Thursday, 19 March 2015

French connection

Where I live...

I never actively looked for French friends since I'm in Ireland. In my mind, I was going to a new country, my main goals were to speak English and discover another culture. I didn't really want to speak French and I didn't see the point of hanging around with people from my native country.

Of course, I came across French people along the way. I used to live with  a French girl in the host family I stayed in when I arrived, and when I lived in Swords with Fabrice, our neighbour was also French. Both have become really good friends.

I also had about a hundred French colleagues when I worked in a call-centre, but I wasn't really socialising with them. At the time, I really wanted to do my best to integrate in Ireland and as I explained in a previous post, the majority of them went back home after a few months so there was no point in investing in a friendship that wouldn't have lasted. 

Eight years ago, we bought an apartment in a seaside village and during all that time, I never bumped into a French person. And as I was working with mainly Irish people, I didn't make any new French friends. I didn't look for them either to be honest.

But now it seems that the wheel has turned once more. I'm back working with French people in an Irish company, so I actually get the best of both worlds. I don't work in French as such, but I have to mentor and supervise French students. Well, soon, because the current student started before me. I'll be able to share my knowledge and experience of the Irish way of life, but the only thing they won't get is to really improve their English, unless we decide to ban French talk in the office (which would be hard because we're the only ones in the office).

Sometimes life works in unexpected ways, like it's giving you signs or something. After 8 years in the same village, not coming across any French people, I bumped into two of them the same week. First at the Paddy's day parade in a nearby town. I was minding my own business when the guy next to me started to talk to me in French. He obviously overheard me speaking to the kids. I discovered he lived just up the road from us, and  had been there for the past 7 years! We exchanged numbers, so hopefully, we'll get to introduce our respective husband & wife soon. 

I met the other one yesterday. One of my friend was supposed to mind the boys but couldn't because of a family issue, so I had to take a half-day and pick up Ciaran at school. Something I never do because I work full-time. As I was waiting for the bell, a mother approached me and asked me in French if I was Ciaran's mother. As it happened, boths kids are in the same class. And she also works full time, so never gets to collect her daughter. Yesterday was an exception, just like me.  And the mad thing is, she works in a company where I had a job interview last year. Except I didn't get the job because I couldn't sell excavator buckets in Spanish to Latin American customers. I'm good, but I'm not that good.

The world is small. Ireland is really small. And my village is tiny, but the French seem to be well represented around here. I used to really try and stay away from them, but now that I'm well and truly integrated it doesn't bother me any more. Friendship is friendship and it doesn't matter where you come from. What matters is the connection between people.