What are you doing in France?

So this question doesn’t really fit in with my short series of questions people like to ask foreigners, since it’s a question I’ve gotten from other expats… but I have gotten it a few times lately.

I still have expat friends in Poitiers (of course) and though most of them are “long-term” I still meet new ones every once in a while who have sometimes just arrived and ask this question:

“So what are you doing in France?”

Once I answered, “I’m an English teacher” because it seemed simpler, and yet so NOT the answer to that question.

Yesterday I answered, “I guess I just live here now?”

And I felt a lot better about that one.

Do other people get this question sometimes? And what do you answer, once living in France is not just a one-off thing and more of a long-term project, whatever that means (and I know it can mean a lot of different things)?

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16 thoughts on “What are you doing in France?

  1. ALL THE TIME. French people, foreigners, other Americans. Even at work now, I often get “Why are you in France? The US is so much better!” I just don’t know how to answer. It’s not an easy answer. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and decided I was going to live in France. It was basically the result of numerous decisions (and sometimes luck) that got me here to today.

    • I guess I don’t get it from French people much because I don’t meet a lot of new French people. It’s all in-laws or colleagues and when it’s new French people it’s more “what brought you to France” since they all know I’m married at this point. But yeah, definitely a tricky answer to find.

      • I guess I just got it a lot recently as I’ve been meeting a bunch of different people at the office. Before recently, it was mostly foreigners.

  2. I’m at an interesting point… I can check the assistant and lectrice gigs off the list, but to be honest, I’m not sure what’s next… France-related or not. I wasn’t sure how to answer the question, “So are you just living in France now? Are you just going to stay now?” I wish it were that simple.

    • That is a tricky point to be at in terms of 5-second answers to typical questions. Personally if I were to ask a question like that I would preface it with something, like, it’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it… I don’t think it’s THAT hard to imagine that that’s a tough question even if it’s not your experience!

  3. I think I get “why did you move here” from locals rather than expats, and I don’t really have a good answer either, so it’s either “juste comme ça” or a long spiel about every step along the way. I still often get asked if I’m a student or if I moved here to study, and people seem really surprised that I didn’t. I’ve met a lot of very unadventurous French people (i.e. who have barely travelled outside France even though, from my perspective, it’s so ridiculous easy to do so), so I guess it’s just a different mindset.

    • People often ask me if I came as a student, too. Though to be honest very few Americans really come here to study if they didn’t already have another reason to want to be here! Sorry, French universities…

  4. I never know how to answer this question! Sometimes I just say, “Oh, I eat a lot of pain aux raisins” when people ask what I do here. I feel weird saying that I’m a teacher because it’s just my current job, not my identity. Sometimes French people are flabbergasted that I left California, and I’m like, but France is cool too, no? And they’re like, eh, sure.

    • French people can be so oblivious to the beauty of their country… I think it’s part of their culture to see the downside of everything. But I think a lot of them also like to hear that we like it!

      I agree with you on the teacher thing. Even though it is a job I definitely wanted to do, I would have done it in the States too, so it’s not my reason for being here.

  5. I tell people I was forced to move to France because I don’t like tea or beer but I love coffee and red wine.

    I find it funny that when people hear I’m married to a Frenchman, they assume that’s why I came here. I enjoy telling French people that I fell in love with their country first.

  6. I get this question a lot from French people! They always seem a little incredulous when I say how much I love it here and that I’d love to stay forever!

  7. Joyau de Vie says:

    Now that I have French citizenship, I love answering: Je suis francaise! 😉 That gives them something to think about 😉

    • That one didn’t occur to me, but I did have a friend who brought it up for me! Though I guess the real answer is “actually I have lived here for a long time and have acquired French citizenship.”

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