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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I lived in the UK I worked with many French people and to me they could have all been British as far as I was concerned. They were fully assimilated into British life and culture. Their only difference was a slight French accent when speaking but apart from that they were fully integrated. When my OH lived in the UK she started out all 'French' but after 2 years became all 'British' like. She did not look or feel out of place. When she moved back to France she lost her 'Britishness' and became French again.

For expats who move to France I think it is different. You can tell from reading on forums that people have difficulty integrating into French life. I can spot (and so can my OH) a 'British' person in a supermarket/IKEA for example by the way they are dressed and behave. They are not 'blending' in and just look uncomfortable and foreign.

Of course some move to France and are just happy to live in their expat bubble watching UK TV and eating British food who don't want to become integrated...which is fine. Conversely, you have some that live in an expat 'French' bubble that thinks they are French but don't have a clue about real life in France....which is fine.

So what advice would you give someone (apart from learning the language !!!!!) who wants to integrate fully into French life ?
 

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Interesting question - but to some extent I think Sarkozy posed the same question online a few years back (well, more like "what does it mean to be French" or something like that) and the French themselves never could come to any conclusions.

I think for the French, the notion of "integrating" is simply to keep your head down and not draw attention to yourself in any way. Though, as with so many things, even that is changing in the French culture. Where I live there seems to be a sudden vogue for flash cars amongst men (and to a certain extent, women) "of a certain age." You used to only see that very rarely here.

But more seriously, "integration" is in the eye of the beholder, I think. Some folks get all bent out of shape if their neighbors "dress funny" - usually in their native dress (headscarves and/or abayas for the women, for example) - and I think in all countries you hear the complaint about foreigners "eating stinky foods." (Like garlic doesn't stink or something.)

Ultimately, I think integration is mostly about respecting the sensibilities of those around you. Not necessarily mindlessly conforming to the local norms, but not making an ostentatious show of those things you choose to maintain of your own culture. It also is a matter of adapting to local conditions without constantly moaning about them to anyone who will listen. Learn to make do with what's available here or suck it up and pay to ship in whatever it is you're missing or find your own workarounds.
Cheers,
bev
 

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ANOTHER good question from you, Smeggie. We're on vacation at the moment and I'm seeking a rest from from my usual intellectual and incisive thinking......ho hum.

I'd throw the question back to you.....you say your wife became "brit" and then french again......what did you notice was different.......nagging is the same in both cultures?:) :)

I'll answer more fully when I'm not so busy...doing nothing, well eating, drinking etc.

DejW


When I lived in the UK I worked with many French people and to me they could have all been British as far as I was concerned. They were fully assimilated into British life and culture. Their only difference was a slight French accent when speaking but apart from that they were fully integrated. When my OH lived in the UK she started out all 'French' but after 2 years became all 'British' like. She did not look or feel out of place. When she moved back to France she lost her 'Britishness' and became French again.

For expats who move to France I think it is different. You can tell from reading on forums that people have difficulty integrating into French life. I can spot (and so can my OH) a 'British' person in a supermarket/IKEA for example by the way they are dressed and behave. They are not 'blending' in and just look uncomfortable and foreign.

Of course some move to France and are just happy to live in their expat bubble watching UK TV and eating British food who don't want to become integrated...which is fine. Conversely, you have some that live in an expat 'French' bubble that thinks they are French but don't have a clue about real life in France....which is fine.

So what advice would you give someone (apart from learning the language !!!!!) who wants to integrate fully into French life ?
 

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Ultimately, I think integration is mostly about respecting the sensibilities of those around you. Not necessarily mindlessly conforming to the local norms, but not making an ostentatious show of those things you choose to maintain of your own culture. It also is a matter of adapting to local conditions without constantly moaning about them to anyone who will listen. Learn to make do with what's available here or suck it up and pay to ship in whatever it is you're missing or find your own workarounds.
Cheers,
bev
This statement hits the nail on the head and one I try to abide by. In the short time we've been here, we've certainly gone through rough patches but I don't blame the French. Moreover, it's our lack of communication skills and understanding effectively. Each day it's improving, and I believe within a year of so we'll be more integrated.
 

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The topic of integration seems to be an obsession for Smeg, as do bubbles :D It has previously been done to death IMHO - see the other thread (Conky's post), no need for a new thread just to cover old ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Same topic, Smeg! :rolleyes:
Same topic.....yes. But with a different angle.

My last question was 'can an expat ever be fully integrated in France' and I think the answer was no. :confused:....there was a lot of debate in that thread and I did not keep up.

This question is ' how to become integrated in France' .....maybe I missed a 'more' in that sentence. :D I often miss words out of sentences :(

It is a very important debate/question.

The French can integrate well into the UK for example but expats living in France have more trouble.

Why is that ?

P.S Our local pub (before we moved) was run by a French bloke !!!
 

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Same topic.....yes. But with a different angle.

My last question was 'can an expat ever be fully integrated in France' and I think the answer was no. :confused:....there was a lot of debate in that thread and I did not keep up.

This question is ' how to become integrated in France' .....maybe I missed a 'more' in that sentence. :D I often miss words out of sentences :(

It is a very important debate/question.

The French can integrate well into the UK for example but expats living in France have more trouble.

Why is that ?

P.S Our local pub (before we moved) was run by a French bloke !!!
Run a French bar? :D
 

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The French can integrate well into the UK for example but expats living in France have more trouble.
That may be your point of view, but it's not a given. To some extent, I think it relates to the "melting pot" nature of the UK (or US, to a certain extent) vs. France's notion that "foreigners must integrate" despite the fact that there is no generally accepted notion of what "integration" involves here in France.

