It’s going to be time to go back home soon, and I can’t help thinking of the little things in Australia that have made a huge difference during my stay. Because sometimes it’s the little things that matter right? Stuff you don’t expect and that takes you by complete surprise. It made me realise that I take some things for granted, or even normal, when they are anything but. What can I say? I still have a lot to learn! So what am I talking about? Well, here are a few exemples:
- People talk
I know. It’s amazing, right? In London (or in Paris), I have learned to keep myself to myself. Over here, in Sydney, people talk. They are trying to help, they explain things when you queue or when you are a bit lost. They are, well, more helpful. It’s a different pace, and people take more time to speak to each other. Over here, you great the bus driver. I had forgotten what it felt like to be more mindful of others, and it felt good.
2. Healthcare is great
Stuff happens when you travel with children, and unfortunately this year was no exception. My younger daughter became sick on a Sunday morning (of all days!), I was worried and had to get her to a doctor asap. There was an open medical center around the corner, and a GP saw us within 20 minutes. We found an open pharmacy down the road. All is well now. The cost was a fraction (probably a third of) of what I would have had to pay in London for a similar service. My other option, in London, would have been to spend the day at A&E or wait for hours to talk to somebody on NHS direct, and then try to get a prescription, etc. The cost will be reimbursed by our medical insurance. Frankly, the service was even better than France. What am I doing in London again?
3. There are beauty products I didn’t even know existed.
Did you know that bee venom is the latest craze over here? And apparently sheep placenta is full of nutrients and good to make wrinkles disappear. I certainly didn’t know. Goat milk makes your skin and hair smooth and soft, allegedly. Again, I shamefully admit that I had no idea. Where the hell have I been? I might be French, but come to think of it, I am incredibly low-maintenance. It might be time for me to up the ante a bit…But then again, I wouldn’t know where to start. I’ll stick to running and Nivea cream!
I have been in Sydney for 10 days or so now and I have just realised that nobody has asked me the dreaded question:
‘Where are you from?’
Or, even worse, after they hear my strong French accent. ‘Are you from France?’
Do you know what? It’s refreshing. I am glad not to have to justify myself for once. In London, I am always ‘the French one’, and I keep being asked where I am from all the time. I am used to it by now. Sometimes I answer ‘Oh, I come from around the corner’, and then I get something like ‘No, no, where are you REALLY from?’. I promise, I am really from around the corner.
Seriously? Don’t you think it’s a tad offensive to ask someone where they are from?
Over here, in Sydney, nobody cares where I am from. It’s an accepted fact that the society is multi-cultural and yes, come to think of it I find Australians more welcoming.
Maybe one day I’ll be from Sydney
Hello from Sydney! It might be winter over here, but there is a bright sunshine and I have put some sun cream on. Winter? What winter? Give me a winter like this any time! Seriously, I am not sure I can take another grey British winter.
Let’s face it: things are a bit bleak in London. I thought that political changes would bring a newfound enthusiasm in my adoptive country, but the exact opposite seems to be happening. People keep complaining, and there is a lot of scaremongering. Turning over a new leaf isn’t as easy as it seems, I suppose. It certainly hasn’t brought up the best in British citizen recently.
Things are, well, different over here, in Sydney. It’s the space, you see. I think that the flat I have rented is twice as big as my London home, for a fraction of the price. Even the commute, on the ferry, seems so much nicer.
After the Norman Conquest of 1066, Anglo Norman (old French) became the language of the elite in the UK. I’d like to think that this is the reason why, when I moved to London, I was hearing so many French expressions. Mind you, some words were supposed to be French, but I had never used them. Sacrebleu, for instance is a stereotypical and very old fashioned French curse, which is rarely used by we French these days. In fact, I didn’t understand why my British colleagues were saying it all the time. Maybe they were trying to impress me. I will never know. But I digress. There is a French expression that I love, it is having a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’. According to the dictionary, ‘having a certain je ne sais quoi’ means ‘having a pleasing quality that cannot be exactly named or described. What’s not to like? Now we are talking, right…
A certain Je Ne Sais Quoi
Let’s say, for instance, ‘although she’s not conventionally attractive, she has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes her popular with the boys’. Now, can you hear the sexual innuendo here? I certainly can.
Let’s face it, whenever French words are used this side of the Channel, there is a sexual innuendo. As some of you like numbers, I will take the plunge and make an assessment: when a French word (or a French expression) is used, in 80% of the cases there is a sexual connotation. Shame nobody had told me before, it would have saved me some embarrassing quid pro quo.
I bumped into a friend of mine today, and she asked me whether I was still running. Of course I was, I answered. She said that as I hadn’t talked about it for quite some time, she had assumed that I had stopped. She then started explaining to me what her training plan for her next race was, what her PBs were, and how she was intending to improve her times.
