How to make friends in the Tarn

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How to make friends in the Tarn


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Old 15th January 2020, 10:06 AM
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Exclamation How to make friends in the Tarn

Hi there, I am Dutch and my late husband was British. I apologize in advance for this long message. I am a third culture kid, meaning I was brought up in a culture other than my parents'.

I live in the Tarn since 2004, after having spent 40 years in the French part of Belgium, lived in Suriname and in the Netherlands during my early childhood.

Four years ago, I left our family home after my husband died and 2 years ago, I moved to Albi where I decided to settle, hoping to make new friends and another life partner.

Although I am a very open person and I like people, I am also fluent in French, I find it very difficult to make new friends here when you are on your own. My family lives in the Netherlands and Belgium and I have only kept some phone friends from work.

When I stopped working for a health reason which you cannot see, I did charity work in "associations", participated in workshops, did yoga, pilates, walking groups, dancing lessons, wrote my own theatre comedy in French, found a co-writer and comedian to perform it with me, you name it.

I feel people don't smile a lot here, stick with the ones they know. When you are on your own, they stay in small groups, even in circles, which is very difficult to get into or impose yourself on, even in a gentle or funny way, with a smile.

I tend to ask myself if it is the French but maybe is it just society that has become like that, or juste me ?

When I ask questions to make contact, I only get a "oui" or a "non" back, or very short answers. People from here don't not seem interested to know you, never a question asked in return or very rarely. Even my current boyfriend's parents don't seem interested, neither his children and don't ask any question.

I have 3 adult children who are open, curious, friendly and always looking to reach out to people who seem more discreet. But they live their own lives in other parts of the country. We are very close.

The older I get, the less effort I want to make but I suffer from the situation. I feel very lonely sometimes.

Since last September, I have started latin dancing lessons. I love dancing and can't help smiling. There is a place in Albi where the students and other experienced dancers can meet and dance in the week-end's The men in the venue don't invite women and they just stare at the dancing floor or dance with the ones they know. Some students go with their friends or family to dance there but they do not include the ones they don't know. They tell me to go even if I don't know anybody and ask the men to dance, but if I go on my own, I know, they will just stick amongst themselves and I just don't want to feel alone in a crowd again or feeling like a dummy staring at the ceiling. I already experienced this.

I am fit, slim, look quite nice and young according my "entourage".

Now I am looking for a dance partner on websites because my boyfriend is not available to follow dance lessons because of his work.

But I also miss talking with people with the same humor being able to laugh at themselves.

So is it me ? I'd appreciate any feedback from your experiences and maybe some advice .

Thanks a lot !

Lily

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Old 16th January 2020, 06:47 PM
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Hi Lily, my name is Szilvia, I am new on this forum and also a quite beginner in France. I have been living and working here for 4 years now and although I have very nice people around me but still search friends. Actually I was thinking to start a dance course this year but I was too busy. Be in touch if you like . Best, Szilvia
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Old 16th January 2020, 07:26 PM
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Bonsoir Lily
It is the same the world over but more especially so in France trying to fit in with the group - the French have a word for that group - it is called "un clique" and if you don't belong or don't qualify then you are outside the clique. Perhaps you should move to Spain where people are much more friendly.
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Old 16th January 2020, 07:48 PM
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Bonsoir Lily
It is the same the world over but more especially so in France trying to fit in with the group - the French have a word for that group - it is called "un clique" and if you don't belong or don't qualify then you are outside the clique. Perhaps you should move to Spain where people are much more friendly.
Yes you're right it is and the English can be quite 'cliquey' too Baldi, I see it here where I live, if your face don't fit and you don't fall in with what they deem you should do you're pushed out. Although I've not experienced it (thankfully I'm not a sheeple and have a few friends here I can count on and I've never needed or wanted to be one of 'the crowd') I've seen it done to others. I sometimes think it can be like an episode of Corrie or Eastenders (or worse ) in my little corner of France.
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Old 16th January 2020, 08:22 PM
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I sometimes think it can be like an episode of Corrie or Eastenders (or worse ) in my little corner of France.
Do you actually mean that there is something(s) worse that an episode of Corrie or Eastenders in your little corner of France? - now I am even more glad we didn't move to France.

