Thursday, December 16, 2004

Well Ex-CUUUSE My Wa!

Japanese living in Paris are waking up to certain realities:

Paris sends Japanese into suicidal state: report

... More than a 100 expatriates a year are sinking into a state called "the Paris syndrome" which is characterised by feelings of persecution or suicidal tendencies, according to the mental health facilities of city hospitals.

Part of their clinical depression stems from having to reconcile their romanticism about Paris with reality, psychiatrists said.

... After a relatively short period of only three months or so, Japanese immigrants expecting to find a haven of civilisation and elegance instead discover a tougher existence with many problems dealing with the French.

"They make fun of my French and my expressions", "they don't like me" and "I feel ridiculous in front of them" are common refrains heard by the doctors.

The UK's Times Online offers a few more details:

Tadahiko Kondo, 59, a conference organiser, said he fell ill when he first arrived in France. “Everything was unpleasant. People were cold, rude and never smiled. It is completely different in Japan. Especially the girls who come to France thinking it is all about Louis Vuitton and gastronomy. They become depressed because France is not like that,” he added.

What an interesting phenomenon. In my experience, the Japanese in general, including the media, public education, etc., do have a tendency to only talk about the good parts of most foreign cultures, particularly European ones. (The only exception I can think of being America, and recently North Korea.) I think this contributes to an overly simplistic world view, including skewed ideas on security issues, but that's an issue for another post.

The very few French people I've known personally have been nice. Speaking of which, The Diplomad has something genuinely nice to say about (certain) Frenchmen.

And, since this is my French-themed post for the year, here's a good, recent article over on The Dissident Frogman, a blog by a Frenchman who is actually on our side.

(Mug tip for the Paris Syndrome articles to Tim Blair.)

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