Salut! Tell me, if you’re an American living in France, have you ever felt like you’ve been an expat for too long? Or that maybe you’re adapting to life abroad a little too well? There are some signs that will clue you in after a certain amount of time. What are these things, you ask? Here are 15 signs you’re an American living in France who’s been here a little too long!
15 Signs you’re an American living in France for too long
I’ve been living in the Loire Valley part of France for almost 4 years now with my French husband Tom and some of these signs below are becoming the norm. And I hope a few others never do! Do any of these sound like you? Don’t worry, fellow American expats, they’re endearing qualities for the most part. 😉
Here are the top signs you’ve been an expat in France for too long:
1. You start forgetting words that used to just come to you naturally in the United States. You also start saying things like French people would say them. Things like, “practice sports” “take a decision” and “Explain me how you did that” in English when you’re not paying attention. And you’ll throw in the occasional French word if you can’t think of the English one right away. Language barrier, be gone!
2. You forget how to spell common words in English and start writing them the French way. Biggest offenders? Is it appartement or apartment in English? And you pause when spelling words in your mother tongue because you almost wrote pharmacie and not pharmacy.
3. When the line out the door at the boulangerie doesn’t faze you anymore and it seems normal to have just one cashier tending to the whole line on a busy morning.
4. You visit home and tell someone the office is on the 3rd floor and then realize you’re counting floors like a European. You meant the 4th floor. (Note: The ground floor in the USA is the 1st floor whereas that would be 0 in French.)
6. You start to forget what good customer service is all about and stop expecting it. Your new life in France is a bit different on that front.
7. Stressful appointments at the prefecture to deal with residency card appointments start seeming normal and you just roll with it. Becoming a French resident is not for the faint of heart though.
8. You naturally start yielding to cars on your right without having to think about it — even when you’re deep in thought, have the radio on or are talking to someone.
9. Transportation strikes don’t get a rise out of you anymore. You just shrug with the rest of ’em and accept this part of French culture.
10. When you visit home and you say no fewer than 3 of the following to the cashier (and they look at you like you’re deranged): Bonjour, merci, bonne journée, bon week-end, bonne fin de journée, a bientot, au revoir.
11. You get really excited to see the comforts of home in France like Starbucks and American food products when you’re in bigger cities (maybe that’s just me. No joke, yesterday I found a Starbucks Chai Latte at a grocery store I never go to and I felt like a kid at Christmas).
12. You go right to the dry goods aisle for your milk and eggs and bypass the refrigerated section out of habit at the grocery store.
13. You don’t bat an eye at employees out at cafes for 2-hour lunch breaks during the week — with wine. How’s that for quality of life?
14. You find it normal that shops are closed on Sundays and sometimes Mondays too.
15. You rarely start sentences with, “Well, back in the USA…” because you’ve stopped making comparisons. Out loud anyway.
Would love to hear what you have to add (about France or life elsewhere)! Tell me about your experience as an American living in France.