When the Grass Isn’t Greener: Falling Out of Love with France

I remember when I first fell in love with France. I was nineteen, a study abroad student fresh off the plane from Chicago, a bit naive but oh so curious, and far away from everything and everyone I knew.

Weekend in Paris
Paris, January 2010

Upon arriving in Paris, I remember being overcome with an overwhelming feeling– being amongst new surroundings and new people, I was finally free to become my own person and to explore and live my life as I saw fit, without the social, family, and societal pressures from back home. I quickly associated those things with France, and saw her through a rose-colored lens for many years that followed my semester abroad. After graduating from college, I headed back to France to be a teaching assistant, as many French majors do, wearing the same rose-colored glasses. In my eyes, France was perfect.

For a long time, I honestly and truly thought France did everything right. At first glance, France’s secular laws seem fair and make sense; free higher education and affordable health care are human rights; maternity leave and subsidized childcare and reproductive rights are a given; abortion isn’t a hot button topic; vacation and work-life balance are an important aspect of everyday life; people are open and accepting; salaries are much lower but there is so much more government support for people and families who need it to get by. I honestly and truly saw France as a land of opportunity.

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And in many ways, all of these things ring true, and do make sense. But over the past six months or so, I’ve seemed to have replaced my rose-colored glasses with jaded ones, and can’t help but to have found a touch of grey in the silver lining. I feel so torn, because even though I still want to love France, I seem to have fallen out of love with her and everything I once loved about her. Perhaps I am finally embracing the phrase, “The grass isn’t always greener.” I used to think it was greener in France. 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely do not miss gun culture or in-your-face-Christianity in America. However I find France’s secular laws outlawing religious expression and symbols (mostly in schools) to sometimes target specific demographics. And I know that La Laïcité is such an integral, important part to the French identity, and I although I do abide by the policies and understand where they come from, I’m not sure I’ll ever, really understand them. Just look at the most recent “Burkini Ban.”

In my opinion, certain parts of France are not as open and accepting as we are led to believe, because I find her to be quite conforming. From my experience, foreigners, and even French people who are seen as “different” are expected to conform and accept the French (Caucasian) ways of life if they want to be seen as “equal.” And in many ways, I understand that. It’s important to respect the place you are living– to learn French and try new foods and integrate into the workplace. But it’s much, much deeper and more problematic than that. I find that subcultures are not equally respected in France– I find that if you do not conform to the French way of life– in regards to what, when, and how you eat, dress, and think, you will not be accepted. Of course, this is not true everywhere– I find people in the north to be extremely open and friendly.

When in Rome, I do what the Romans do. I speak French; I eat French food; I don’t complain as often about the ridiculous store hours or incompetencies of the bureaucracy; I pay French taxes and follow French laws; but I get so, so sick of being judged or reprimanded for not reading books in French, for speaking English with my friends at a bar, for eating outside of “designated” meal times, or for something as small and petty as dressing in bright colors. Although America is not known to be open or accepting of world languages (the “In America we speak English!” comment is disgustingly ringing in my ears as I write this), but overall I find that the United States does better job of finding and celebrating the equality amongst differences and subcultures– we are equal because are not all the same and we have something different to bring to the table. The United States is still has a lot of racism, but at least we talk about race-related problems, such as white privilege and systematic oppression, and acknowledge that they exist. In France, many claim that racism doesn’t exist here because of the secular laws, as well as the fact that it is illegal to ask for one’s race on official government forms (yet interestingly enough, it’s still completely acceptable to require a photo with your age and marital status on your CV).

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I used to think that free higher education was an amazing thing, until I saw what zero tuition fees brings to some universities in France in 2016– an unequipped classroom with only a chalkboard and not enough seats for all students; no free and accessible wifi; no computer labs or free printing or libraries with study rooms and places for students to just hang out– all things that I took for granted during my time at university. Now don’t get me wrong- we pay too much money for tuition and school in the United States. It’s not fair that young twenty-somethings begin their lives with mountains of debt. But in France, there are students who automatically receive grants and scholarships based on economic need to pay for the small tuition fees, but then some don’t actually use the money for university purposes, and then they are not required to pay the money back when the fail the year (which is SUCH a waste of tax payers’ euros). I also have a problem with teacher training in France– in order to become a teacher, you just have to pass a content-based exam. Thankfully over recent years, I have been informed that there has been more observation and pedagogical learning that has been integrated into teacher training, so that is changing. However, I find it so, so screwed up that brand new, inexperienced teachers are sent to the worst, roughest ZEP schools, instead of experienced ones who have some classroom management experience, and there is next to zero special education and French as a Second Language programs. Many teachers are still expected to teach without computers or wifi or even a dry erase board, in 2016. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some really great teachers in France and I know many of them, but in 2016, in a westernized, first world country, I find it absolutely astounding that these things still do not exist.

