Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Musings on being a quasi-expat

Last Thursday I had my visite medicale in Laon (the county seat, essentially), which is the last thing I needed to have done in order to get my carte de sejour (residency card). For the medical visit, they basically just want to make sure you don't have tuberculosis. Of course it's a little absurd at this point, because I've been working with approximately 150 children for the past month and a half so if I had TB (and I don't, thank goodness) they would all have been exposed by now. In fact one of my directeurs (principal) took this as an opportunity to tell me how ridiculous and inefficient French bureaucracy is, and how he's sure it doesn't work this way in America. I have no idea.

Anyway, once I recieve my carte de sejour I will officially be a legal resident of France. This is a really strange feeling. I'm an American, and frankly, I love America. I don't love everything about it, namely Bush & Co, conservatives, people who don't believe in social programs, basically anything that doesn't fit into my nice liberal bubble, but I really do love my country. I love the ideals set forth in the Constitution, I love football (REAL football), I love stores that are open 24 hours and on Sundays, I love having all kinds of international cuisine at my fingertips, I like normal sized rooms, and I LOVE central heating. My love for America has become even more apparent to me now that I'm living abroad. And I thought to myself this morning while I was on my way to the sous-prefecture to drop off my medical certificate, why then do I want to be a resident of another country? This is not to say that I hate France, which is not true at all, or that I'm sorry I came here, just that I've discovered that I really enjoy being an American in America. There are lots of things I love about France too, but it just isn't home, it just isn't the same. I am glad that I'm having this experience of being abroad and living in a different culture. I guess it's just having that formal status of being a legal resident of a country that is not America is troubling to me. No, I don't really mean troubling, but maybe that it weighs on me, or it doesn't fit quite right. Yes, that's it, it doesn't fit quite right. So I'll enjoy my time here as a French resident, but I think I'll be relieved when I'm just a plain ol' American again in July.


Rose said...

I couldn't agree with you more, personally. It wasn't until I came to France that I realized, "Hey, I actually AM an American." I never thought of myself as much of a patriot and sometimes felt even ashamed of the US (but our foreign policy still leaves much to be desired), but once in France, I realized Hey. I actually like our mass-market consumerism that demands 24hr WalMarts and customer service. And you know what? We actually DO have a unique cuisine and culture.

But France. Ah La France. Comme elle est si belle... :)


Destination Metz said...

I feel the same way, I always felt so anti-Australia, now Christophe is teasing me because I can't stop saying "In Australia we do it like this.." or "In Australia it's better because...". Nothing like being away to feel more thankful for what you have.