Meet Anastasia Jouany and Mathieu Philips:
That’s the thing I like: when people are smiling.
Last Friday was a sad day in France. Tragedies continued to emerge in Paris, and they were affecting everyone around the world. During this time, I was on an airplane flying to one of my dream destinations: Chicago. I was excited to discover this city and learn more about American culture.
I think I’ll always remember the moment I exited the plane and felt the intense cold Chicago weather on my skin. However, my happiness to finally be here after a long, 9-hour flight was greater than my concern for the cold.
My first few days in Chicago were pretty great. Honestly, I was surprised by how nice the people are. Before I came here, I was taught that Americans were a bit like French people—somewhat closed-minded and not as friendly.
One of our instructors, Joanne, asked us to talk to someone on the subway. I spoke with a 21-year-old American girl. She was an art student who knew some French, because her ex-boyfriend was from Nice, a city in the south of France. She was really kind and seemed open-minded.
What made me smile is that in Paris, it’s rude to talk to people on the tube, and it’s rare to find someone who will converse with you so easily.
In just a few minutes, I had discovered some really cool things about this girl. She explained how she learned French, and talked about her boyfriend and what she was doing in Chicago. I’m sure our subway chat wasn’t out of the ordinary—Americans just seem to be more sociable than us. You can see it on their faces and in the way they smile at strangers. I like it when people are smiling.
In this country, they do everything big.
Tuesday night after school, I passed a store downstairs in my building. A fire had started inside.
It was only a small fire, yet the response was massive. There must have been at least five fire trucks and several police cars at the scene—quite a lot for such a minor emergency. I found this very impressive.
It seems that everything Americans do, they do it big.
The strangest thing to me was that while the firefighters were stopping the fire, people continued grocery shopping and going about their business as if everything were normal.
I think that was even more interesting than all the firefighters and response units who were there.