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My sister in Australia asked me this question a month after I moved here: "What do you do all day?"

I was so surprised. Um, I try and survive this crazy goal to live in a foreign country where not only the language is different but so is absolutely everything else! That's what I do.

Being here, for me, is like being at school everyday where the subjects are about everything and never stay the same. Culture, cooking, shopping, reading, death, socialisation, integration, psychology, language, problem solving ... The list of what I do and learn each day is endless.

When she asked me that question, I answered: "I live here". That's what I do. Every day I'm 'living'. When she asked me I realised it is a question from someone who really doesn't understand what it takes, and how challenging it is to live in a country not your own.

Do you think the same way? That those 'back home' don't understand what you've done? Or do they appreciate the differences that you face every day?
 

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My best friend lives in France. She and her husband retired there 15 years ago. I often ask her the same thing and she doesnt know lol - she says she's always busy tho!!! I think she has the time to do things more slowly. They pace themselves, theres no sense of urgency in what they do, so they dont rush about, but leisurely get on with life??? maybe!!

Jo xxx
 

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My sister in Australia asked me this question a month after I moved here: "What do you do all day?"

I was so surprised. Um, I try and survive this crazy goal to live in a foreign country where not only the language is different but so is absolutely everything else! That's what I do.

Being here, for me, is like being at school everyday where the subjects are about everything and never stay the same. Culture, cooking, shopping, reading, death, socialisation, integration, psychology, language, problem solving ... The list of what I do and learn each day is endless.

When she asked me that question, I answered: "I live here". That's what I do. Every day I'm 'living'. When she asked me I realised it is a question from someone who really doesn't understand what it takes, and how challenging it is to live in a country not your own.

Do you think the same way? That those 'back home' don't understand what you've done? Or do they appreciate the differences that you face every day?
LOL - my brother asked me the same thing.

I agree that just living day to day in a foreign country is a constant round of problem solving and learning. Then there are the things that you do because you enjoy them. Then you need time to explore. Then you need to do the chores like cleaning, washing, shopping etc. Then I also follow this forum, plus keeping in contact with those back 'home'! IMHO there is simply never enough time! Do the people back in Australia understand that? I certainly don't think so. Does my entourage in France undersand? I certainly don't think so. Certainly none of them understand the differences and challenges I face on a daily basis (in Australia they have no idea, and members of my French family and my French friends here have even less of an idea :D ).

PS I can't even begin to count the hours I've spent trying to do my tax declaration - and I still haven't finished.
 

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Have you ever tried turning the question around on your friends/siblings? I mean, what do they do all day in Australia?

The usual answers are stuff like : work, sleep, pick up after myself, do the dishes, wash my laundry, go grocery shopping, read my mail, etc, etc. It's just that being here in France, these things do seem to take a bit longer, particularly as we get used to how things are done here.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Have you ever tried turning the question around on your friends/siblings? I mean, what do they do all day in Australia?

The usual answers are stuff like : work, sleep, pick up after myself, do the dishes, wash my laundry, go grocery shopping, read my mail, etc, etc. It's just that being here in France, these things do seem to take a bit longer, particularly as we get used to how things are done here.
Cheers,
Bev
Ah but I meant in terms of my sister not understanding that just because I don't work here it's not like I'm sitting around drinking wine all day. Although that would be fun. She simply didn't understand, that simply being here in a foreign country, without deliberately doing anything, is actually all consuming. For example, if I go to the supermarket, everything is different.

In the first week, I didn't understand that it was policy in some supermarkets to have wheelchair users go to the first checkout. So when the staff said I could go before others waiting in line, I was feeling very uncomfortable. I'd never do that in Australia.

Going to the doctor - first of all I had no idea how long it would take to get there. Every street was new. I open the door on the street and 'bang!' I'm inside the waiting room! Full of people! What was I meant to do? No reception desk in sight. That entire visit, from leaving home to getting home took four hours and I'd been through about forty new experiences.

Fill the above with another language and that's what I mean by saying that just living here doing the above is entertainment and work enough:) I don't need to be actually doing anything.
 

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It sounds ilke you're discovering the great secret of "retirement" - most folks I know find themselves busier in retirement than they were when they had the "excuse" of work to avoid doing all the other stuff they probably ought to have been doing.

But yes, both the Wonderful World of Retirement and the Wonderful World of Being an Expat certainly do take a while to get used to. You have to set up all new daily patterns and habits, and then there's the language and all those new "challenges."

