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
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.
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.
I have a secret to share with you: I am working on a new project. It’s top secret, it’s exciting, and I hope that you’ll like it. I can’t tell you more about it at this point in time, but I promise, I’ll keep you posted !
In the meantime, I wanted to thank you for your support. I also wanted you to be the first to know that my book, Le Guide Officiel To Becoming British can be downloaded for free here (for a limited time only), so enjoy without moderation and tell me what you think.
So what are you waiting for? Unleash your inner French…
I thought that this video was raising some interesting questions. On this note, have a great weekend, and tell me what you think…
Enough is enough. In case you have been hibernating, not a day passes without a flurry of articles mentioning Emmanuel Macron’s unusual marriage with a woman more than 20 years his senior. Forget about unemployment, Brexit, Chechen homosexuals being tortured and killed. From now on, it’s all about Brigitte Trogneux’ style, diet, clothes and unusual family set-up (because in case you have missed it, her children are of a similar age than her husband). Seriously, what is happening to this world? Read here if you don’t believe me: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4483918/How-DOES-Macron-s-wife-defy-age.html
Please spare me the judgmental vibe, and let me speak my mind: who the hell cares? After all, it’s their business. Their private life is, well, private.
And why is it so shocking to see a man and an older woman? Nobody bats an eyelid when older men marry a much younger woman, so why the double standard? I am starting to become prouder of my home country: we French still value mature women, and we have timeless icons such as Catherine Deneuve (73 years old). Over here, in the UK, women seem to become invisible after a certain age.
This post is written in collaboration with Qare, a French telemedicine service in London, and is the start of a new series on the differences between the French healthcare and the NHS.
If, like me, you’re used to the French health system, moving to London will be a steep learning curve. First of all, it can be hard to find a French-speaking doctor. This is where Qare also can help: they set up virtual consultations with doctors -in French, and can refer you to a French doctor in London if need be. I wish I had known about this service when we moved. When you are on your own with a sick kid, things can become very stressful and it’s easy to panic (been there, done it). In France, your physician always listens to you. You’re always given a prescription, a routine examination, and taken seriously. Your symptoms will never be minimised, and if your doctor has the slightest doubt, you’ll be referred for a scan, an X-ray or a blood test. Needless to say, things are slightly different this side of the Channel. The weird thing is that, come to think of it, the health budget is similar in France and in the UK (OK, a bit higher in France, but not massively higher), and life expectancy is, again, very close. So why does it feel so different? I have no idea. But this much I know: for me, it was a whole new experience. Here is why. Let me know if I missed anything. And if you are planning to move here, be prepared! Don’t tell me you have not been warned.
Telemedicine is on the rise and can be the response to French expats’ concern. Picture: consultation with Qare
Over here, the first hurdle, after being registered, is to successfully achieve an appointment. What looks easy in theory is a game of patience and resilience. The line is always busy, and the receptionist will do her utmost to encourage you not to get an appointment, because you’re not sick, are you? In France, I have always managed to get an appointment within 48 hours. After many times calling your practice on speed dial and being hung up on a few times, you might be given a slot, usually two or three days after you need it. Don’t believe it’s the last of the hurdles you’ll have to overcome. It’s just the start.