When you’re in a new culture, it’s inevitable that you’ll make a fool of yourself on more than one occasion. My best faux pas to date was early on in my career in Caen when I was introduced to my friend Francois and mistook his name for his nationality. I still blush when I think of it. Today, the faux pas was done to me.

The French are thin. They walk everywhere, they cook healthfully and they exercise too. When I go shopping, I keep in mind that none of the pants will fit me mainly because the sizes don’t get to “American” and the other reason being that I don’t do skinny jeans in the United States, save France.

Now, before you start patting me on the back, telling me I’m not fat, etc, let me just say that I have a relatively healthy self-esteem and am in all respects perfectly average. However, other peoples’ perceptions based on cultural and association tend to skew even my levelheadedness. Now on to the faux pas.

Seong-Yul is Korean. In case you’ve never noticed, Asian women tend to be about the size (relatively) of toothpicks. So, in class, as we described each other’s physical characteristics, hair color (I’m the only blonde) and lack or presence of eyeglasses, Seong-Yul, God bless him, said that I was “rond.”

Rond in French means “portly,” or a derivation thereof. In any case, it certainly doesn’t mean thin and my professor freaked out after realizing what Seong-Yul had said. Poor Seong-Yul didn’t know what to do. He tried to backpedal and reassure me in some sort of Franglaean (French-English-Korean) that I wasn’t fat, that wasn’t what he meant and I could do nothing but laugh.

I tell you what, there IS a better motivation than a dressing room to dieting. It’s a sneaky tactic called “Adjectives Lesson in French.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go exercise.

Why yes, yes I do like sugar. Why do you ask?

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