mercredi 13 février 2008
Thanks to Meredith's (Poppy Fields) post about the English Bookstores in Aix, I went today during my lunch break to Book In Bar. I walk in and oh my god! tons of books in English! Up until now I have been subsisting on the meager selection in Virgin Megastore, FNAC, and the city library (which I am now too lazy to go to on my days off and too cheap to pay the 25€ per year fee) as well as re-reading all the books I have several times. Thought about joining the Book Fountain, a book service like Netflix for 96€ per year. But considering how I would only read at maximum two books per month, it probably wouldn't be worth it.
But anyway, back to the point of this post.
Up until this point in My Life in France, I have been pretty used to NOT having contact with other Americans. There aren't too many in Marseille (or if there are, they must be in hiding). Occasionally there will be some tourists in summertime or when we go to visit other cities we come across some Americans. Up in Paris there is quite a large ex-pat community, including the Association of American Wives of Europeans. They get together for handicraft nights, book clubs, lecture series, to celebrate American holidays (4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc), and commiserate together about living in France. I am a member, but besides the bi-monthly newsletter, I don't really get out of it. I think if I was living in Paris I would be more involved.

There was a point, early on, where I would approach other Americans and talk to them- find out where they are from, what they are doing here, etc.
But now I don't feel that need.

So like I said, it is strange for me to now be in a town that has a lot of American students and to pass them in the streets. I don't feel like their experience has anything in common with mine. I feel, well, better than them in a way. They are just passing through. They don't have to deal with all of the things that I have had to deal with- medical insurance and carte de sejours (which I am still waiting on by the way, they are even slower than last year!) all the rigmarole of getting married here, buying an apartment, getting my driver's license. They aren't INVESTED in France. They don't care about the elections or what the education system will be like in ten years or retirement funds or anything.
So it is a strange feeling. Sometimes if I am with Alain I will switch over into speaking French to him when there are other native English speakers around. It isn't so that they don't understand me, nor to deny that I am American. Perhaps I don't want to be approached?
When I walked into the bookstore, I could hear that there were other Americans there. I don't know if they were students or not. I suppose it is judgemental of me- they could well have been working in Aix too, I don't know. Perhaps they are students who will end up finding a Frenchman and staying. I felt strangely shy. Perhaps it is because I am older than them, I don't know.
Do other ex-pats feel this way?

2 commentaires:

Ksam a dit…

It depends, but I'd say on the whole, I rarely talk to other foreigners I come across in stores or on the street. I mean, I kind of feel like what's the point? Though I guess that means I could be missing out on potential friends who actually DO live here full-time...

screamish a dit…

yeah...when I first arrived in Marseille, with no French, I famously went 6 weeks without having a conversation with anyone but my boyfriend.

During that time I actually followed two American girls in la Veille Charité museum listening to them chat, just to listen to English...;

now years later I'm more relaxed! I don't know about the expat community/clubs..i think it might damage your chances of settling down, if you plan on that.

Most of the time they seem to be complaining, anyway...! (especially the English, don't know what the Americans are like, probably much more positive?)

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