FAQ: Back Home Edition

Do you ever feel like you could write your own FAQ list at the end of the holiday season? Or after any gathering with your extended family or your mom’s friends? Everyone always asks the same #$%^& questions over and over again. After awhile, you want to make like Tom Wilson (Biff Tanner in Back to the Future) and print out at FAQ card.

No, but I don’t mind, though. I’m not a total bitch. It’s normal for people you see once a year to ask what you plan to do after you finish your degree instead of your favorite Girl Scout cookie (it’s samosas, with thin mints as a close runner up, in case you were wondering). And actually, it’s good because it forces me to reflect on some of the heavier questions (“What are your plans for the future?”) and by January I’ve had so much practice that I have quippy answers at the ready. (Thankfully, I don’t have to field annoying questions like “Why aren’t you married yet?” or “What are you going to do with that major?”)

I spent the holidays in California where I grew up (I’m still jet-lagged!) and visited with as many cousins, family friends, and friendly neighbors as possible, and it was awesome! I was happy to see everyone, no one in my family is less than a delight. (…and they might be reading this.) If you asked me one of the following questions, I don’t begrudge you one bit. These are totally questions I would ask too. In fact, I thought that since almost half of the visitors to my blog come from the U.S. I’d write a little post on the questions I was asked the most during my trip home. (Also, it’s just kind of fun for me, which is the only reason I blog about anything in the first place.)

What do you miss most about the US when you’re over there?

Tacos. All my favorite stuff from Trader Joe’s. The Pacific ocean. DSW, 70% off sales, free shipping and generous return policies. Whole Foods sandwiches. No one making fun of my accent or nationality. Being able to go any branch of my bank I want, even on Mondays.

Are you fluent in French?

Yes siree. But I’m always learning new things!

Is your boyfriend French?

He sure is. His name is Hugo. He’s pretty awesome. (But not because he’s French. Just because he’s himself.)

Do you and Hugo speak French or English?

Usually French. He speaks great English but it’s not thanks to me! On the other hand, he has helped me enormously with my French. He is super patient with my endless questions.

What are you doing after your contract is up? Will you come back to California?

Good question! Maybe! Are you hiring?

Where do you live in France again?

I live in Lyon, the second or third largest city (with Marseille) depending on who you ask. I lived in Paris when I first came to France , but I moved to Lyon a few years ago.

So… where is Lyon, exactly?

It’s in the Rhône-Alpes region a few hours south-east of Paris (2 hours by TGV, 4-5 by car). It’s a couple hours from Geneva, and a 2-3 hour train ride from the Mediterranean.

Capture d’écran 2016-01-13 à 00.20.18

How has France changed since the November 13th attacks in Paris?

In Lyon, we see the military patrolling the streets of the city, and there is additional security in large buildings and the metro. There has already been at least one bomb scare, which resulted in a lot of public transport being shut down. (It was not an attempted attack as far as I know.) There were tributes to the victims in the main city squares where people left flowers and candles and notes. People from other countries left words in many languages stating their support for France. The Fête des Lumières, a major festival in Lyon, was cancelled, and replaced with candles and lights around the city on December 8th in homage to the victims.

Life goes on, but it was alarming to have an attack so violent so close to home, and there are daily reminders of the tragedy.

What do you like most about living in France?

Everything at the boulangerie! Lots of vacation! Going to the market! The train! Affordable healthcare! Actually, I really like meeting people from all over the world. I love going to a party and hearing a mix of three or four different languages floating around the room. I guess you can do that in the U.S. too, but I suppose I meet more foreigners here because I am one.

Oh, and I forgot the most important one – wine!


What were your FAQs this holiday season?


12 thoughts on “FAQ: Back Home Edition

  1. Haha the “are you fluent?” question – at some point while back in Australia over Christmas I realized basically everyone I talked to asked me that, quite often as their immediate response to “I live in Italy”. And from talking to other friends in similar situations, it seems like it’s the universal FAQ…

    1. Haha did people have funny questions about Italian life? I also love the myth that living abroad for a year automatically makes you fluent. I wish I could just absorb language like kids do!

      1. Yes, the ol’ “of course you’re fluent, you live there” assumption… (I am definitely NOT fluent, by any measure!)

        I don’t remember any other questions in particular – I guess most people I spoke to in Australia this year were either old friends who already had some idea of what my life is like, or total strangers who I was only making very brief chit chat with.

    1. Haha no, you should say “yes!!!!” And then when you get “Can you just speak some French right now?” you can say, “putain vous me faites chier avec vos questions de merde, laissez-moi tranquille!” And everyone will be super impressed.

    1. Apparently there are some gift cards in France that have to be used in one go or you forfeit the remaining balance. Love France, don’t love French retail! I would love to read your version of this post, please write one!! xx

  2. Right when I got back home, I got a lot of “Did you love it?” questions, which is like…..yeah, do you have approximately 37 hours for me to talk about it and show you all my pictures or…???

    Now, working as a substitute teacher, I am asked at least twice a week if I’m currently taking classes to become a teacher, followed shortly by: so, what do you think you’ll do with your drama major?? Although, even though it’s pretty annoying, there’s something very therapeutic about discussing those big life questions with relative strangers (the other teachers or substitutes I work with). I feel like I can liberate some thoughts that are milling around in my head and not worry about them being really true or not, which will probably be helpful in the long run.

    1. I agree with you, it can be nice to talk through that stuff with people who aren’t close to you. But it’s not so nice when it’s someone you’d rather not share all the details of your inner deliberations with. That’s cool that you can talk through those big future decisions with people at work! I’m so glad that people have stopped asking me what I’m going to do with my music degree. 🙂

  3. I gotta say, I’m also a Samosas girl, with Thin Mints a strong second. I avoid most of these questions because I don’t go home very often, and my parents moved away from the city I grew up in a few years ago so I don’t run into old friends there either. Plus I think my mom talks about me A LOT to her friends so they basically know everything about me. But I enjoyed reading about the flip-side of all the questions we get asked as foreigners IN France.

    It’s difficult to say where Poitiers is though. I used to say, draw a line through the middle of France and we’re on it, a little to the west.

    1. I love your series on questions we get asked here as foreigners! Conversation I just had with Hugo: “C’est où Poitiers?” “…En France.”

      I would LOVE some Thin Mints right now! I haven’t had Girl Scout cookies in years!

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