I admit, having affordable health care is amazing, and it is WAY, WAY too expensive in the United States. However, I joke a lot with my anglophone friends that many French people go to the doctor for literally every single tiny little thing from a slight head cold, because you need a doctor’s note in order to be reimbursed even the most basic of medicines (which you MUST purchase in a pharmacy. Don’t even get me started on the fact that you need a doctor’s note to run a race or join a gym or do remotely anything physical.) On the contrary, I find teeth cleanings here to be an absolute joke– the philosophy here is to “fix problems” rather than to “prevent them.” (Literally my own French dentist said this to me.) To date, I pay out of pocket for a proper cleaning when I come home to America. And sometimes it takes months, months, to see a specialist (not reassuring if you have a dire or pressing need).

I love French food and French dining culture. It is probably the number one thing I have most conformed to whilst living in France. I snack a lot less and I cook a lot more. I enjoy having hors d’oeuvres/apéro before dinner and taking my time at the table. I indulge in a glass (or two) of alcohol every night and do not enjoy eating whilst walking. But sometimes I miss big coffees and eating on the go, and not being judged for doing so. I miss drinking a Diet Coke without having so many people comment on how unhealthy it is (while they blow cigarette smoke into my face). Sometimes I just want to say, “Please just mind your own business and let me eat my food in peace!”

IMG_6676The French Labor Laws have definitely made me look at France in a new light. With an unemployment rate at 10%, it is so, SO difficult to be hired in this country; it is even more difficult to be hired on a permanent contract, and then once you have a permanent contract it is nearly impossible to get fired, even for things that merit being made redundant. Salaries are extremely low here in comparison to the United States, but there are more social programs and government support. It’s still a foreign concept to me to find it normal to rely on the government to take care of you and give you money. Why can’t France just pay people normal salaries and drive down income taxes so we don’t need to give families extra money in order to afford children and basic life necessities? Furthermore if a family or a person needs extra money, why does the government stop them from taking on extra work, and instead give them government subsidies? I love that the French place so much emphasis on work-life balance and find vacation / rest time to be important, but at what point does the government intervene just a little too much?

When you ask foreigners what they think of America or Americans, many respond by saying that Americans are positive and optimistic. We see nothing wrong with thinking outside the box and we believe we can do anything. I used to be ashamed of this fact– people11539576_10204488015952820_7325767015675388568_n viewed my culture and by default me, as childish and out of touch and a bit in the clouds. After living in France for three years, I have never been more grateful to be American and to have kept this “can do” mentality. I believe it’s what helped me to find a permanent contract here. I’m grateful that at 26 I still feel like it’s possible to change my path and start over and do something new. I don’t always feel that is always the case with some French people. I find people here to be a bit more straight forward about possibilities for work and for life. Don’t get me wrong, the French know how to vacation and they know how to relax– I’ve learned a lot from them because I bought right into American work culture in the USA. But when talking about possibilities for the future, I sometimes find mentality is still more like a straight ladder and less like a curvy, multi-layered jungle gym (thank you Sheryl Sanders for the imagery). In my opinion, this probably is in part due to the fact that kids here kind of have to choose a general career path at fifteen and then (mostly) try to stick to it; it’s less culturally acceptable to start over later.

And, just like in America, there is an astounding amount of hypocrisy in regards to family life. I love that domestic partnerships exist here, and people can be legally together without being married, and that Christian-based prude virginity culture isn’t being poured down everyone’s throats. But the fact that homosexual couples cannot adopt children (BECAUSE THINK OF THE FAMILY!) and women cannot freeze their eggs while men can freeze their sperm is beyond me.