In some of the supermarkets I've been in here, they have one or two "priority" lanes - usually in the center of the check-out area. If you are in those lanes, you're expected to cede your place in line to anyone with "needs" - including those in wheelchairs, anyone with a visible handicap, the elderly, and pregnant women (especially if they have one or more little kids in tow!). And oddly enough, most able-bodied folks in the line actually do allow folks in need to cut in.

The doctors' offices are always an "experience" for newcomers. I suppose every country has its own habits and customs in these sorts of things. (Though the waiting rooms all seem to have the same ancient magazines.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #8
LOL - my brother asked me the same thing.

I agree that just living day to day in a foreign country is a constant round of problem solving and learning. Then there are the things that you do because you enjoy them. Then you need time to explore. Then you need to do the chores like cleaning, washing, shopping etc. Then I also follow this forum, plus keeping in contact with those back 'home'! IMHO there is simply never enough time! Do the people back in Australia understand that? I certainly don't think so. Does my entourage in France undersand? I certainly don't think so. Certainly none of them understand the differences and challenges I face on a daily basis (in Australia they have no idea, and members of my French family and my French friends here have even less of an idea :D ).

PS I can't even begin to count the hours I've spent trying to do my tax declaration - and I still haven't finished.
Bang on there with that EH! All you say rings true for me.

I moved here specifically to create challenges as my life in Australia was never going to allow me to write. It was so easy there even when difficult. Here, eating at a restaurant is a story for me. Today though I was mostly at home because I wanted to be quiet but it was still a 'story' to pop over the road and grab a baguette. It's a story that I feel I woke up the guy selling the baguette when he dropped the change carelessly in my hand without seeing I have a problem with hand movement. Of course it all fell out of my hand and I said with a smile, 'Perhaps place it here' (in French) pointing to my palm. He instantly 'saw' me and his demeanour changed to the type of French people I know. Instantly kind and considerate. I meet the French people that tourists never do.

I want to say that I'm incredibly grateful for this forum to even just say what I posted. I do have a blog about my life in Paris but here I can talk to people in the same weird situation as I - choosing a life of difficulty but enjoying both the ups and downs. What were we thinking!
 

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Which reminds me that I need to talk to someone who has recently become a friend (don't have her phone no. and haven't seen her for a couple of days because of the horrible weather). She is French, but has lived in the US for 30 odd years - she and her husband moved here in October to look after her MIL. She was saying she was trying to deal with her French taxes, which was really hard after being away so long. No doubt she is caught up in the US requirements and the US/France tax treaty (I may be able to provide some assistance in terms of what I have learnt on this forum). Her two sons and all her grandchildren are in the US, although she has a US born daughter working in Belgium. She too is having difficulty adjusting to France (albeit maybe a little less than non-French). Which brings to mind Celticwill, who is also struggling to adjust after being away for 10-11 years. I think all recent arrivals have, in one way or another, a great deal of their time dedicated to adjusting.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
It sounds ilke you're discovering the great secret of "retirement" - most folks I know find themselves busier in retirement than they were when they had the "excuse" of work to avoid doing all the other stuff they probably ought to have been doing.
....
In some of the supermarkets I've been in here, they have one or two "priority" lanes - usually in the center of the check-out area. If you are in those lanes, you're expected to cede your place in line to anyone with "needs" - including those in wheelchairs, anyone with a visible handicap, the elderly, and pregnant women (especially if they have one or more little kids in tow!). And oddly enough, most able-bodied folks in the line actually do allow folks in need to cut in.

....
Bev

I don't think I'm allowed to retire at age 47:) This visa made me take a year off! Plus I'm a writer and one doesn't retire from that gig. What I did do was dump my Masters and get a CELTA certificate a few years after deliberately spending a few years building an academic research career. Then I sold my home and gave away everything except my clothes, personal care stuff, wheelchair and shower commode. Then, taking a big breath and two employees I'd hired to assist me with my personal care needs for three months, I moved to Paris for a year. I cannot use my CELTA here yet - that's for the future (Ialthough I worked as an ESL teacher in Australia) so I put a lot of faith in the idea that everything will be okay, and I plan what I can.

