it is a place I am familiar with.

I don't want to leave Paris in May saying "man I wish I spent more time getting to know the country and not focusing so much on America" , but at the same time, America is the land that my family is in, the coutnry where I was born, and the only country I have ever really known. I know how the government works, on both a state and Federal level.  I could tell you how the court system is organized.  And most of this stuff is not stuff I've studied, but stuff I've picked up in my twenty years there.

It probably just takes some getting used to, but I'll choose our Capitol Building to l'Assemblée Nationale any day.

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