Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Oh the places I've been

I had lunch with a friend last week. She's a foreigner too. But not from the US. Anyway, she spent most of the lunch complaining about France and the French. Which brought bad memories flooding back.

When you choose to live in a foreign country, you go through several phases. Don't ask me how many phases there are - I have no idea. I've only been living here 10 years. Ask me in another 10. Maybe.

The first year can go either way, depending on why you came. My first year in France was as an English TA at the University of Nantes. I was 25 and very happy to be here. The differences were enchanting. I came back for in when I was 27. I spent the year teaching English at two different places and planning my wedding. It was a rough year. An American friend and I spent most of the year complaining. Oh the strikes, oh the anti-Americanism, oh the anti-social women, oh the bad television, oh the confusing sexual politics. Husband and my friend's Husband (who were both fianc├ęs at the time) staged an intervention. Told us to stop bitchin' or stop spending time together because we were making everyone miserable. They were right.

When I got back from lunch, I was so happy. So happy to not be in that place anymore, where everything rubs the wrong way, where every incomprehension is a slight and every difference is a cultual misunderstanding.

8 comments:

nicole said...

I'm glad you've made it through 10 years and can help us newbies get through it. Thanks!

Laura said...

hey, we emailed earlier this year...i was an english assistant in Laval a couple of years ago and now find myself heading back to visit some friends next week. I'd be happy to bring you something from the States that you're craving, just let me know!

beth said...

Glad to hear that you're happy!

Amy H said...

Holy cow, I've totally been there. The funny part is when you do the flip-flop and start criticizing your own country and comparing it negatively to your new. And then everything kind of settles down and you see the good and bad in both. At least that was my experience!

Reb said...

It's a rollercoaster, huh? And it sure feels damn good to at least understand where you are even if you can't always under where they're coming from.

beth said...

ps - my mom's in town - she says hi

Lorraine said...

That intervention story made me laugh. Probably wasn't supposed to, but it did.

Nicole said...

Nicole - I'm 10 years older, not necessarily 10 years wiser!

Laura - That is so nice of you! Martha Stewart Living current issue if you see it at the airport. But no big deal. I'd love to meet you when you come. I'm in the phone book.

Beth - Hi to Mom!

Amy - Totally. although, since Bush has been president, I've seen more bad at home than here.

Reb - Exactly.

Lorraine - It makes me laugh now too.