Though I have an example for you. When I first got here, it seemed like every time I mentioned that I am married to a French man, people would ask what language we speak at home. (Not that it was any of their business anyway.) When I told them we speak English between ourselves, I'd get lots of "advice" about how we "should" use French or how "pillow talk" is the best way to learn a language, etc. etc. Even if these conversations were being carried out in French and it was evident that I speak completely passable French.

For years now, nobody ever asks me that question anymore. So, does that mean I am now "integrated" into French life, or have I integrated them to just accept me as I am because obviously, I'm not planning on changing?
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I'd throw the question back to you.....you say your wife became "brit" and then french again......what did you notice was different.......
Smeg, I like DejW's question here. I was wondering the same thing.

The year I lived in France I was alone 95% of the time so no one really questioned my existence or integratedness. I didn't stand out until I opened my mouth and they'd be disappointed. Haha. Anyway that's not really integration I know because I wasn't there long enough. That was more "blending in under the radar"...

(ps. I'm not even entirely sure I ever fully integrated into American life ;P )
 

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Lol that's interesting.

I was thinking another thing, you said you can spot the confused Brits in IKEA. But see, maybe there are some magical integrated ones that you can't see because they are camouflaged so well. As in, only the non-integrated ones stand out. Maybe?

Just saying that because with me, again, I really doubt anybody could tell just from my "way" that I was American or not French/European. Until I started to talk and have an obvious accent and busted French. But I blended in and surprised people when they realized I wasn't French or at least European. (Some elderly man on a bench trying to chat me up was saying that, he was really surprised I wasn't at least European even). So.....someone might say "All Americans stand out" but then I think, well, the ones that don't stand out don't get noticed (because they don't stand out) !
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Lol that's interesting.

I was thinking another thing, you said you can spot the confused Brits in IKEA. But see, maybe there are some magical integrated ones that you can't see because they are camouflaged so well. As in, only the non-integrated ones stand out. Maybe?

Just saying that because with me, again, I really doubt anybody could tell just from my "way" that I was American or not French/European. Until I started to talk and have an obvious accent and busted French. But I blended in and surprised people when they realized I wasn't French or at least European. (Some elderly man on a bench trying to chat me up was saying that, he was really surprised I wasn't at least European even). So.....someone might say "All Americans stand out" but then I think, well, the ones that don't stand out don't get noticed (because they don't stand out) !
The thing about Americans in Paris....THEY SPEAK VERY LOUDLY :)

Why do you speak so LOUDLY :confused:

The British in Ikea or elsewhere you can spot easily because of their haircut and the way they dress. ;)

All my clothes are from Decathelon and I have a French haircut so I blend in nicely. :roll:
 

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But see, that's my point. I myself don't speak loudly...and you have a spiffy French haircut...so I'm an American and you're a Brit and we don't stand out! Only the awkward ones do stand out. So there might be a ton of secretly well-integrated Brits that you don't notice.

I don't know why Americans speak so loudly. They do, though! Maybe because America is so huge, they have to shout across the store aisles to hear each other (jk I don't know). Like I said, I never fully fit in with America....I never went to prom nor many of those other "rites of passages." In college instead of going to parties I sat in my room like a creep and drove around by myself all odd hours of the night. so I'm kind of odd. Being an under-the-radar loner worked in Paris, though.
 

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I have to admit though...when I first got there, these French ladies were giving me a "look" on the metro like I was some backwoods country bumpkin (as far as my clothes). So I realized very quickly I had to step up my game and bought clothes in France and then the problem was solved and I got no more disapproving looks. But see, I solved it! Lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
But see, that's my point. I myself don't speak loudly...and you have a spiffy French haircut...so I'm an American and you're a Brit and we don't stand out! Only the awkward ones do stand out. So there might be a ton of secretly well-integrated Brits that you don't notice.


They you go, how to integrate in France. I think Bev made the same point earlier.



I don't know why Americans speak so loudly. They do, though! Maybe because America is so huge, they have to shout across the store aisles to hear each other (jk I don't know). Like I said, I never fully fit in with America....I never went to prom nor many of those other "rites of passages." In college instead of going to parties I sat in my room like a creep and drove around by myself all odd hours of the night. so I'm kind of odd. Being an under-the-radar loner worked in Paris, though.
What is a 'rites of passages' ?
 

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Oh dear Soleil - you know my favorite "people watching" game is Guess the nationality. You have to guess the nationality of the person based solely on their appearance (usually before they get close enough that you can hear them speak or what language they are speaking in). Great fun to play in Paris.

But though I've never met you, I suspect I could tell by your appearance that you are "probably" American. As Smeg mentions, there are "haircuts" and how you dress. I know I still buy quite a bit of my clothing from the US, so I expect I exude "American-ness" in some manner. (Though I did find it rude one time when a couple of young French people sitting on the quai in the RER station saw two extremely large people approaching - and turned to each other to say "must be Americans!" in French, of course. Actually, they were right, but it still seems kind of rude all the same.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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As far as rites of passage, in the sense of those certain "things" that American youth go through that are seen as a staple of growing up. Like going to prom in HS, going to crazy parties in college....I can't even think of more at the moment. I know people might also have "weird/fun" periods when they sneak out at night or skip classes. Those things people might say "Well all did that when we were young..." I'm like nah

I'm not explaining it well, sorry
 
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