A few weeks ago I returned to my native shores for a very well deserved break before I dive head first into my third and final year at university. From moving flats to starting a new job, this summer has been an eventful one but thoroughly enjoyable one. However, I am very much looking forward to going home. No one ever told me how massively draining being an ex-pat can be therefore dear readers I am going to share with you my symptoms for an ailment I have named Fake Foreigner Fatigue.
This condition can become present in a patient due to having to constantly be aware that you are not in a country where people speak your native language. Don’t get me wrong. I love speaking French. In fact I positively enjoy it some days (although not in oral classes, funny that). Sometimes though it can become terribly wearisome having to constantly plan out what you are going to say. I can see how easy it is for ex-pats just to fall into a little Anglophone bubble. Sometimes you just want to hear the comforting sounds of a fellow countryman/woman complaining about French bureaucracy.
When I’m in France I forget how much I love British people. Occasionally I will encounter them in the metro and give them directions. The British spirit is generally so courteous and warm that sometimes you can feel homesick just from hearing random slang that you recognise. I miss the way an Englishman will apologise for being 30 seconds late or the manner in which they tut at queue jumpers. Is there anything more satisfying than seeing a pair of travellers searching Paris for a decent cup of tea? I admire their honourable quest but I fear that it is practically impossible.
I’m genuinely quite amazed that I have managed to live in a foreign country for just over two years. I thought my love of Double Deckers (the chocolate bars not the form of transport) and cheap drinks on a night out was too strong to hack it here for so long. However I think I appreciate home a lot more. I love nothing more than the drive back home from the airport or popping down to the beach with my sister to eat donuts on the seafront. But I also love the buzz of Paris. I’m sat in a café drinking divine coffee and looking out at some medieval ruins. Where could I get that at home?
To summarise, I love Britain. The rolling hills and dry humour of the United Kingdom could never be replicated anywhere else. But I love Paris. It is such a melting pot of cultures and languages it pleases my writer sensibilities far more than I should really admit. I will leave you with a question. Can you feel at home in two countries? Because I think I can.