Apparently, it’s May 14th today.
The calendar tells me I’ve been in France for a year now. Has a full year really gone by since I left Montreal? Sometimes I feel like I’ve been there much shorter than that, sometimes much longer. I’m a bit ambivalent when it comes to picking a side to this expat experience. When people ask me if I like living in France, my answer is almost always the same.
An awkward smile.
I wrote about the ups and down of living in France, and even though that was a few months ago, I still stand behind every word I wrote there. Yes, the French are not the most easygoing people, and yes, the bureaucracy is extremely overwhelming no matter what you want to do.
But is it normal that my favorite thing about living in France is that it’s so close to the UK?
Didn’t think so either.
I miss so many things. The city, first of all. I’m from Montreal, and I’ve lived in London – there is no doubt that I am a city girl at heart. Bring on the millions of people, the transit commutes and the hustle. Being based in a small city has affected me more than I thought it would. I feel dejected, and restless, by the tranquility of the place. My recent weekend in Paris was so invigorating – I really feed off the energy of a city, and sadly Clermont-Ferrand just doesn’t cut it.
So that’s part of the problem – living in a small French city as opposed to the metropolises I love and thrive in.
The biggest issue though, and by far, is the French language. One would think that, as a French Canadian whose first language is French, living in France would be quite easy… errr, not quite. I have to completely change the way I would naturally speak to be understood by the locals, which can get really frustrating after a while of question mark faces and arrogant corrections and “oh but your French is awful” comments. But more on that later.
There are some things that I do like – the cold meats and cheeses, the travel, the proximity to other European countries, the highways (if you’re a Montrealer you understand the importance of well-maintained roads), the apéro culture. All things that are easy to get used to, without a doubt.
But does it make up for the rest? I’ve always been told that the bad things always end up overweighting the good. And so far, I’m inclined to say that sadly, it’s true.
Anyone who’s met me in the last year knows how mixed my feelings are towards my “expat living in France” adventure.
“Meh” is probably the best word to describe how I really feel, and for such a small word, it actually says a lot. Sometimes I wonder why I ever made the move at all – but they say that home is where the heart is, and as long as my husband is under contract here, there isn’t much I can do, because living separate lives is not something I plan on doing.
So what do I do now?
I suck it up. And try to focus on the great things coming my way. The many trips I planned across Europe, the few friends I have here, the possibility of a new work contract for my husband in January, and the many blogging opportunities I’ve been working on. In overall, I definitely need to take the focus away from the bad, despite how easy it is to sulk.
Do I think my life is hard?
No. I know I’m really lucky to be in this situation, despite the daily challenges.
Do I wish I could be somewhere else?
Every day I wish I could be in the UK. But that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.
Do I need to be a big girl and get my head out of my ass?
Probably. Even though sometimes I really don’t want to.
Have you ever lived in France? What were the hardest/best parts of your experience?