The Black Notebook


“On Y va!” Tonight we leave for Concarneau. Back to France. It’s my third visit in six months. I truly cannot wait to get back onto the continent. More than anything I have missed mainland Europe’s culture. Moving from Italy to England the cultural difference is quite noticeable. I find it much easier to relate to the French way of doing things than to the English way.

This year with my trip to Brittany in October and to Paris in January, I have had a chance to polish up my French. From the age of eleven I studied the language for three years. To my delight I have found that my communication skills are much better than I thought they would be. Being already bilingual I have always found it easy to get to grips with other languages. My Spanish for example is also quite good. So compared to many people that would struggle placed in this different environment, culture and language I cannot wait to get stuck into it. I truly believe that to understand and thrive in another country “We must learn the culture just as we must learn the language” (Hooker, 2003). The best way of doing this is by engaging with the local community. Everyone is proud of their own cultural identity; I have found that locals are more likely to accept you and open up to you, if they see you making an effort to understand their culture.

This is what I find so appealing about traveling. Not going to visit the main tourist attractions, but engaging with the different cultures. Learning the language and understanding what identifies a different community. Concarneau is perfect for this. Simenon depicts such a vivid portrait of the French village and its people that I cannot wait to find out if the town has remained true to his description. Of course I understand that this is a different time from the one Simenon describes, but is Concarneau still a small village where everyone knows everyone? Will I be able to recognise the regulars, the established customers, in the Admiral Hotel Cafe? Will I still find the weekly market stalls in the square just off the Quai de l’Aiguillon? Our ferry lands in Roscoff tomorrow morning. Before lunch we should be in Concarneau. I guess it won’t be long until I find out.

Hooker, J., 2003. Working across cultures. s.l.: Stanford University Press