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

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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 !


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Although I’ve only been to Ontario for only a couple of days and many mamy times to Paris I do sense & see the difference between the two countries.

    Don’t look back now that you are embracing Canadian lifestyle Zhu and I know you are an adventurous person, just love your attitude 😀

    Have a wonderful weekend pal.

  2. “will desperately try to bring home with them” OMG! That’s me! People come to our house & say this is what they imaging a canadian cottage might look like. Snowshoes on the wall, small birchbark canoe on the mantel,…I’ve brought trees & rocks back too.

  3. looking bak is ok…from time to time we need to do that. Cos we remain to be a big part of our pasts as well.

    Good luck babez! Enjoy ur new life!

  4. Oooo, I like your comment page! I also subscribed to your new home..are ya liking it better?

    I just wanted to come say hello…can’t stay, Truett (my littly biddy man) is being a whiney butt today so I better git. Take care:)

  5. Ahhhh, a passionate French girl in Ottawa. There’s so much I enjoy about the way you write and express yourself. I agree with you that people should fight for what is right. The trouble is in some places (including England), some people will fight for the sake of a fight. The one thing I do believe is that people shouldn’t whine if they are not willing to stand up and protest when things are wrong.

    Enjoy your weekend (and try not to wreck the pavement!!!) G x

  6. Indeed, France really needs to boost itself up a bit doesn’t it.

    After all, it’s a permanent UN security council members and have some of the best cuisine in the world not to mention the woman hahahah! Pardon that 😛

    I hope the new president Sarkozy will take France forward because it has so much to share with the world.

  7. Reverse culture shock happened to me too. When I moved to Spain, everything Spanish was wonderful, and everything American sucked. Now, I can see the good and bad of both countries, but I still prefer living in Spain. 🙂

  8. Shionge : I like my life there, but I do look back… sometimes. Just to see the road behind me 😉

    Spyder : do you import snow as well ? 😆 Your #1 Canadian item !

    Keshi : I’m sure you understand what I meant, being an immigrant yourself !

    Silverneurotic : yes, rebelling against everything is too much. But being a sheep… I try not to be.

    Lori : Now I have a good grip on it, I like WP best. But it was a headache at first !

    Graham : thanks ! 😉 In France we always see English as very quiet citizens who don’t challenge the gov’ much – I realize how untrue this is, cause from North America we have a total different view ! I guess you guys are in the middle… UK is a very interesting place indeed.

    Shan: well, I doubt Sarkozy will do much for France. I hate the guy to be honest… He’s omniscient but he has a big ego problem. Not the right person in my opinion !

    Theresa : it’s hard to fit in somewhere after a few moves, isn’t it !

  9. Zhu… This post has certainly provoked my thoughts… My case is a bit diff… I’m a passionate Indian… I’m n canada for a work purpose.. So I knw its temporary.. I’m OK with Canada.. I take things as it comes.. But defntly I look for the day to head back after this assignment….

  10. Hey Zhu!

    No, you can’t definitely be blamed! I, too, saw the world and was addicted to it :).

    I feel like nodding to everything you’re saying (since I experienced the same things) and write nothing else. But then I wouldn’t be Max! lol lol
    Yes, the French are always whinning, they sound like a bunch of spoiled brats! I mean, they have no reason to complain that much…I lived there for a year and a half, and let me tell you that France compared to Portugal is like Paradise: when I walked to the park to meditate, I was saluted by everybody – Chinese, Africans, Indians, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Italians – along the way; and I felt good about it. I shall not mention what happens in my neighbourhood, so that I won’t be accused of smearing the country’s good social image lol. However, many times I said “Portuguese food is much better than the French! Even our cakes are better!” lol lol so I guess it is the same for every foreigner who moves into a new country.

    lol it’s so true: nobody trashes the newspapers box in North America! It’s amazing! Zhu, we are giving the impression that Europeans are animals; but the fact is: if there were a newspaper box here, in Portugal, it wouldn’t last for a week (and I am being generous here).

    That is the beauty of travelling: it opens our horizons!
    The French demonstrate for the smallest things, it’s true. But we must face the fact that they also achieve nice things by acting that way. Governments can step on your rights, and at least the French are willing to fight for theirs. I admire that in them.

    We hear all kind of stereotypes about any country, however there’s nothing like spending some time in those countries and learn stuff from them.

    Great Post, Zhu!
    Je t’embrace,


  11. Isn’t it hard for you to be so far away from your family and friends? Moving to France was a thing you planned for a long time, or did you just spontaneity decided it one day?

  12. CM-Chap : So yes, the situation is a bit different for you. But do you look at India with different eyes now ? Do you still have the same perspective ? Just curious 😉

    Keshi : 😉

    Max : I didn’t know you lived in France for a while ! That certainly explains a lot about this little French feeling I get when I read your comments ! 😆

    French are pretty difficult. I guess they are like Americans : hate them or love them. I’m in between now… I’m sometimes almost ashamed and sometimes kinda proud of the culture. But I certainly see my birth country differently now I moved to Canada !

    Traveling is wonderful… I’ve learned so much about cultures, countries, people !

    Din: I moved from France to Canada. I didn’t really planned it… it just happened ! I like my life here but yeah, I sometimes wish my family and old friends would be here…

    Diesel : thank you !

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