Aero: Dallas Zebrowski – France 2018 – City Life

Aero: Dallas Zebrowski - France 2018 - City Life

Aero: Dallas Zebrowski – France 2018 – City Life

Dallas Zebrowski

Dallas Zebrowski

Before any discussion of city life takes place, I would like to begin this reflection with a rant, denouncing the despicable, tortuous traffic apparatus created by Lucifer-himself to remind humanity that we will never escape sin or enter heaven. I speak, of course, of the round-a-bout.

Above all in life, if there is one ideology/belief-system that captures my full devotion, it is the Golden Mean, a notion developed by the ancient Greeks. Essentially, to boil down a fundamental Greek philosophical thought into a few words, the Golden Mean refers to a balance in everything. Where there is bad, there must be good. Where there is rich, there must be poor. Within Asian cultures, a similar notion exists, known as the Ying/Yang concept. Concerning France, the country gifted the world with cultural and intellectual achievements that changed the course of history, while simultaneously developing a society so enriched and sophisticated, that merely to speak of French cuisine, art, or architecture connotates images of grandeur and class. But, with such a lofty country, as the Golden Mean states, there must be deep lows to accompany magnificence. This is why Lucifer developed the traffic round-a-bout and burdened such a lovely country with it.

The traffic round-a-bout was designed specifically to punish humanity for its sins, for disregarding the pains of our fellow man. Every time I went around one, always as a passenger, visions of my impending doom loomed over me like a mobile over a baby’s crib. My lunch would begin to back-track its previous travelled route, and insecurity from the thought of vomiting within the vehicle would cloud my mind. My hands would grip various sturdy structures within the vehicle, and my knuckles would begin to turn white like the center strip of the Tricolour. But then, I would exit the dreaded gauntlet. A sweet relief would set in – the full gravity of the feeling of survival hitting me. I weathered the storm, bested the challenged set before me. Lucifer, you son-of-a-bitch, you can’t kill me yet.

In full disclosure, when driving in America, I love round-a-bouts. When the coast is clear from traffic and cops, I hit them speeding safety, and curb-hop the vehicle like a 90’s DTM car. (I am fully aware of that reference being woefully esoteric.)

In my defense, I did say the previous section would be a rant. But to end the traffic discussion with a little more academic touch, one thing I did find fascinating was the lack of traffic cops in France. I do not believe I saw a single designated traffic officer. Perhaps the French utilize more under-cover units for this type of work, as even sophomoric, uncultured American swine with an IQ equal to that of the price of anything off the McDonald’s Dollar Menu™ know to slow down when they see the traffic cop, to avoid being caught – not to stop dangerous behavior. I did think it was very interesting how the French battled the civic issue of speedy driving, by creating speed-bumps, chicanes, and other devices to reduce speed.

Now, concerning the differences between American and French city life, I will only point out generalities. This is because I have never lived in an American city, therefore I lack the “understanding” of city life. One generality I quickly saw, is how Paris and Rennes were low, flat cities, whereas American cities tend to build up. Concerning reasoning why, I am not entirely sure. Perhaps it is because many American metropolitan areas, like New York City, literally ran out of room, so to ascend was their only option. Maybe it has something to do with the American concept of status, achievement, or luxury. Either way I am not entirely sure, but I did like how low Paris was.

The biggest difference between France and America though, would have to be the train system. Without a doubt, the train system in France is much more efficient, and necessary, than that of America. I suspect that this is due to the inherent issues of the road system in France. Besides for the main highways, the roads in France seemed to be small, twisty, and generally inefficient when compared to America’s. I suspect this is due to the French paving over the medieval roads. Not to continue this tangent for too long, but one thing I did notice is how long it took to travel to places via automobile in France. With my host family, I remember we travelled an hour and a half via automobile, to only go about 30 miles. (Yes, miles, I google mapped it.) However, to wrap this up, I believe the reason the French train system is so much more advanced than its American counterpart is because it is much more heavily relied upon than the roads in France.

One last point to end on, I was very surprised about how commercial businesses were set up in France. There appears to be a lack of large, department stores. In Paris, when Professor Kruger pointed out the Monoprix, and said “it was like a Walmart”, I took her word for it. But in America, it would compare more realistically to a Rite-Aid or Walgreens. In conjunction with this, I was extremely pleased at how many little specialty shops I saw through-out the region. When I was caught in the Syrian protest in Rennes, it was coming out of a specialty coffee shop. This small shop grabbed my attention and did not let go, for the entirety I was there. As a fan of small mom-and-pop shops it was a sweet relief to do business with a private shop that sold coffee. Not tea, not baked goods with the coffee, not trinkets, but coffee. Only coffee. Unfortunately, I do not believe businesses like these could exist in America, but I am glad to see that they live on in France.

Dallas Zebrowski
Study Abroad – France 2018 @ FLCC

World Languages @ FLCC: France Study Abroad 2018

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