Apologies for the break of the past two weeks… I’ve been a little busy dealing with some of the bureaucratic niceties of becoming an expat. Mind you, not from the French, but from the US! A friend had warned me that some US agencies are a little difficult to deal with when it comes to living outside of the borders. Who needs a wall (sorry for the semi-political barb there — well, not THAT sorry)?
Fall is definitely becoming more apparent here in the Pas de Calais. It’s funny — today I noticed how low the sun was and it reminded me of how the sun drops SO very low in Fairbanks this time of year. It was then I remembered just how far north I am here. And it got me thinking about map projections and such…
And I’ve spent a few days, thinking about the expat experience in general, and that of Americans and Brits especially here in France. And even MORE time thinking about my own experiences to date.
Why do we leave our home countries? What are we seeking — or are we, necessarily, seeking anything? I have friends that are expats “in name” only — work or marriage has taken them from their country of origin and plopped them down in any number of places. And I have some friends who have voluntarily sought out the challenges of leaving to live elsewhere.
When I was in the States, I certainly moved more than the average citizens, at least in terms of distance if not frequency. It ALMOST felt like this, but not quite.
Does it bother me to go into the market, say the marché at Saint-Omer on a Saturday, to subject myself to the challenge of not really speaking enough French to explain that the carburetor’s butterfly valve has essentially self-destructed (another story, perhaps another time), but believing that my willingness to make a fool of myself in trying to order a couple of kilos of cheese or paella from the local wizards will be met with kindness, understanding, and a basic attempt to communicate (and having it proven, repeatedly). So I am baffled by someone who has lived, not just in this country, but THIS town for the past 11-odd years chooses not to engage with the community more than they do.
Being as they are British, I wondered if that might be the cause of the condition. I believe I’m not saying anything amiss to suggest that the British expats in northern France seem to be trying to establish a “little Britain” deep in the cœur de Nord… or at least, it would certainly seem that way.
Je ne sais pas… so here’s a picture of the closest local café, instead. And I can guarantee it’s the real thing. Perhaps I’ll be able to post some pics from inside soon. Stay tuned…
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