As for people ceding to me. I only allowed that once:) Unless weather is an impact, or access is restricted, there's no reason I should be allowed to go first or have special privileges. In a supermarket, I can't see an reason why I should go first. I actually enjoy letting a person go in front of me:) Also, I'd rather the following people with these 'needs' go first (so they get out of my day): people who have impatience, anger, bitterness, annoyance, foot tapping issues, whining children, sulky attitudes, people who want to share their bad day with me, those who smell, lean or hover, people who try to help, think they know me, or talk to me loudly about how brave I am.

The good thing about being in Paris is that I rarely encounter the above and if I do, I usually don't understand what they're whining about:)

What do I do all day? Sometimes I wonder what I've done.
 

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Strewth Sheila, sorry Sandra*,

For a moment I thought the missus had joined the Forum. :p

She asks that every evening, as being a stay-at-home-dad and toiling on the computer all day obviously doesn't constitute 'work' around these parts. :rolleyes:




*Too much Crocodile Dundee.
Is it my imagination or do they re-run the films about once a month over here?
 

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I just happen to have a couple of friends at the moment who are going through the "retirement" transition. And it's actually somewhat similar to what you're going through. One is a rather feisty lady from Morocco - whose kids want her to move here to be closer to them. But it's a major cultural change for her and I'm not entirely sure how she's doing from one day to the next.

Another is an EU national who has been living here in France for a good 30 years or more. But his retirement wasn't exactly voluntary. The work life is one thing - but being suddenly "retired" brings with it a number of cultural changes (as I have heard any number of times from the "jeunes retraités" in our local AVF group).

Still, what do your stay-at-home friends and family do all day? Work, sure - but what are they actually "doing" while they're working? Or when they aren't? And if you're a writer, then you're "working" if you're writing. So what do your family members do any different from what you do all day? (Only difference is that they can take the familiar stuff for granted - which you can't do for a while.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Still, what do your stay-at-home friends and family do all day? Work, sure - but what are they actually "doing" while they're working? Or when they aren't? And if you're a writer, then you're "working" if you're writing. So what do your family members do any different from what you do all day? (Only difference is that they can take the familiar stuff for granted - which you can't do for a while.)
Cheers,
Bev
They, I'm sure, do a lot less than I that's for sure. Plus I, even on the toughest days here in Paris, can at least go and eat a buttery baguette while they are chowing down on evil, never go stale, white bread!
 

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My sister in Australia asked me this question a month after I moved here: "What do you do all day?"

I was so surprised. Um, I try and survive this crazy goal to live in a foreign country where not only the language is different but so is absolutely everything else! That's what I do.

Being here, for me, is like being at school everyday where the subjects are about everything and never stay the same. Culture, cooking, shopping, reading, death, socialisation, integration, psychology, language, problem solving ... The list of what I do and learn each day is endless.

When she asked me that question, I answered: "I live here". That's what I do. Every day I'm 'living'. When she asked me I realised it is a question from someone who really doesn't understand what it takes, and how challenging it is to live in a country not your own.

Do you think the same way? That those 'back home' don't understand what you've done? Or do they appreciate the differences that you face every day?
I couldn't agree with you more!!!
 

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If you've got an "older" French house, you'll have plenty to do. Seems I've got projects lined up for at least the next year. And as mentioned before, every new project is a learning experience in French: peintre, sols, toiture, pipes, drainage, tools, etc etc.
 

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If you've got an "older" French house, you'll have plenty to do. Seems I've got projects lined up for at least the next year. And as mentioned before, every new project is a learning experience in French: peintre, sols, toiture, pipes, drainage, tools, etc etc.
I am never renovating again after doing it once and then doing it again in Australia. I'll wash outside with a hose if I have to make another home wheelchair accessible! Now I live in a newly renovated building and leave learning words such as those you've learnt, to you:)

Having said that, one of my favourite ways of learning new words and phrases is eavesdropping on people at restaurants, in supermarkets and shops etc. I'm sure going to a hardware store in France is a whole other brain exhausting experience.

Speaking of language, it's truly amazing when a shop keeper etc realise I know more than just bonjour etc. Once they realise I've bothered to actually try to learn the language and don't expect them to speak English, the attitude change is amazing in some formerly grumpy folk.
 

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If you've got an "older" French house, you'll have plenty to do. Seems I've got projects lined up for at least the next year. And as mentioned before, every new project is a learning experience in French: peintre, sols, toiture, pipes, drainage, tools, etc etc.
I just turned my salon into a large open spaced kitchen/salon. The old kitchen/veranda is now a salon/home cinema.....well it will be when it is finished. :confused:
 
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