This week we had a bit of a different meeting since it was our last official meeting, and I was already on a road trip back to Germany. I was able to show the others a bit of the beautiful Finnish landscape, where we decided to set camp for the night.
We had no special topic on our agenda for today and as it happens somewhat naturally lately, we got to the corona topic quite quickly. We talked about the different strategies in our countries. This was quite interesting for me because in a few weeks I would be back home in Germany again. But it was also interesting to see how some rules are handled differently in France.
We agreed that after COVID we want to make a meeting in person possible. I have been to some of the more southern parts of France, but there is still a lot left to see, and therefore I would really appreciate the opportunity. We have also created an Instagram group and hope to stay in touch that way. So, fingers crossed!
Yesterday we had another meeting with our German-French group. We talked extensively about stereotypes and the German and French culture.
At the beginning Leonie wanted to know how we imagine a typical French person, Tim said that the first thing he thinks of is a man with a striped shirt, a beret and a baguette under his arm. To our disappointment, Leonie pointed out that at most a few girls wear them and then only in Paris. She said in general that many French stereotypes only apply to Paris rather than the rest of the country. Another cliché that came to mind was that French people don’t like to speak English – according to Leonie, it’s primarily not because they don’t like it, but that they can’t or have a hard time with the pronunciation. For Tim, the typical public demonstrations in France were another distinctive behavior that he associates with France. From the other French girls I met in Tampere, I learned that the French love tarte – whether sweet or savory, there is almost always a tarte. Also, Leonie has pointed out to us that if we are ever in France must necessarily try frogs or snails, as these are also typical French specialties – I think here I will have to pass, however.
For Leonie, a typical German is dressed in lederhosen and drinking beer. I think this image of Germans still persists worldwide. However, lederhosen are only typical clothing in southern Germany and are mainly worn in Bavaria at traditional festivals like Oktoberfest. Of course, we also got to the classic cultural points like punctuality for Germany and disorganization for French. We ended up with the working conditions; Leonie told us that the unstructuredness of the French comes from the fact that they are always stressed because they work six days a week. In Germany, on the other hand, they only work five days a week. However, in both countries the standard working time is 40 hours per week. Most of the clichés surrounding France come from the capital, Paris, and the behavior of the citizens there. In Germany, on the other hand, life and mentality in Berlin is very different from the rest of the country, even though it is the capital and the seat of government.
In the end we had a long discussion about different types of bread with some difficulties in understanding, that was very funny and led to lots of different photos of baguettes in our WhatsApp chat – but now we know that a baguette like we have in Germany is actually not a real baguette compared to the typical French baguette.
Since Germany and France are so close together, there are a lot of stereotypes about each other. Therefore, we decided to talk about them this time and elaborate on what is at least partly true and what is just wrong.
We started by collecting all the stereotypes we could think of about the other country. Lisa and I described the stereotypical French person as a man with a striped shirt, a beret hat and a baguette. Leonie described the stereotypical German guy with leather pants and a plaid shirt, drinking a beer and eating a pretzel. What was fun for us is that both these stereotypes are only true for a certain region of the country. While the stereotypical German is mainly describing the Bavarian culture, the stereotypical French guy is more a description of a Parisian.
But there were also some stereotypes we had of France that were approved by Leonie. For example, the eating habits that seem weird to the German tongue, like frog legs and snails. Leonie explained to us that Frog legs are eaten quite rarely, while snails for her are more like a regular fancy celebration dinner. This was quite interesting to me.
An interesting similarity we discovered is the difference between the capital cities from the rest of the country. Leonie told us that in her opinion, the Parisian lifestyle has more of a negative reputation. She described them as rushed people that complain a lot about everything. For Lisa and me, Berlin has more of a positive connotation. A lot of people around me went to Berlin for a few months for an internship. Berlin for us is more of an alternative and welcoming culture and is a relatively green and spacious city compared to the rest of Germany.
I really enjoyed this week’s session, and I feel like I have learned a lot about French culture and its similarities to Germany.
After a smaller break in between our meetings, we finally managed to make another meeting happen! Inspired by other groups, we decided to also talk about music from artists from our country.
We started by asking each other what music we know from the other country. I was not surprised to hear 99 Luftbalons from Leonie. But I was surprised to hear O-Tannenbaum. Leonie said it was a part of her German lessons and is therefore quite known in France. From my side, the only French song that came into my mind right away was Alors on danse. Leonie helped us out with a classic French song called La vie en rose by Édith Piaf which is also quite famous from different movies.
After this, we continued with some famous music from our generation. Leonie started by showing us some rap music that she likes to listen to with her friends. Lisa and I were agreeing on the fact that there is a lot of German rap music, which we don’t like. But we could also agree that there is one Artist called Apache which has become quite famous in the last years and was more favoured by us as well. We also realized how little story there is in a lot of rap songs, which made it quite hard to translate the meaning of the song for each other.
After the rap songs I wanted to show something from a different genre and went with Pocahontas from AnnenMayKantereit. This Song has a happy feel to it although it is about a failed relationship. This song has also become quite popular in the last few years and even Leonie thinks she has already heard it somewhere.
For me this session was quite interesting because I think talking about music is something more personal and I liked hearing Lisas and Leonies opinion on it.
Unfortunately, we could not meet now for some time. Therefore, it was all the happier that it finally worked out again today and we have seen or heard us once again.
Since we have already discussed many general topics and I have seen in the blog posts of others that they have listened to music, we have also decided to do so.
We listened to some different songs from various styles from France and Germany and tried to translate them.
