Many of us think of France as somewhat similar to the United States. While the French speak a different language and eat different foods, I’ve learned that life in France isn’t extremely different from American life! For this interview, I asked my friend Ishak (pronounced ees-hack) about his daily life. We spoke in French, and I took these notes in English.
Ishak was one of the first students I met when I arrived in France. I see him often because he lives in the dorm next to mine. Ishak is a very kind and helpful person. While he has lived most of his life in France, he is originally from Algeria. This is common for many immigrants in France. I like to spend time with him drinking Algerian mint tea and talking about living in France as an Algerian Muslim. Can you find Algeria on the map? How far is it from France?
What is your full name?:
Ishak Afrit (pronounced ees-hack ‘aaf-reet)
Where do you live? What is your house like?
Ishak comes from Mantes-La-Jolie (maht la zholi), a suburb of Paris. As you know by now, Paris is the capital city of France. He normally lives with his family in a small apartment. Right now, while he is a student, he lives in Menton in the room next to mine. He has two roommates. One is an American student from Washington, D.C. and one is a Turkish student from Ankara.
What is your family like?
Ishak lives with his mother, father, brother and sister. His brother Brahim is 23 years old and his sister Sabrina is 25 years old. Both are also studying in universities in Paris.
How do you get around?
Ishak likes to walk to most places, but takes buses and trains when he needs to. He says Paris has a great public transportation system, and the subway and train lines usually run all the time. In Menton, however, he only walks. He does not have a car and does not know how to drive, but wants to learn how.
What types of clothing do you like to wear?
Ishak likes to wear what he calls “streetwear.” He usually wears t-shirts with images on them that mean something to him. Some of his t-shirts have the Algerian flag, for example. He also likes to wear hats. Many other people that live in his neighborhood wear similar clothes. When he goes to the mosque to pray, he wears a long robe called a jellaba (jel-laabaa).
What do you like to do in your free time?
Because Ishak lives in Paris, he has many options when he has free time. He likes to go out to cafes with friends. He also likes to watch films and television. From time to time, he watches manga and anime shows . Above all, however, he loves going to the gym. He works out in the gym almost every day, and likes to lift weights.
What language(s) do you speak? How do you say “Hello” in your language?
Ishak speaks many different languages! He knows French, Spanish, English, Modern Standard Arabic and the Algerian dialect of Arabic. He usually speaks French with his friends, but with his family he speaks a mix of Algerian and French. He is studying English and Modern Standard Arabic in college, and he says that this type of Arabic is very different from Algerian Arabic.
In both types of the language, however, you would say “Salaam Aleykum” (suh-laaam ‘aa-lay-kom) or just “Salaam” to say “Hello”.
Do you have pets?
Ishak does not have any pets, but he would like to have a dog some day.
Have you traveled? Where have you traveled to?
Ishak has traveled to many places in the world! He has been in Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Monaco, Italy and Saudi Arabia. For spring break, he went to Barcelona, Spain. This summer he might go to Morocco and Egypt. Have you been to any of these countries? Which countries would you like to visit?
What do you do for work?
Ishak doesn’t work when he is at school. He gets a lot of homework and does not have time for a job! But during vacation, he likes to help his parents and siblings any way he can.
Is there anything else you would like to say to students in the United States?
Ishak encourages you all to visit France and North Africa if you can! He also wanted to say that he would love to visit the United States one day. He would love to live in the United States if he could because of the freedom Americans have. . What about you? Would you like me to tell Ishak anything? Do you have any other questions to ask him? I’m looking forward to your questions!