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I would add 4 groups based on what made them quit the UK: the Thatcher diaspora, the Blair haters, the rent refugees, and those who want to escape street jihad, CCTVs, ASBOs and council dustbin inspectors. Most reckon England has gone down the pan but for different reasons. So I can't be sure they are distinct groups. I sympathise with all of them, though I never lived under Blair.
everybody seems to have a different take on what being integrated and speaking French fluently mean according to their needs and wishes. How long does it take to learn French - to what level...?
You are making assumptions that we are not trying to integrate simply because we feel that if the french are going to have specific MP's for their ex-pats, we would, at least, like to be on an equal footing.
We have more french friends here than we do in the Brit community. We live in south Burgundy which is not exactly an ex-pat ghetto.
I can't see your photo, so can't tell how old you are and that, believe it or not, does have a bearing on how long it takes to learn or to become proficient in another language.
I'm pleased to see that you are for "Keeping it Real", so perhaps you can try to understand that there are specific problems for specific groups of people, to whom you may or may not belong.
Depends how you define integration?! Everyone seems to have a different view on it and sometimes I find the ones that harp on about integration are the ones that are furthest away from it in reality.
I agree with you Lesley, I t hink most of us are a mixture! I definitely think that I'm "keeping it real" though!
As for the language well, it will depend how often you get to practice, whether you're shy of making mistakes and whether you're gifted or not for languages. It took me a while of watching subtitled tv, talking on the phone and attending lessons but the day I decided that I couldn't care less whether people understood me or not was the day that I started progressing leaps and bounds. I'm sure you'll get there!
I'd like to think I am in the 'Keeping it real' group but aren't we all a bit of a mixture? I do feel sorry for any ex-pat who won't try to integrate, at least a little, because however much they protest otherwise they must feel pretty lonely! How long does it take to really learn the language by the way?
ding... that resonates with the world I saw in Paris..... only the "houses" were apartments, and the big deal was whether or not it was in a classy arrondisment.
gladly, Haute Savoie folk are much more laid back, maybe because they're forced to integrate a little more down here.
Sounds a bit like living in Australia!
I have found the 'we were here first' groups of Brits in France - those who do not want to include any newcomers into their little 'circle' and talk endlessly in the local supermarket, whilst blocking up the aisles with their group trolleys, in very very loud voices about 'the committee'', 'the shared lunch', etc and generally think they are superior because they have been in France 'for ages and ages' - (you usually find that these 'ages' are at least two years and that they also have a home in the UK)- those that consider themselves better because they live in a large heap they are expensively restoring, whilst sneering at Brits who have done that, been there, spent all the money and now have small retirement bungalows in amongst the French - one even referred to ours as 'its a pokey little place, isn't it ?' - yes, and its wonderful ! After the 6 bedroom restoration project in Brittany and at the ages of 78+ we had the sense to admit it was too much, and not to moan endlessly about it to anyone who would listen ! I wouldn't knock the UK, or France, but having said that would love to return to the Spanish island we lived on for five years - except that, of course, we a) could never sell our house to be able to afford it, and b) it is too much hassle ! I like living amongst only French people - they are never (at least where we are) heard saying 'your house is bigger - more expensive - better built- than mine' or 'your car is newer, more expensive, better than mine'.....and endlessly droning on about house prices, school fees, costs of this that and the other ......I am glad to be rid of those dinner parties where the sole topics of discussion were the above .......vive la difference !
Unfortunately, both travelers were very hungry and sadly had arrived in the town after 2pm and had to hold their hunger until the dinner hour, because lunch hour had ended. But anyway, very nice story.
Ooh I do love your posts AM! They always make me smile in a nice positive way! xx
very very wise story :-) Very well put :-)
I think I am in the keep it real group ? Love France so much, hubby french, first lads born in England 3rd born in France !
