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10 Clues I’m Still French

Stop Sign In Montreal
Stop Sign In Montreal

I don’t think I’m your typical French.

First, people seem to be surprised when I acknowledge I’m French: apparently, I look Latina, Russian, Spanish, Italian… anything but French. Second, I must admit I’m an awful French: I can’t sing the national anthem, La Marseillaise but for the first two lines; I didn’t travel my birth country much, I wouldn’t know how to rent an place, find a job or deal with the administration anymore because I left after graduating from high school. And last, I have an underdeveloped patriotic sense and didn’t even party when France won the World Cup in 1998 (I actually bitched about the noise and the fact that drunk fans puked all over the city).

Yet, I am French. I don’t mind it. I like to call myself a “word citizen” but this is the country where I was born, where I grew up and where I was educated.

And it occasionally catches up with me…

Smoking: I smoke. Well, duh: it’s my genetic and cultural heritage after all! That said, I don’t drink pricey grape juice like many of my peers.

Cheese cravings: and I can eat even the stinkiest ones. That includes blue cheese and runny Camembert. Not very glamorous, I know… this is one of my deep dark secret. That said, I don’t usually eat cheese in Canada because the imported stuff is expensive and I don’t like the local cheese.

I loves politics: and deep down, I think that there is no problem that can’t be solved through a good demonstration or strike. North American’s general indifference to politics drives me crazy. The first time I witnessed a demonstration in Canada (five people walking in circle holding placards in front of the Parliament), I almost wanted to step in to teach them how to do it.

Scarves as a fashion accessory: sure, it’s cold in Canada. But I must admit that the number one reason why I love scarves is because they are soft and look pretty. I have been told that French women have an inimitable way of wearing scarves… is it true?

Awkward tipping: I’m now used to tipping 10% to 20% in restaurants, but I still don’t understand people who tip a lot at hair salons or spas. I mean, stylists or massage therapists don’t work minimum wage, do they? I don’t see why I should tip $20 on top of an already very expensive (yet straightforward) haircut. And where do we draw the line? Why tip an employee at the convenience store but not your doctor? Is there anybody I’m not supposed to tip? I’m starting to wonder…

Driving: like most of you know by now, I’m a shitty driver and I’d rather walk everywhere. Unlike pretty much everybody here, I don’t see cars as a convenient way to get around. I’m still scared of driving and I wonder if I will ever get over it. I don’t know anybody here who doesn’t have a driver license (most people take it while in high school) — but in France, almost none of my friends have one.

Distances: I don’t think a city located 500 kilometers away is “right next door” like most Canadians put it. Nor I’d drive there for the day (but then, again, I don’t drive). And I still find kind of cool to live in a country with several time zones.

Fast food: let me put it this way; I’d rather stand naked in the middle of a busy street on a Saturday afternoon rather than being seen eating McDonalds or other similar crap food. Subway doesn’t count though, it’s kind of healthy. I’m still quite French when it comes to food, even if my cooking is way less elaborate than you might imagine.

I have a “yahoo.fr” email address: yes, “fr” like in France. People never seem to understand it whenever I spell it. I registered with Yahoo in 1999 and I didn’t speak English at the time, so I naturally signed up with the French Yahoo. Most people in Canada have .com or .ca email address.

Food: poutine, a hot dog or a bucket of fried chicken is not a dinner. Now, a baguette with butter, ham, cheese and pickles is. What can I say, it’s cultural… I don’t like peanut butter (and I really don’t understand people’s obsession with it), I don’t eat ice cream (it’s already cold enough in Canada) and I like croissants better than muffins.

Now, as usual, I’m curious. How about you, fellow expats, immigrants, world citizen? What did you retain from your birth country?

I’d like to ask a few of you the question: what are the 10 clues that you are still _________?

  • Bluefish, Canadian and Tawainese, now living in Denmark
  • Barbara, American from Hawaii, living in France
  • Gean, Brazilian, living in Canada
  • Los Ziegler, Argentinian, living in Canada
  • Rowena, American from Hawaii, living in Italy
  • Priyank, from India, living in Canada
  • Expat Traveler, from the U.S.A, living in Canada
  • The Writer, from Indonesia, living in Denmark

As usual, no pressure, but I’d be curious to know!

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