Among others, Leonie showed us the song La vie en rose by Édith Piaf, which is known mainly from French films or films set in France. The song is about seeing life through rose-colored glasses. She also showed us two cool (pop) rap songs, Je m’en tape by OBOY and Toutes les couleurs by Ninho. As with the German rap songs, we had to realize that the lyrics in rap songs often don’t make sense. However, we liked the sound of the French rap songs much better than the common German ones.
We showed her Roller by Apache 207 a well-known German rap song, but it really makes no sense at all. We could only explain that it was about scooters.
We also let her hear Pocahontas by AnnenMayKantenreit. A song about a failed relationship, but it doesn’t sound as sad as the lyrics make it sound. Leonie even knew this song.
Of course, a typical German “Schlager” song could not be missing! We have chosen Atemlos by Helene Fischer, which is played especially at the Oktoberfest up and down.
Leonie showed us then finally Sous les sunlights des Tropiques by Gilbert Montagné what is a French hit song about dancing in the sun.
It was really very interesting to hear the French songs. I could imagine to include one or other song of OBOY in my Spotify playlist, because I really liked the style of his song.
As usual, we started our session with some small talk. Since we have been travelling in the past weeks, we decided to talk about some basic vocabulary that can help you while travelling.
We started with some essential city locations you may need (or hopefully not) when travelling such as Aeroport, hospital and Banque. We realized that some French words are written like the English words, but are pronounced very differently. For me, this made the correct pronunciation even harder, since you feel like you recognize the written word.
On the other hand, most of these words will be easy to remember because they are similar to the English and the German word. One example here would be the French word Police which is spelt the same as the English word police, while the German word is also similar Polizei.
When we talked more about finding your way at an airport, we realized that all the locations there are named in English and have no translation in German of French. I think this makes a lot of sense since most of the people at an airport will be international travellers and this way, they don’t need to translate every sign.
After one week break, we had another meeting today.
In the beginning, we were talking a lot about personal stuff, which was related to traveling. Because of that, we then learned some words that can be used in relation to travel or generally in a foreign city, especially in another country.
These included some words like airport, central station, cab, but also distinctive buildings and places like museums, banks, hospitals or schools. We noticed that in French many words are written similarly to English (for example police), which makes it even harder with the pronunciation, because you already have the English pronunciation in your head. And, as we have found out several times, the spelling and pronunciation in French is often very different. Other words, however, were similar to German (for example banque = bank = Bank). Therefore, most of the words will be easy to remember and learn for us.
We also noticed that descriptions at the airport, such as gate or terminal, do not seem to exist in another language but are called the same in every language. Tim had a very good theory about this: Since there are many non-native people at the airport, it would make little sense to translate these words into the local language but so it is easy for everyone to find their way around.
We also talked about the idea that – as soon as Corona allows us to travel again – we want to try to finally see each other in person in France or Germany.
On Saturday we finally had our French – German Cooking Session. As Léonie is, unfortunately, currently not in Finland we could not cook all together in real. But at least Tim and me, who are both in Tampere, met and did the Recette Tartiflette. We met at the supermarket, to get all the ingredients needed (potatoes, onions, crème fraîche, cheese). While grocery shopping we had to struggle with some difficulties, because the recipe requires a very special, French cheese – the Reblochon cheese. Unfortunately, we could not find it here in Finland. After extensive Google research, we decided to use Brie as an alternative. Back at my apartment we got straight to cooking as we were already hungry. For the recipe you first had to cut the potatoes into slices, dice the onion and fry both with salt and pepper for a quarter of an hour. Actually, bacon is added, but we omitted it because we wanted to keep the recipe vegetarian. Then the potato and onion mixture was put into a baking dish, alternating with crème fraîche and the cheese. Finally, it had to bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes. Even though Léonie says it looks half as tasty with Brie as with Reblochon cheese, we really enjoyed the Recette Tartiflette. It is quite similar to the traditionale potato gratin (Kartoffelgratin) known in Germany and very substantial, which is why we just managed half of it. Since the recipe is very easy to prepare, we definitely want to try it again with the Reblochon cheese when we are back in Germany.
Today, I met Lisa in person for the first time. We met in front of the supermarket next to her apartment and went shopping for the missing ingredients. As expected, the only challenge for us was to find the right cheese. After we went up and down the refrigerator, we still could not find the Reblochon cheese. We did some extensive google research on the fly and decided to go with Brie instead.
After the shopping, we started by peeling and slicing the potatoes and onions. After that, we had to fry the potatoes and onions for 15 Minutes before stacking them in a baking dish with crème fraîche and slices of cheese. After we were done, we placed everything in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees.
Although we had the wrong cheese, it was still a delicious meal. I definitely want to try it again with the correct cheese once I find it. The Brie unfortunately did not melt as well as we would have expected, which altered the look of it a bit. There is also a similar recipe I know from Germany, which is called Kartoffelgratin. It is also potato slices baked with cheese. I think the cheese makes all the difference though.
Leonie’s Knödel also turned out really well. She showed us a picture later. I think they enjoyed it as well.
Yesterday we had another short meeting with our German-French group. We met via Zoom and made preparations for our cooking session on Saturday. We exchanged the recipes and talked about the ingredients and the necessary equipment. We also exchanged some background knowledge about it. Léonie chose Recette Tartiflette for us, which are kind of potatoes with cheese that are backed in the oven – I’m really excited for trying that out tomorrow! She said it’s traditionally eaten while skiing in France, as it’s a very greasy food. We chose Semmelknödel mit Pilzrahmsoße for her because it is easy to prepare. This are dumplings made of old bread with a mushroom cream sauce. In Germany, it is mostly cooked to still use stale bread.
I’m really looking forward to Saturday and I’m already curious how the Recette Tartiflette will taste and if Léonie likes the Semmelknödel mit Pilzrahmsoße. We will keep you updated with some pictures of the ready cooked dishes and of course also with another blog post about the meeting.