Interview of Corrine SCHMAEDEKE
our American teaching assistant
School year 2021-2022
by the students in 1ère EURO
1) Could you introduce yourself ?
My name is Corrine SCHMAEDEKE, I’m a recent College graduate from Roosevelt, Minnesota, which is a suburb in-between Minneapolis and St Paul.
2) Why did you come to France ? Why this country ?
I came to France through a program called the ‘teaching assistant program’ in France. It’s a diplomacy program between the French government and the United States government to try to promote diplomacy, understanding of each other’s countries. So, Americans come to France, meet French people, learn French and French go to the US, work on English, mix cultures.
I chose to come to France because I have always been interested in French and Francophone culture. I studied in Morocco in the Spring of 2020 when COVID hit, so I ended up having to go back to America about 2 months early and I was always excited to go back abroad, to live abroad again and this was a great opportunity to do that.
3) Did you enjoy your stay here ? What struck you most ?
I really did enjoy my stay here, I made friends, I made a life, a routine in a really fun and exciting way that was much different from any life I’ve lived in America.
In terms of what struck me most, I think a lot of things struck me right away, kind of base-level things like the way people dress is different, or the way people eat is different, but it’s been interesting to get to know more deeply cultural differences that can’t be seen, so to learn more about opinions on education, and opinions on class and race as I got to know people more and learn their opinions, I got to understand those things better, and the differences.
4) Is France as you had imagined ? Would you imagine living in France for a long period of time ?
If I’m going to be honest I didn’t imagine France a lot, I didn’t know a lot about France before coming here… Unfortunately, when Americans think ‘France’, they think the Eiffel Tower, of my extent, to my knowledge because even through all my French classes I have learned more about Francophone countries than I did France. So, I was kind of underprepared to coming here, but I’ve loved it, I think a lot of people, a lot of Americans, really romanticize Paris, and, you know we call it the ‘city of love’ and I think it was cool to see that it was also a real city with real people and it’s not just one big romantic comedy, like people live here, there’re different parts, it’s a big city…
…and if I would live here for a long time, I think I would love to live here again. Forever ? I don’t know. But for 5 years would be great, but I would maybe want to live somewhere else in France that’s a little bit closer to - I know there’s a lot of really cool nature in France, which I didn’t get to experience a lot of, living in the city, in the surrounding areas, so that’s -I would like to go there next.
5) What will you do if you come back to France ?
I would love to continue teaching, I really like teaching, it’s my first year, so, I’m still learning a lot, but I’d like to continue to grow and then move somewhere in a little smaller city.
6) What is your favorite place in France ?
Unfortunately I didn’t get to get outside of Paris that often… but I’m really excited : I watch a little girl and her family has a second house or ‘beach house’ in Biarritz, so I’m really excited to get to experience the South of France and a little bit of France on the water.
7) Are there differences between France and other European countries you may have visited ?
Yes. There are noticeable things I can see. I can’t pretend to be an expert on culture, but I think when I visited Ireland it was a lot more like my home state in Minnesota, where people would smile at you, you know, I’ve had like a 20-minute-conversation with these two old men I met on the street, kind of more open to strangers that I didn’t see so much here. And then, in terms of clothing, it’s the most obvious one, French dress is very cool and classy in a way that I think is unique to France and Paris and surrounding areas especially.
8) What do you prefer in French ‘cuisine’ ? What is the weirdest thing you ate ?
I really like anything from the bakeries, I’ve tried, you know all like baguette, bread cheese, and -but also just in general, like fruits, just products in general are a lot better quality in France.
The weirdest thing I tried, I’m not quite sure what it was, because I didn’t like it very much and they said "I’m not gonna tell you what it is", but I think it might have been duck liver..."fois gras" ?!
I also tried snails, "escargots", which is not as bad as I had initially thought. It tastes like pesto which is a nice surprise.
9) Are French stereotypes true ?
I think some, like people here dress very nice and you’ll probably get a look up and down if you are talking too loud on the metro or if you are dressed in pyjamas, but I’ve never had anyone being rude to my face or mean or seem arrogant in any way. Especially French people say : ‘France is the worst country for speaking English’. I don’t know, I really met hardly anyone ever saying : my English is so bad, and then it will be like practically, there is nothing that they couldn’t say. And people think you look nice and you do.
10) What will you do when you go back home ? Will you miss France ?
When I go back home, I will be working for a non-profit organization called ‘Fair Vote’, and it’s working to change the voting system in America, specifically my home state of Minnesota. And it’s working to implement a voting system called Ranked Choice Voting which is a system kind of similar to what you have here, where you start with a lot of candidates and you put your first choice, and then if your first choice is knocked out, then you have another chance, except for it puts them all together in one vote. So, it’s working to make the voting cycle shorter in America ; it’s working to make it cost less money and they are trying to close the large gap… or stop political betrayal, because if you want to gain someone’s second vote, then you can’t disrespect candidates.
And I will absolutely miss France, I’ll miss the people I’ve met here, I’ll really miss walking places, taking public transport, I’ll miss the food -yeah, I’ll miss a lot of things !
THANK YOU, CORRINE !