15 Signs you’ve been an expat in France for too long

Written by Diane on. Posted in on life in France

Signs you've been an expat in France for

Have you ever felt like you’ve been an expat for too long? Or that maybe you’re adapting to life abroad a little too well? There are some signs that will clue you in after a certain amount of time. What are these things, you ask? Here are 15 signs you’ve been an expat in France for too long!

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15 Signs you’ve been an expat in France too long

I’ve been living in France for almost 4 years now and some of these signs are becoming the norm. And I hope a few others never do! Do any of these sound like you? Don’t worry, they’re endearing qualities for the most part. 😉

Here are the top signs you’ve been an expat in France for too long:

1. You start forgetting words that used to just come to you naturally. You also start saying things like, “practice sports” “take a decision” and “Explain me how you did that” in English when you’re not paying attention. And you’ll throw in the occasional French word if you can’t think of the English one right away.

2. You forget how to spell common words in English and start writing them the French way. Biggest offenders? Is it appartement or apartment in English? And you pause when spelling words in your mother tongue because you almost wrote pharmacie and not pharmacy.

3. When the line out the door at the boulangerie doesn’t faze you anymore and it seems normal to have just one cashier tending to the whole line on a busy morning.

4. You visit home and tell someone the office is on the 3rd floor and then realize you’re counting floors like a European. You meant the 4th floor. (Note: The ground floor in the USA is the 1st floor whereas that would be 0 in French.)

5. You find yourself making these strange French noises just like the natives. And start saying ohhhhhh la la.

6. You start to forget what good customer service is all about and stop expecting it.

7. Stressful appointments at the prefecture to deal with residency card appointments start seeming normal and you just roll with it.

8. You naturally start yielding to cars on your right without having to think about it — even when you’re deep in thought, have the radio on or are talking to someone.

9. Transportation strikes don’t get a rise out of you anymore. You just shrug with the rest of ’em.

10. When you visit home and you say no less than 3 of the following to the cashier (and they look at you like you’re deranged): Bonjour, merci, bonne journée, bon week-end, bonne fin de journée, a bientot, au revoir.

11. You get really excited to see the comforts of home in France like Starbucks and American food products when you’re in bigger cities (maybe that’s just me. No joke, yesterday I found a Starbucks Chai Latte at a grocery store I never go to and I felt like a kid at Christmas).

12. You go right to the dry goods aisle for your milk and eggs and bypass the refrigerated section out of habit.

13. You don’t bat an eye at employees out at cafes for 2-hour lunch breaks during the week.

14. You find it normal that shops are closed on Sundays.

15. You rarely start sentences with, “Well, back in the USA…” because you’ve stopped making comparisons. Out loud anyway.  

Would love to hear what you have to add (about France or life elsewhere)!

LouMessugo
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Comments (12)

  • Jackie

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    #10. I did this here in the USA. I said “Bonjour” to the cashier at World Market and got the look reserved for wackadoodles. The cashier’s expression was priceless and still makes me smile.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Oh yes haha! Even in English, saying more than one of those is out of the ordinary like “hi, thanks, have a great weekend, bye!”

      Reply

  • Mary

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    I was only in France for 5 months, but came back calling the subway the “Metro” (in Boston, it’s the T, and in Chicago, it’s the L). When I worked at the French Consulate, I forgot how to spell Iraq/Irak and wasn’t sure which way Americans spelled it. There were other words that I knew how to say in French but not in English! I can’t remember what they were now.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      The spellings get me! I really start to question myself sometimes and it’s funny because growing up I used to be really on point with spelling. Now I pause.

      Reply

  • Mary

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    I just saw a picture from the Amelie movie, and remembered another thing that’s different about France…. square bed pillows! 🙂

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Yes, the square ones are really common here but you can find the rectangular ones too. My bed has 2 of both!

      Reply

  • Emily

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    Ha! I am not sure I will ever yield to the right. I think that will be the time to send back my British passport. Great post, thank you!
    Emily recently posted…Back to the grindstoneMy Profile

    Reply

  • Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

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    yes to all of these except 4,11 & 15 as I’m not American, don’t have a “back home” & don’t like Starbucks!!!) so true. I really do find myself doing the funny French noises much to the amusement of foreign friends.
    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo recently posted…Silent Sunday – 6 September 2015My Profile

    Reply

  • Christy Swagerty

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    Oh man, so true! I think the language one is the most obvious for me. I found that I’d speak only in present tense to help French people understand my English better. And instead of “do,” I’d say “make” all the time, too! Ahhh, good times, and now I’m learning the German problems! 🙂

    Reply

  • French Village Jacqui

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    We have been here 11 years now and I feel a stranger when we go back to UK! I’m afraid I can’t get excited by a Starbucks in France, in fact when I go to one in the UK I get so lost I have no idea what to order. Give me a French café and a café alongé any day.
    French Village Jacqui recently posted…Surviving la RentréeMy Profile

    Reply

  • Lillian

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    I’m totally guilty of the french noises… Awww I don’t want my French habits to go away 🙁 sigh…. I wonder what add ottish habits we’ll pick up. Only time will tell

    Reply

    • Diane

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      You’ll have to do a post on Scottish noises and slang!

      Reply

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