All in all, France is not the worst place to be female, but it’s not the best place by any means. There are still subtle gender roles and subconscious expectations about how females are expected to be– there is a lot of body shaming. Even more so, if you wear a headscarf (or some derivative of it), many try to claim that it is a form of oppression in order to justify la laïcité laws, and that outlawing headscarves/religious symbols helps liberate women (because let’s have a white Christian male mansplain female oppression). Headscarves are also not allowed to be worn it in public K-12 schools, in addition many areas of work. I shared a carpool with a man to Brussels who was on his way to visit his financée who was an engineer but whom was not allowed to work in France because she wore a hijab. On a positive note, women can bathe topless and breastfeed in public without reprimand (but God forbid she wear a burkini!). Sex education is much more comprehensive in France, but cat calling and street harassment remain HUGE problems, and is not taken very seriously (although it is beginning to change). Additionally, I distrust the French police force. They are not reactive and I feel that every time I have called (to report domestic violence nonetheless) I was not taken seriously, nor was the call. Finally, I am not a huge fan of dating culture and male-entitlement / machoism that exists here (I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in the US either, because it does, but in different ways).

I’m afraid I have fallen out of love with France, and I am desperately searching for that spark I had when we first met all those years ago, because I am so, SO excited to begin my new job– it’s a perfect fit and I know it’s going to be the positive change I need. Plus, I know deep down I still love her. And despite all of my negativity, I am very happy here- I have smart, interesting, worldly friends, I do work I love, and I have enough time to travel to new places.

I realize that I’ve come round full circle- from hating the USA and loving France to completely hating France and loving the USA, to finally having a bit of a love-hate relationship with both.

For now, I’m in between, and my grass is green.

Bisous,

Dana

92 thoughts on “When the Grass Isn’t Greener: Falling Out of Love with France

  1. Pingback: On civility
  2. This was a great read. I am constantly going back and forth about which grass is greener, and you’ve shown both sides of the argument. I did the TAPIF program in Ajaccio, Corsica last year and got a glimpse of the more close-minded aspects of French culture (or Corsican culture, I should say, as they would never want to be considered French!). Being there during the 2016 presidential election was tough, as I was verbally attacked in my schools for “causing” Trump’s election (all by myself). My teachers went on and on about how everyone in America must be racist and sexist and homophobic in order to have elected such a president. Evidently, the fact that Corsica is one of the most close-minded places I have ever lived went right over their heads. I still enjoyed my year, and I know the U.S. definitely isn’t perfect in those regards, but I was so glad to come home and be able to do things like, say, go to my local Pride parade this past June. Anyway, I’m really enjoying reading through your blog and I wish I had seen it before I did TAPIF!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and thank you for reading my most controversial post ever! I so get what you mean about the close-mindedness going completely over the heads of people in France. I’ve come full circle and usually just try to shake my head, close my eyes, and breathe heavily. (Yet, I still find myself wanting to live there?)

      I can imagine it’s even more intense in Corsica!

  3. Hi Dana,
    I think as expats we’re doomed to be constantly thinking the grass is greener. Sometimes I go full circle in a single day! Your points are valid; but I still think we’re better off here. Every country has it’s problems. You’re certainly right about conforming.
    Yesterday, my neighbour told me point blank that people will never accept me here until I give up my Canadian citizenship and become solely French. I was hurt and quite frankly enraged by this statement. There does seem to be a culture here where being different is a bad thing; where I was always taught that being different was an advantage.
    Hang in there! I wish I lived in a city sometimes so I can meet fellow expats and moan a little!

    1. I’m so sorry your neighbor said that to you; that’s awful. Even if I Get citizenship on day, I don’t think I’ll ever feel French. In France, people want everyone to be “the same” with “the same opportunities” (look at some of the awful reforms in schools!) so that people can be “equal.” But I don’t think people realize that “equal” doesn’t mean “the same” for everyone. People have different needs, desires, interests, etc.

      I don’t know what I’d do without my expat friends but let’s connect if you ever wanna talk. Hang in there!

    2. That’s so ridiculous to hear people say things like “Give up your cultural identity if you want to be part of our group!” I actually have both French and Canadian nationalities as I moved to France as a kid. I must add that no one ever told me being Canadian was wrong, most French people thought it was cool to have a different background. But then, I was raised in France, have no accent and live in the suburbs of Paris where most people I met actually aren’t 100% French either.