All 3 have their British passports :-) However they consider themselves very french :-) No hard feelings lads I promise :-) LOL
However when I go back home I love to shop on a Sunday, I love to go for a curry after the pub, I love to have fish and chips out of the paper, I just love to go back to my roots LOL, (and I also go straight back into my Brummy accent LOL)
However living in France has been a dream for me, of course we have had ups and downs, who hasn't ????? But life here is great, I have the best job ever LOL and I suppose this does help, I love talking to my English friends, I love SFN and am really happy to have found this site, I also love my french friends and family, so I suppose I chose the correct group :-)
How lucky we are to be in this group
oh how true - excellent!
Once upon a time, a traveler from a far and distant town approached a wise man that was just leaving the city into which the traveler was entering. The traveler stopped the wise man and said, "Can you tell me about the city from whence you have just come? What is the quality and character of the citizens here?"
The wise man replied, "First stranger, tell me: What were the people like in the last town you visited?"
The traveler replied, "Oh, they were a cold bunch of people with no kind words for anyone. It was not a happy town. They were very judgmental, and the people were mean-spirited and unwelcoming. I couldn't get out of that town fast enough."
The wise man paused and then replied, "Ah.I believe you will discover that the citizens of this town are exactly the same."
A short distance farther down the road, the wise man encountered another distant traveler entering the city. And likewise, the traveler asked the same question of the wise man, saying, "What is the quality and character of the citizens of this city, sir?"
Again, the wise man replied, "First stranger, tell me: What were the people like in the last town you visited?"
The traveler replied, "Oh, they were an amazing group of people! They were outgoing and friendly and welcomed me with open arms. They were unconditionally loving, and I felt like each one was my brother or sister. Oh, I miss them greatly."
The wise man paused and then replied, "Ah. I believe you will discover that the citizens of this town are exactly the same."
(I love living in France.)
great article, and I love the comments. I have not been here very long, but, I work in hotels, so I see both expats who live here, and one time holidaymakers from abroad.
I find the people who don't actually live here seem to think they've psychoanalysed "the french", and see them all as being the same, whereas, for those that have made the move, we know the nice lady in the post office that is helpful, we see our neighbour who struggles to understand us, but always has a big hello, and we know the people we work with who would do anything for us if we were ever in a pickle. We also know the people in the post office who will skip right to the top of a long queue as soon as they've come in the door.
I take people as they come, expats, locals, and holidaymakers. that includes some people who i've met that have made me feel almost ashamed to be Irish. I've learned to be less judgemental, and i think one thing is very important, to integrate into the society we live in, be a part of it, neighbour, friend, and meet the locals.
what's the point of moving country if you're just going to stay in a bubble,and not even learn the language.
Hi I guess if I was living in France this this group of people would be the ones I would feel most akin!
We have been renovating our house for 5 years whilst holding down jobs in the UK. Things are getting toughter though as job "cuts" in my employment are imminent. But it could be the push we need!
Good to read all your comments and what groups to avoid! I admit we have met a few ! Is there one for those that insist 'all the French can underastand English but pretend not too? " Or is that just for the tourists! I speak, read, and even dream in French, some say if you dream in French, you've made it! I hope so.
We'll be moving from a busy town to the French countryside but we were both bought up in the 'Garden of England' on farms used to cold winters . We know it will be a different lifestyle but we embrace a change.
Oh so true Jo, and why do they always speak very loudly so everyone knows they are Brits and they think they have to shout to be understood.
We have friends who seem to belong to all of those groups and we can never understand why they stay here!! They are also in the group that Richard Robinson mentions too!!!
Not sure which group we belong to as we are here for 6 months (but want to be here longer) and back in the UK for 6 months. Until we sell our house over there and expand the house here we will continue to travel for a while yet. We love everything about where we live in France and also like our home in the UK but getting on a bit (both in our 60s) we can't upkeep both houses forever.
Since finding this SFN site I am seeing a few more opinions too and also meeting some lovely people. We have found that some of the Brits in this area are very clique and we really don't want to be part of a Brit clique, we have many French friends here too who cannot understand why these people don't mingle more with the French, neither can we.
I have to agree about the doing your homework part, also love "Roll with the blows and grab the happy moments" that someone said. Oh well must go prepare a nice lunch of local bread, cheeses and pate. You can't beat the good food in France that is for sure.
Carol in Mirambeau