What do French students think of their English counterparts?


By Mark Ross, Opinion Editor

The Croft Magazine // Our man in Boulogne-sur-Mer has been conducting a scientific survey at a local soirée.

Are stereotypes outdated? Is it true that these national caricatures, invented centuries ago, no longer stand? Not to the French, for whom a typical Englishman still drinks tea in a top hat. Popular culture has tried to update things, with little success. The French passion for Skins has only muddied their perception of typical Brits. So, as an ambassador for Bristol University, I was curious to understand how French university students, specifically, view their English counterparts.

What did my ‘vox pop’ of French students reveal? Well, firstly, in response to ‘who takes education more seriously?’, 100 per cent of respondents (out of a handful at a local soirée) voted for England… thanks mostly to the prime of Oxford and Cambridge. 50 per cent, however, thought French students were cleverer (the other half diplomatically opting for ‘it depends’). Asked to ‘describe British student culture in three words’, I received the positive responses of ‘rigorous’ (bit strange) and ‘open-minded’ (mentioned twice). ‘Alcoholic’ popped up more than I’d care to mention. I then tapped into a well of national pride when I asked which students dressed better… all respondents answered patriotically. Then I channelled my inner YouGov and asked which country has the most sensible politicians. All respondents answered ‘neither’.

I was hosting fellow Bristolian diplomats at the time of the poll. And, though they do resemble Poldark and Simon Basset, I hope their visit helps local French students to realise that, on the inside, their English counterparts aren’t too different from themselves.

Featured Image: Epigram / Mark Ross