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Don’t Look Back In Anger (I heard them say)

Bored and Old
Bored and Old

I didn’t slam the door when I left. I closed it quietly. I just saw the world and got addicted to it – I can’t be blamed, can I ?

Leaving France was not an obligation but just an option. A very tempting one, mind you. The world might be watching us eat, smoke and have sex with a disdainful smile, yet it casts envious eyes. But we know the other side of the story : no jobs, almost impossible to rent a place to live, a country stuck in the days of its glory.

I wasn’t angry though. France is still a nice place to grown up in and I’m grateful for the education I received there. All in all, there’s nothing wrong about being French. But nothing to brag about either.

I’ve never felt the slightest hint of patriotism, thus making things easier when I left. Nonetheless, as every single immigrant moving to a new home, I got a mild case of “better at home” syndrome when I first came here. Canadian food wasn’t as tasty as French’s, the TV programs sucked, there were no culture and no history and, of course, snow was too cold (and ice too icy, that goes without saying). This is commonplace. Immigrants are supposed to go through this phase, a love/ hate relationship with their adoptive country. Some will never get over it and will desperately try to bring home with them, more or less successfully. But I think I was cured sometimes during my first year in Canada.

What I wasn’t aware of was the reverse culture shock.

Once I adapted to Canada, French little failings stuck out miles. Watching French news on TV5 became a painful experience – I just couldn’t stand the constant whining, the political inertia, the historical resentments that had been building up for years and made moving forward impossible. It was even more painful considering I’m left-wing. I just wasn’t supposed to think in terms of profit, efficient and respect for the rules.

I watched the last again last night, where French were complaining about speed checks. A driver caught by a speed trap was interviewed and bitched about having being arrested for going 180km/ hour on the freeway : “but it’s a straight line !”. Gee, the speed limit is already 130km/ hour, what else do you want ? But no, if the government is fining these need-for-speed drivers, it’s just because it needs the money. Not because France lags behind en term of road safety in Europe. Not at all.

When I first came to Canada, I stared at the newspapers box outside wondering how long it would be before someone trash it. Guess what : it never happened. People put in 25 cents, pick one newspaper and close it. Try the same thing in France and it won’t last the day. For God sake, the pavement was removed and replaced by asphalt in Paris because demonstrators would throw them at the police ! French have to rebel, that’s just the way it is.

When I was in France, it sounded like the right thing to do. I did it too : I don’t think I ever paid for a bus ticket and I would have never paid for the train either if it weren’t for the ubiquitous cops everywhere. We like to challenge the government, young or old, rich or poor. But seeing that from aboard and realizing it made me realized how stubborn we can be sometimes.

I’m still a rebel at heart. But I know my enemies. I try not to be against change. North America, a continent I had been told so many stereotypes about, gave me a future. What am I supposed to believe anymore ? Obviously, there are some downsides here too. I sometime wish people were a little bit more combative, wish they would demand accountability from the government, I wish they took more part in politic. But I certainly respect this “commonsense” which prevail upon blind rebellion.

I feel like I turned old and boring. If my mum would read that… she’d probably demonstrate against it !

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