      1. so, SO ridiculous!! I will always be American even if I do change certain aspects of my behaviour when I’m living in France. Thanks for your comment! So do you identify as more French or Canadian? x

  4. Dana, I think it was brave of you to express your feelings about France, knowing there would be some faultfinders. I am french , I lived in the U K many years (married to an englishman and raised 2 children there ) and racism did exist . When our children started school , they never said their mum was french and stopped speaking french to me because they would have been called “froggies” and laughed at, just as they laughed at and bullied pakistanies . I think there is a part of racism in every human beings , and it is not necessarilly towards other cultures and faiths.
    With regards to Muslim living in France , there is indeed an issue there. One can ask WHY ? But one can also question oneself why one never hear of other foreign communities of various faith ( Asian, africans, Americans, Indians, Italians and so on … Yet they live in great number in France .
    I recently received an email from an American friend Who used to live in California , he tells me how awful it is living there . He once was jailed for just having written an article which was considered as communist , and “inside” he was mixed with criminals of all sorts , what striked him most was that there were 3/4 of black inmates ……. He now leaves a peaceful life here in Normandy
    As the saying goes : ” Il coule des jours heureux ” and that’s what he really said.
    So your opinion is yours and you have the freedom of expression ( Tom my American friend DID NOT.
    Joelle

    1. To be fair, being called a “Froggie” is not racism. Sure, it’s prejudice and it’s rude and it’s bullying, but it’s not racism. Racism is a systematic oppression of certain groups of people. People are not born racist– we teach racism to children, though societal expectations and stereotypes, at home, etc.

      It is proven that people of color are much more likely to serve time in prison for crimes, when their white counterparts, who commit the same crime, do not have to. That is internalized racism and biases within the police system and it needs to change (ie: have the races of police be representative to the community they are serving?)

  5. I don’t understand why the French should be expected to integrate other cultures in to theirs. This is their ancestral homeland and they have a right to keep it distinctly French. Expecting the French to accept non-French immigrants who wish to change their culture is ludicrous. If people want to practice their traditional cultural practices, some of which conflict with French culture, then I suggest they do not immigrate to France. This applies to both the author and immigrants from anywhere else in the world.

  6. Hi Dana, I’ve lived here for 2 years now. I’m not from the US but NZ so an anglo country with the pioneer culture. We’re lucky – although a Christian country we’re pretty much secular and I actually find France relatively religious! Churches and cruxifixed jesuses everywhere! I absolutely cannot argue with what you’ve said here. I found the article via another blog talking about the negative backlash you received. Frankly I can’t see why people were so threatened by what you’ve said. As far as I can see it’s true. Especially attitudes to muslim dress. I can’t believe the bullocks around the burkini at the moment! How dare white males tell anyone how to dress?! Those banning the garb are just as bad as those insisting on it. Anyway I just came here out of curiosity and to support you. I guess your “falling out of love” with France is a development of your relationship with her. It sounds like you have a good life here which is the most important!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I’m glad that as a fellow anglophone you’re at least able to see where I am
      Coming from On many issues (esp with this Burkini ban nonsense!) cheers!

  7. So, somehow I missed these posts! I need to check my feed to see if your posts are properly coming up!

    I saw the post you wrote about comments and wanted to come read the original post first so I could see what my own impression was.

    From my somewhat limited interactions with France, all of this rings true to me. I think these are all of those “beneath the surface” type of things that you begin to encounter when you stay some place longer. EVERY place has its issues. And France definitely has their own. But it takes a long time to be able to see those things and maybe even figure out how you feel about them.

    I think living in another country is kind of like being in a romantic relationship. In the beginning, it’s kind of like infatuation or lust. And after a while, that fades and hopefully what’s left is real love… but that love means acceptance and understanding and frustration sometimes. Maybe once the reality sets in, you realize that your “partner” has some attributes that drive you totally crazy. And you have to make a decision about how you feel about them and if those are deal breakers.

    And I guess you have to figure out if it’s a rough patch or if it’s something that you don’t want to deal with anymore.

