How five extra minutes can French-ify your day

By Molly Grosskreutz
Arts and Entertainment Editor

     Five minutes.
Five minutes are being tacked onto the end of each class at Viterbo starting this fall, and many of us returning to campus are wary those five minutes are going to feel like forever (fortunately for you, freshmen, you won’t know the difference).
At least as the year begins, I’m sure my eyes will wander to the clock expectantly at the 50-minute mark, and my mind will wander elsewhere.
Probably to my memories of my recent trip to France, where I spent five weeks for a summer research project and to visited some friends.
During my time there, I learned some valuable lessons: Notably, that time is conceptualized and utilized so differently than it is here in America.   For us, five minutes is pocket change (outside of the classroom, where those same minutes seem to drag on). They add up to a Youtube video, a song on our iPods or a few whacks of the snooze button.
For French people, five minutes are much more valuable, and yield many more life-enriching results. With five minutes, French college students…

1)     Get dressed in the morning. They peel off their sweatpants and hoodies and attend even morning classes in flattering jeans, well-tailored, tucked-in shirts and blouses, belts, blazers and nice shoes.

2)     Not just consume, but enjoy their food. If I were in a relationship with food, our Facebook relationship status would be “it’s complicated.” The past three years I’ve been a college student, I’ve done a significant amount of “cooking” (meaning microwaved meals) for myself, but I don’t enjoy it. My developed palate consists of what I can prepare the fastest and tastes the least crappy (I highly recommend Lean Cuisine chicken alfredo) because, like all other college students, I have other things I need to be doing. Like homework or being on Facebook.  I scarf down my mac ‘n cheese then continue my important work of watching cute cat videos on Youtube.

In France, food matters. One pays a great deal of attention to what enters his or her mouth, and one’s entire day is structured around very rigid mealtimes.

3)     Tighten their relationships in person by greeting each of their peers in the room one-on-one.  Every time two people meet, whether they know one another or not, they either shake hands or “air-kiss” one anothers’ cheeks.  This can take just a few seconds if the group is small but can take up to five minutes if there are many people in the room.
Experts say it takes approximately 40 days to permanently establish a new habit. I was in France for 35 days, which is pretty darn close. That being said, I became quite used to spending a little more time getting myself dressed, enjoying my food, and connecting with people one-on-one. I found that doing each of those things significantly improved my confidence, my tranquility and my mood.
I’m not saying we need to completely alter the way we dress, eat and greet people, but if we spent our time a little more carefully, it would improve our hectic lives as the semester begins.

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