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Old 16th January 2020, 10:22 PM
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Do you actually mean that there is something(s) worse that an episode of Corrie or Eastenders in your little corner of France? - now I am even more glad we didn't move to France.
Baldi, if I told you of some of the goings on round here you'd think I was making it up
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Old 17th January 2020, 07:57 AM
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Yes you're right it is and the English can be quite 'cliquey' too Baldi, I see it here where I live, if your face don't fit and you don't fall in with what they deem you should do you're pushed out. Although I've not experienced it (thankfully I'm not a sheeple and have a few friends here I can count on and I've never needed or wanted to be one of 'the crowd') I've seen it done to others. I sometimes think it can be like an episode of Corrie or Eastenders (or worse ) in my little corner of France.
That has been the case even here in the Ile de France. A German friend of mine first mentioned it to me, when she said that she felt she was being left out of several gatherings held by the British crowd here in the area. At one point, her British friend even asked her for a ride to the book group one time, but never invited her to attend the group (particularly galling since my German friend was a librarian and spoke excellent English).

I suppose that's how it often is among a "predominant" group of expats, all from the same country. Am told that Americans can often be this way in areas where there are "expat enclaves" - though there aren't enough of them in my little corner of France that it has ever become an issue.
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Old 17th January 2020, 10:49 AM
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That has been the case even here in the Ile de France. A German friend of mine first mentioned it to me, when she said that she felt she was being left out of several gatherings held by the British crowd here in the area. At one point, her British friend even asked her for a ride to the book group one time, but never invited her to attend the group (particularly galling since my German friend was a librarian and spoke excellent English).

I suppose that's how it often is among a "predominant" group of expats, all from the same country. Am told that Americans can often be this way in areas where there are "expat enclaves" - though there aren't enough of them in my little corner of France that it has ever become an issue.
There is a British Club here that opens its doors not just to Brits, but also Americans, Australians etc. They need members, but I understand they are very cliquey and I believe that they are primarily interested in membership fees, but certain members are not 'included' in the same way because they are not accepted by the mai clique. I am not speaking from personal experience though, as, although someone got wind of my arrival and I was invited, I made it clear that I really wasn't interested. There was an approach later via their book club via a now deceased American lady who lived upstairs from me and held meetings in her apartment - again I did not take it up (I like to make my own choices about what I read and I have been focusing on books in French since I have been here - I have a lot of years to catch up on

As for making friends here, some locals have always been very open, but getting a little dog definitely made, and still makes, a huge difference. Nonetheless it generally takes time for acquaintances to develop into friends, not least because the French generally already have their own established circles, unless they are recent arrivals with no attachments in the area.
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Old 17th January 2020, 11:13 AM
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Hello Lilitarn.

You are not alone! But there are some things that you can do.

First, we have to understand that French social life is centrered around the family, therefore friendships outside the family are less valued.

Following the separation from my French wife in 2018 I've put a lot of energy into making friends in my new home in the Pryrénées Orientales. This included inviting neighbours in for apéros....and collecting names and addresses of the guests. I've tried to participate in every village event, just to get known...but it does take time.

From what you say it appears that you don't have problems getting out and meeting people, but the difficulty is in turning casual acquaintances into a deeper friendship. Have you tried getting some honest feedback from your family on this. For example (and I don't know you so these are random examples), are you too shy or too pushy when you meet people?, Do you talk about yourself too much, or the opposite, not offer any personal confidences to build the relationship?

In the expat community here there are several people who are not on speaking terms, and the same in the village..usually over an event about land irrigation canals that happened 60 years ago. I've found the best way is to jgnore these problems and invite them all for large gin and tonics, if they that's good, if they don't then tant pis for them!

That's enough.....would you like to provide more info, or send a pm..you need to make 6?... posts.

DejW

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Old 17th January 2020, 12:40 PM
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DejW, glad you mentioned the thing about family. For many people here in France, their main "social" contacts are their family members. If you don't have family in the area (or in France) it can make things just that much more difficult.

The other thing to consider is that "friendship" can mean different things to different people (and in different cultures). I know I've spoken to any number of French people here who find it strange that Americans seem to call everyone a "friend" even if they only just met them. There are lots of different words the French use for people they know - ami, copain, collègue, co-equipier - and I suspect that each different term conveys certain specific information about the relationship.

There is a tradition here that you can only really be "un(e) ami(e)" if you have known the person since childhood. That's obviously changing, but it does account for why friendships seem to take so long to develop here in France. The idea of "friendship" is taken very seriously. Sometimes you just have let things develop slowly over time and see how they go.

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