    All that being said, I found your post to be just you being open about your journey and also venting a little bit. I think that’s fine! I think people who reacted all crazy just took too much offense to it. I think a lot of Americans who are more internationally-focused look at Europe as an example of a continent that’s doing things right, so it’s kind of like, “How dare an AMERICAN criticize France?” Because we have a whole bunch of our own issues, which are super salient and ubiquitous, just due to the nature of our role in the world right now.

    I’m going to read your other post about people’s reactions, but thanks for sharing (always) what you truly feel about France and your time there! I think it’s so good for future assistants/lectrices to know these things and I also think it’s healthy to vent and find support and people to commiserate with sometimes! 🙂

    1. Thanks Erika for your comment! I like your analogy about love and relationships in regards to an adopted country and I think that very much rings true! I agree people took too much offense to it– it’s my blog, not the New York Times.:)

      Thanks for your support:)

  8. Hi Dana, I am surprised at your lack of historical perspective in this ‘blog’ especially when it comes to religion. Specifically the Loi du 9 décembre 1905 concernant la séparation des Eglises et de l’Etat, and Article 1 of the Constitution (1958) which you refer to as racist and xenophobic. May I remind you this law was inspired by the Enlightenment and a strong anti-clerical sentiment which dates back to before the French Revolution. The law underpins the relationship between state and church — not solely its relations with those of the Muslim faith. 1905 allows for the defence of individual liberty. Restricting the church to the private domain allowed France to have Constitutions — based on the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) — and not on Canon Law. You write so positively about female sexual health rights in France. If attempts to remove religion from public life and its influence over policy in France had been unsuccessful and the 1905 Law and Article 1 were not the bedrock of this society, then France would have been more like Ireland or Spain where female fertility — be it abstention, contraception, morning after pill and abortion — would not have been so easily available. I am sure you recall in 2012 and 2013 members of the clergy among the demonstrators opposing laws which legalise same-sex marriage and grant same-sex couples the right to adopt children. (I leave it to you to draw the conclusion there). Dana, external forces, social and technological change have brought calls for a reappraisal of France’s historical commitments to a division between public and private worship and there have been shifts in attitudes towards the place of religion in the public sphere. The debate is worthy, but only when historical context and sociological perspective is maintained. If only your ‘blog’ had included those.

    1. Dana is a very young woman who has yet to actually learn history of the country she came from and the country she lives in.
      One of the sad developments in the usa public schools is a terrible lack of our country’s history and world history especially in the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted.
      It makes for very shallow reading when as you point out so eloquently, when the writer has so little perspective.

  9. HI Dana,
    I read your blog with interest and some of your points seemed quite valid. I think that the honeymoon period is over and real life is settling in. Yes, there are problems in every country and you seem to feel that France has more than it’s fair share. We certainly have some issues at the moment. BUT, just a little reminder, that nobody is forcing you to live here.
    The French are a peace loving people and strong. With age comes maturity.

    I’ve been here 20 years, put my children through the education system, had my life saved by some fantastic medics twice, and despite the high taxes and low wages, would not wish to be anywhere else.

    Be positive, and that will be shone right back at you!

  10. Hi Dana
    I completely agree with what you wrote. I am French and lived in UK for 13 years. I regret coming back in France 10 years ago. But when I was in UK, I also had this love-hate feeling. I am 47 and will find it difficult to start again in another country. I am just struggling to have a normal salary since i came back. One thing I have learnt in UK is to get by and adapt my skills to find work. I have become independent as I now think my work experience in an English-speaking country has made me incompatible with the French business culture and that I don’t fit in the mould. Like I like to say: France, country of freedom and human rights where everything is forbidden! Yes I know, we are very far from many countries where human rights does not exist. I just came back from Spain and I can again compare little things between 2 countries (like, you can swim, camp where you want), you are warned about a danger in a canyon but it is not forbidden to go. Just little things of everyday life that the French state thinks they have to control AND tax, therefore control people.
    Another point, in UK, I have learnt to care about my own health because I did not want to pay for pills, and that is also why British go towards alternative medicines. I was just not convinced by the doctor who was giving me a prescription and saying ‘try this’, as it did not work i went back to him and he gave me more. Paying for pills that don’t work!! no thanks. I think the general state of mind in France is just a normal result of ‘too much anti-depression pills, too much control of the state, too much pressure to fit in, too many taxes for stupid things….not enough freedom to express yourself, (like you said: wear bright colours!!). I have a bright green car and i wear pink!!
    Don’t worry about what people think, be yourself!!
    And since I came back from holiday, I watch very little TV and (bad) news!!
    bises
    Lydie

    1. Hi Lydie! Thanks so much for your comment. I think you and I share a lot of the same feelings and frustrations. France is an amazing place, as is the UK. I feel luck y to have my American way of thinking in a country which thinks very differently- I feel like this has allowed me to get ahead and remember my roots a bit more.