That was when it dawned on me: I was an average runner. I didn’t really care about PBs, and I just wanted to run in the most beautiful places on earth, but running fast (or even simply faster) wasn’t my main priority. My last marathon was in Vancouver, and I had a great time because I ran along the Pacific ocean. After running the two-oceans marathon in Capetown in 2016, I felt privileged to run in Vancouver, along another ocean. It was my ‘third ocean race’ and I was living the dream! She asked me what my time had been. I couldn’t remember it exactly, and gave a ballpark figure. She was surprised. She remembered all her times. I didn’t. I remembered the runners next to me, how I felt after two hours and the strength of the wind, but not my exact time. ‘Why don’t you check on the website?’, she asked. It hadn’t crossed my mind. I didn’t need my exact time to know that I had enjoyed the marathon.
Let’s face it, the last few weeks have been tough. Instead of boring you guys with my well-informed inside views of what is going on in my home country and over here, I thought I should write something a bit more light-hearted today, and tell you how to love like a French woman. Yep, you read that right, the cat is out of the bag, you’ve got no excuses now. So, here we go…
It’s not over until it’s over
French women can love and be in love at any age. We never stop being and feeling loveable. Let me explain: over here, in London, it sometimes feel like women shut it down the second they become moms. There is a strong pressure, after becoming a mother, to become an all-sacrificing maternal figure. And if you don’t, shame on you, because you will be considered a narcissistic MILF. We French women don’t fall in such stereotypes. We don’t make our children the center of our universe. Truth be told, we get a lot of help from the state: childcare is virtually free (or very cheap) and we even get offered perineal reeducation sessions. In short, we have no excuse but to get our pre-baby mojo as fast as possible, so we do.
In case you have missed it, Fathers Day is on 18th of June this year. Unlike Mothers Day, the date is the same in France and this side of the Channel. This means that you have no excuses, and you can’t say you got mixed up with the dates.
Fathers Day in France has only existed since 1949 (Mothers in France started to be celebrated around 1909), so it’s fair to say that Fathers Day is relatively new. Fathers Day is a lot less popular than Mothers day in France. Usually you just call your dad to wish him a happy Fathers Day. Things are a little bit different over here: you are supposed to send a card, and give a little present. Visit UncommonGoods to see more gifts for men.
I’ll come clean: I have always wondered what it feels like to be a father. You see, when you become a mother, you are supposed to have nine months (or so) to get ready. You know that you are going to have a baby, your body changes, and eventually you have to deliver the baby (oh joy!). In short, biological mothers have to go through a well-defined process and this, in my view, makes it easier for us women to connect with our babies. Of course attachment can come in many different ways, but what I am trying to say here is that our body is making space for a brand new human being, and at the exact same time we are discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where we already live (let’s call the new room ‘becoming a mother’). The biological and emotional processes happen at the same time. In short, I felt like I had no choice but to become a mother.
This post is written in collaboration with Qare, a video consultation website in London, and is the second post of a new series on the differences between the French healthcare and the NHS. You can read the first post here: http://frenchyummymummy.com/the-top-10-differences-between-the-nhs-and-the-french-system/
I will always remember the day an American friend of mine started talking about her physician’s bedside manners. To cut a long story short, I didn’t understand what she was talking about. I even thought that she was having an affair with her GP, which was a bit odd but hey, who was I to judge?
Turns out, she was having difficulties with her British doctor’s bedside manners. For those of you who, like me, might not know what bedside manners are, here is the definition:
“the way in which a doctor treats people who are ill, especially showing kind, friendly, and understanding behaviour.”
As for me, I feel like I need to come clean now: I thought that bedside manners were the way in which you behave after spending the night with someone. What can I say? I suppose that I remain very French.
More seriously, I think that the fact that so many of my French expat friends find it hard to adjust to a new system like the NHS comes down to bedside manners.
It’s time for me to come clean: I can’t keep up. Things are moving too fast for me, and I don’t understand the world we are living in any more. But first things first:
THANK YOU: my e-book was downloaded thousands of times while it was free, and reached #1 in its category (Humour & entertainment). I am humbled, and was very pleased to receive lots of positive comments. Once again, thanks for your support.
So what am I talking about? Well, first of all, hi from Melbourne where I am spending a few days. I was very lucky not to fly British Airways, and was surprised to see the chaos at London airports. Between you and me, the tickets on Qantas were cheaper anyway. What is going on in my home country? I couldn’t help thinking that BA computer system must have been hacked but right now I might not be thinking straight.
I must admit that I was pleased to get away from London. The Manchester attacks had reminded me of the 7/7 bombings (read here http://frenchyummymummy.com/how-i-became-a-londoner/), and it’s always a bit of a difficult memory for me. Except that, this time, things were even more awful: children had been specifically targeted with a nail bomb. When does it stop? Every time you reach a new low, something worse happens. The whole episode made me feel useless and none the wiser.