One Direction said it best when they sang, in all their glorious auto-tuned ways, “I’m in love with you, and your little things”. They may not have been talking about living in Dublin, and the satisfaction of getting a 67 bus home instead of a 66, but I appreciate the sentiment all the same.
Months and months before I came to France, and even before I knew where I was going, I wrote about what I thought I was going to miss when I moved. And even though I’ve only been here two weeks (on Saturday), I’m already looking forward to my little trip home.
Although I must be totally honest, I don’t technically miss home, I don’t think that’s really in me, I hardly every miss anything or anyone. *insert funny Tweet meme about how I’m a heartless b-eye-t-c-h*… though my featured image would say differently. The first few days here, to my surprise, were a lot easier than I thought. I think I had gone from being scared, excited, nervous, scared again, to just being ready to get it over with. I wasn’t even necessarily lonely when I first got here, I enjoyed my own space. My room has become my little cave. My little cave sprinkled with crumbs.
But now that I’ve been here for a small while and have done a few things, France is very different to Ireland. I never claimed to be in love with Dublin. Of course I lived there and liked it, but I never saw the friendliness or beauty in it. I’M SORRY. That’s not to say that France is unfriendly, or an ugly country. Maybe it’s actually incredibly friendly, and I just can’t see it because of the language barrier. But one of the main things I’m looking forward to is something I actually hate a lot at home and complain a lot at home.
I can’t wait to get back into town and to be on Westmoreland Street and trying to get to Grafton Street through all the roadworks and the hundreds of people, and to be stuck behind groups of people who are walking too slowly, and to wait for the bus in the rain and to smile at the bus driver before I put my Leap Card to the machine (not a euphenism). That to me, is Dublin. That is home. And I’m craving it a little bit more each day I walk around these gorgeously spaced out streets.
But in my short time here, I have noticed a few things that are very different to the way we do things abhaile.
Okay, I’m really sorry to say this, but the French food is weird. So weird. Apart from the glorious wine and cheese, I just can’t get a grasp on the cuisine! I do my shopping in the Lidl near me, which should (emphasis on the word ‘should’), have the same-ish food as at home, but nope. Where’s the rashers? The hummus? The rice cakes? The god damn BACON FRIES? I know each country has their signature dish and type of cuisine, and I have yet to figure out the French’s. Suggestions/recommendations welcome!
At least there’s something I can get behind. If there’s one thing that is not unfamiliar to me, it’s the weather here. Although at the start I was sweating half my body weight at noon, a mere two hours later I was cursing myself that I hadn’t brought a jacket with me. Irish weather is much like that. Just because you wake up and the sun is shining does not mean it’s warm. I know this well. So each morning I put on my jacket and my scarf and it makes me happy because it’s like nothing has changed too much.
Eating and Drinking Habits.
When I came to Nantes during the summer on the hunt for accommodation, my Dad and I were shocked when we walked around town at 12 o’clock in the day and people were having a glass of wine. To us, alcohol is mainly an evening drink, to be consumed in large amounts (only occasionally, of course *shifts eyes*). Here, that’s not really the case. Food and drink are as much as social event as they are a source of nutrition. Everywhere you go in Nantes, the tables outside restaurants, cafes, bars are full of people enjoying a glass of vino and some food. However, I have yet to see someone eat on their own. I have become comfortable eating on my own and would happily go get lunch by myself in a nice café. But I’m not sure if I will ever venture to do that here.
When I first discovered this, it was quite a shock to the system. If you were to question my motives to come France, it would be now, because of this. You have to PAY for a bag in shops. That is just … bizarre. In Ireland we usually have to pay for a plastic bag because global warming and all that jazz, but paper bags in shops are a given. Here, they could cost you almost 20c for a paper bag, which makes sense as you never really see people walking around with bags. But that’s madness in my eyes! Life is so simple back home …
France is full of different people. Much more so than Ireland. Everyone looks so different to me and foreign, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. France, as a nation, has a much broader spectrum of citizens in the sense that they don’t all look alike, race wise. (I hope I used the correct term here, please let me know if I didn’t explain that right. It’s important to be correct on things like this). With this range of citizens comes a range of fashion too. One person could be so stylish they make me want to throw out all tracksuit bottoms I own, and another could be wearing something that no one would ever in Ireland. It has really made me aware of the associations we have in Ireland with certain clothes and/or brands with different groups of people, and furthermore, it’s made me ashamed of these associations. What someone puts on their body has nothing to do with who they are.
I’m happy to report that the French are a polite people, which is something I wasn’t expecting. When moving abroad, you hear so many different stories of how the natives are, but we can never really type-cast a whole nation. The majority of people have been surprisingly understanding of my level of French. It’s mostly in restaurants that I get spoken English to after saying “deux” and holding up a peace sign. But for things like insurance, getting my bank account, the majority was done through, albeit, slow French. And I appreciate that. They can obviously tell I’m not French, nor that I’m fluent, but they continue to talk to me in French (or maybe they just can’t speak English). And although sometimes I do want to talk in English just because speaking French is scary and I’m actually a scared child masquerading as a lost 20 year old, doing things like that through French will be better in the long run. Or so I tell myself. Also, everyone says bonjour. To everyone. In Ireland we may have a little nod or a smile, but here, bonjour is the common greeting. If you’re coming to France, learn the bonjour, pardon, and deux rosé, and you should be grand.