Maybe it’s presumptuous to post an interview that features me, but I’ve gone and done it anyway.
An old friend (as in long-time, not as in aged-like-fine-wine) and I were talking about what people would want to know from my blog. What things would be of interest to tourists? What things would a visitor to Paris or France want to know? And then the question came up: what things do you want to know about the life of an expat?
My friend came up with so many great questions, that I’ve decided to share the “interview” with you in two parts. Without further ado, I present you with her first set of very interesting questions about living life abroad, and my responses:
What does it feel like to live abroad, emotionally?
Most of the time, it feels kind of normal. At this point, anyway. I’ve got a great little network of friends, there is routine in terms of when I am able to make contact with friends and family from home, and I find myself still thinking about work too much, and personal things too little. There are definitely times when I feel isolated, like in groups where the conversation flows so fast that I can’t keep up or participate. Or when I’m up on a Saturday morning and thinking of someone from home and they’re still fast asleep…
It is also challenging, when things that were simple before are now a struggle (buying groceries, having your washing machine fixed, being allowed to live where you live). Emotionally, you either get worn down or put up war-like defenses to prepare you for the semi-constant rejection.
But on the whole, things are starting to feel familiar, and the experience is very rewarding. I often look back and realize that I am able to do things now that I couldn’t a year ago, and that feeling is worth all the emotional turmoil.
Do people think this is a phase?
Yes and no. Some people, like my Dad, say things like “I bet you’ll never come back,” and other people ask me “when are you coming home?” every time I see them, as if it’s guaranteed that I’ll return to the States. Though I do think that the more time passes with me living here, plus the addition of an amazing French boyfriend into the equation, has people expecting an imminent return less and less.
How are you treated as an American?
Not badly, at all. Actually here, believe it or not, people often can’t hear the difference between an American or British accent (though I’ve met a Frenchie, who coincidentally lives in London, who swears he can, haha), so a lot of times people realize I’m a native English speaker, but not necessarily that I’m American. Usually the first reaction upon learning my nationality is to ask where I’m from, and then to tell me some place in the States they either have been, or would like to go. Then, they always want to know what I think of France. 🙂 I often hear things like “Really? You came all the way to Paris from the US?” or “Wow! I’ve never met an American before!” And on the whole, there isn’t as much negativity towards Americans as there used to be.
Are you afraid to settle in too much since you aren’t a citizen?
Not really. My attitude is that I don’t know what’s around the corner, and I want to be open-minded and willing to go where life takes me. That means that maybe an opportunity will come up in another area, or maybe I’ll decide to apply for citizenship in France. I’ll do what feels right when it comes to making life decisions, and if that means settling in to some place here in France, that’s just what I’ll do.
Check back tomorrow, for the conclusion of my little mock interview. 🙂