Saturday, 9 July 2016

This is what happens when you've lived abroad for a long time

We almost didn't make it up there because I forgot it was a bank holiday in France!

Back in May, we went for a short week to the South of France and one of the highlights of the holidays was the trip to the mountains I booked the week before. I chose that day because the weather forecast was the best and it was just in the middle of our stay. What I didn't realise however, was the fact that it was a bank holiday. So we got stuck in a traffic jam amongst French workers who had taken a long week-end off for the occasion. Even if I'm French, I didn't know that "Ascension Thursday" was falling on that date (it changes every year), and I felt a bit stupid when I asked the newsagent why almost all the shops were closed! But ignoring your own country bank holidays is not the only thing that happens when you've lived abroad for a long time...

1 -  Speaking a mix of your native and host country's language

I speak Frenglish on a daily basis. Most of the time I use English words and frenchify them: "Je vais checker si elle m'a envoyé un message" (I will check if she has sent me a message), or "ce film a l'air intéressant, je vais le streamer online" (This movie looks interesting, I'll stream it online). Sometimes, I use an English word in a French conversation because it's the first one that comes to mind.This is not really a problem with my French colleagues or friends. We live here and we all do it because we speak both languages everyday, but it becomes a bit complicated when I do it with my parents. I'm pretty sure they don't understand me sometimes!

2- Being ignorant about current music

If you ask me what's the most popular French song at the moment, I'll be incapable of telling you. I might know one or two French current singers, but I'm not even sure they are actually popular. I was raised at a time where you discovered artists on the radio so I find it hard to go online and search by myself. Instead, I rely on my French friends in France to make me discover new songs or singers. And that only really happens when I'm in France, so once a year... I do crave for good French music though, so I'm open to any suggestions!

3- Watching your native country from an outside perspective

Of course I know what's going on in France, I read the news everyday! You might think I'm a bit of a freak, but I actually read about the same stories on different publications to compare how they are presented to the public. Then I read the comments. Ah, the comments! The best part of an article, isn't it? I would like to think they give me an insight about the general mood of the French population, but how can I know this is an accurate representation? After all, not everyone comment online and there are different opinions everywhere, which brings me to my next point...

4- Having a different perspective on your native country

Maybe you think it's the same as above, but not quite. I came to Ireland with a French mentality but as the years went by, I changed my mind about many different aspects of life. Without really realising it, my thinking became more and more Irish and less and less French. So, when I read about French problems (the new employment law for example), I analyse them with an Irish perspective. On the other hand, I am able to understand both sides, but that means I'm rarely able to take position on anything!

5- Being disconnected from your friend's lives

Of course there is Facebook to know about the big things like holidays, weddings, new jobs and so on, but it's the little things that I miss. I'm not going to ring my best friend to tell her about something funny my son said yesterday or how much I had fun at the beach at the week end, or the great night I had on Saturday. Instead, these are the things told in the office, to my neighbour, to my friends here. And the reason why it happens is because we see each other regularly. I see my best friend once or twice a year. It's the same for her, she won't ring me every time something interesting happens in her daily life! I've said it many times before, when we see each other it's like nothing has changed, but still, I know we both miss out on the little things. The little things that cement and keep long-time friendships alive.

What about you? What has changed since you moved abroad?