This blog is about what it’s like to live as an expat, peppered with posts about my travels and the cool stuff I get to see and do as someone who landed a job as a semi-jetsetter. For that reason, I have avoided posting about any topics that could be perceived as taboo. It isn’t that I don’t have opinions, but I didn’t feel that this blog was really the place to share those feelings. The funny thing is, if you know me, you know I’m pretty outspoken about what I think… I just generally don’t do it in the social media stratosphere. But recently I asked myself why I don’t share these thoughts out loud from time to time, and I didn’t like the answer I came up with: because I am scared of offending someone. But part of me feels like not saying what you think to avoid rocking the boat is kind of like lying. And I’m tired of lying to my readers… Read More →
As a follow up to yesterday’s post containing the first half of the interview, the rest of the “interview” is below (and if you’re seeing this for the first time, check out the Part 1 of this interview here):
Do you get homesick?
Another “yes and no.” I don’t get homesick in the sense of just wishing I could go home, or missing things to the point that I can’t enjoy my current surroundings. But there are events that happen: births, weddings, get-togethers… and I miss them all. Not to mention the events that I have in my life that my friends and family don’t get to be a part of. Plus I really miss my dog, Reese. She’s very well-taken care of, and I know that, but man I miss that silly, sweet, brown pup.
Do you take every experience like it’s just temporary?
I think sometimes I do, yes. I try and enjoy what I’m experiencing, for sure, but I sort of have this voice in the back of my head telling me that I don’t know how long this will last. It’s good in a way; it makes me try to see and do all that I can while I’m here. But sometimes I also feel like I’m some kind of tourist-at-all-times, never interacting in great depth with the various elements in my life.
Are you scared of having to come back?
This is a tough one. I don’t know. When I came back from studying in South Africa for 3.5 months, I had extreme reverse culture shock. The adjustment was really hard for me. I don’t think that French culture is so different from the what I was living previously that I would experience that again, but I wonder about the possible long-term negative effects I might experience.
I also feel like I’ve come to think of a lot of aspects of life in Paris as endearing, though city life in general is much grittier than what I’ve experienced in small towns and suburbs. There are cities, and then there are cities. And I think if I came back, I’d need to find a place that kept me in a continuous state of wonder and awe. It doesn’t have to be another city, but it does have to have magic.
Do you feel like you’ve accomplished something by experiencing life in another country?
Not yet. I feel like I’m not finished here. First of all, I don’t speak French as well as I would like (though I’m proud to announce that I no longer say “I don’t speak French,” and now I just say “I’m not fluent in French” because dangit, I can say a lot!). Second of all, I think there’s more to gain from living and working in another country than what I’ve gotten at this point.
Do you think that everyone should experience living abroad?
No. I don’t think it’s for everyone. I have some friends who are so close with friends or family that even vacations make them nervous, and as much as I think people should try, there are plenty who would not thrive when living outside of their comfort zones. But I do think that most people don’t even know where their boundaries of comfort lie, and living abroad can be a very positive eye-opener. I think people should at least travel to other countries, and if it appeals to someone enough, they should give being an expat a try, even if it’s only temporary.
What other questions do people want to know about the life of an expat? Are some of you out there considering making the leap? What weighs on your mind?
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. 🙂
Time to break the radio silence.
By special request, a Facebook status I posted earlier today in reference to the American Presidential election, which concluded yesterday, is here in blog form, ready to be shared:
So everyone is complaining about people’s reaction to the elections and pleading for people to stop posting about politics, but since I’ve kept relatively quiet during the election season, I apologetically use this moment to share my 2 cents:
Just like 2 parents can love the same child but have different thoughts on the best way to raise that child, the two men who ran for President of the United States this year have two different ideas about the best path for the future of our country–and both love our nation, as both parents love the child. So please, don’t consider one more or less American or patriotic than the other, and the same holds true for their followers/voters.
Now if YOU have a solution about the economy, jobs, the debt, foreign policy or any other area that you feel like the winner of yesterday’s election cannot accomplish, than your civic duty is NOT OVER. Voting IS NOT ENOUGH. If you have a solution or an idea, you need to WRITE to your local representatives and demand the change you want to see! We all want to see change, but we need to be the force that drives the change. Please, do not sit back and rejoice that the guy you voted for won, and think you don’t need to be involved in moving the country forward. Conversely, do not sit back and complain that the guy you voted for lost, and think the next four years are also lost.
I, personally, put the rights of my fellow Americans first and foremost when I make the choice to vote, because the United States were founded by people (immigrants) who wanted equality and were trying to escape oppression. If and when these items get resolved to the point where everyone is equal under American law, you will very likely see me give my vote go to the other side of the aisle. But until we can move forward in the direction of equality for ALL citizens of my country, I will continue to vote this way. And my work is not over. I will not just cast my vote and kick my feet up. There is more to be done, and I intend to participate… even from France.
The president is one man. The government is comprised of a tiny percentage of our population. WE are the people of the United States of America. We can, and NEED to, be the change.