Questions people like to ask foreigners (a series)

To be clear, this will be about foreigners who speak a foreign language. These are questions I’ve been asked countless times, and for which my answer has always seemed unsatisfying for the person asking.

Question 1: Do you miss your home country?

My typical answer: “Non, mais tu sais, ce qui me manque, c’est la nourriture.”
Typical reaction: “Hahahahaha!”

I feel like I’m always letting people down when I say no to this. Honestly, I don’t miss the US. But I do miss the food, which is hard to say to a French person without them honestly thinking it’s a joke, because American food is so misunderstood (and so badly exported).

I know the US has a lot of qualities that are lacking in France (and vice versa), like the general friendliness and openness of strangers, and the wide open spaces. But once you crack the shell of French friendliness (it can take some time—years maybe—to find it), American friendliness doesn’t feel so absent. I can get my fix of it when I go home.

As for missing family, I think moving far away for college prepared me for long times away from home. The only hard times are when I’ve just left Texas or they’ve just left France, and it only lasts about a week.

So no, I never find myself aching for home. I don’t get homesick. I feel blessed to live in France. Maybe that’s not normal?

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12 thoughts on “Questions people like to ask foreigners (a series)

  1. I totally agree! In fact, I was just thinking about it this weekend when someone asked me this and my only response was “Euh….” before coming up with my dog (yes, before my family…whoops). Like you, I had been living far away from my family for several years before coming to France, so I had already only been seeing them a couple times a year. I don’t know if it’s normal either, but you’re not the only one!

  2. I tend to agree with you completely. When I first moved to France, I missed everything about England. Four years on, and I don’t really miss anything – except the food!

  3. I pretty much give the same response. And as for family and friends, with today’s cheap phone plans and Skype (though my mom and Skype do not mix), it’s easy to stay in contact all the time. One of the questions I hate the most is “Which do you prefer, your home country or France?”.

  4. I miss those wide open spaces. I have had it with being ooched into the street by Spaniards who do not move for other people, even if the sidewalk is narrow and the traffic is busy. I pick my route to work by which routes have the widest berth

  5. I know, people seem taken aback if I say I don’t really miss New Zealand. Of course, there are some things and some people, but I’m in communication with my parents all the time and there’s facebook and skype and stuff so I don’t feel that cut off. I just don’t think I’m that homesick of a person overall, luckily for me!

    • I definitely agree. When I was 18 and away from home for the first time, I was homesick. But since then it hasn’t been a problem! I feel like I chat with my parents ten times more often than my brother who lives in the States!

  6. I feel like the question kind of assumes you still think of France as “not home,” which after a certain amount of time, isn’t always true. If someone asks if I miss “mon pays” I say no, since I think of France as my country now too. I don’t know if it’s different in the states, if we’d ask about “home country” or if it’s more normal to feel like multiple places can be “home.” So maybe their dissatisfaction with your answer has more to do with their ideas of home & country than what you actually say!

    • You’re totally right about France not being “home.” Maybe the French do have more attachment to a sense of place since they tend (or tended to) stay more in the same region their whole lives…

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