      Courage for finding your place back in your homeland. Big bisous

  11. Hi Dana: Thanks for the insightful post on cultural difference between France and the US. As a North American and long time Francophile, I too can see some of the “cracks in the armour” through my previous rosé coloured glasses. Thanks for sharing your post on #AllAboutFrance.

  12. Hi Dana. It’s good to read such an honest account of a French experience. While I agree with everything you have to say, I think that coming to terms with the reality of life in your chosen country is is part of the expat experience. Nowhere is perfect, and what you gain on one hand in a country, you lose on the other. Either you change countries continually in a search for the one that suits you best, or you accept that every system, like every person, has its failings. Good luck for the new job.

  13. Hi Dana, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I do agree with you that there is much lacking in the French university system. People usually don’t get into grandes écoles and a lot tend to go for private (if they can afford it). What you’ve said about ZEP reminds me of what’s being going on with the Teach for America program, where the most inexperienced teachers end up teaching in places in the United States that truly need experienced teachers and good resources in order to succeed. My experience studying abroad at a university (not a grande école) in France left me homesick for the education I enjoyed at a UC.
    I think this idea of the grass being greener might stem from the way that France is often presented in a French-language classroom (particularly in high school, and in college for me). We’re not really offered a sense of the societal problems that France has as a nation, focusing more on the idealization of certain cultural aspects baguettes, crêpes, and the Eiffel Tower. This (as I have seen in plenty of people I have met) often leads to a huge culture shock upon arrival. The other thing is that as Americans, we often have a focus on individualism (much more so than any other nation in the world) and European collectivism and more emphasis on obedience is certainly a different way of thinking for us.
    At the same time, I hesitate on the idea of France becoming more like America. I have grown up in the States and India for very long periods of time, and I’ve never found any country morally superior above the rest. Our American emphasis and pressure on feeling good and being successful above everything else definitely leads to a large sense of disappointment and shame, particularly during times of great failure. In India, I know people who have done everything dictated by society but were hit by tragedy. And finally in France, incompetence and not questioning the ideas of others is not only condoned, but occasionally rewarded.
    I sympathize with your frustrations and think that it’s normal and even brave to voice them on an expat blog. Congratulations on your CDI position! I wish you the best. 🙂

    1. SO interesting to hear about your perspectives on India vs the USA vs France. You have great insight and great points. I especially agree with your Teach For American to ZEP comparison and feel that those are both significant problems in both countries. I also like what you have to say about individualism vs collectiveness– very strong points to take into consideration. Thanks so much for your comment!

  14. Funny Dana, the way you blame white Christian men for oppression of muslims in secular France. It would seem that you just cannot come to terms with the failure of another secular society. Where there is a void created by the abolition of Christian values, otherwise known as the foundation of law, order and morality, the values of other religions will rush to fill that void. You poor thing.

  15. I loved reading your post Dana. I found you through the #allaboutfrance link up. I love France but I have only been a visitor many times. Of course it is a completely different situation when you live in a country and experience daily frustrations and understand a broader perspective than when you first arrived.

    I’m an Australian expat in the UK and while there are many more similarities between those countries compared with the US and France I can never really shake my Australian soul. The power of culture and environment you experience as a child must be so intense. I wonder how my children who have Peppa Pig accents and have lived in the UK longer than Australia will feel about both countries as they get older.

    I really enjoyed your perspective. No country is perfect. I wonder if we could create utopia by taking all the best bits of all countries.. I would definitely take the French food!

    1. Thank you so much Katy for your kind and thoughtful comment! So interesting that you and your kids will maybe have different identities in regards to Australia and France. I’ll never be French, and that’s okay. There’s the American in me I just can’t seem to shake, and I accept and embrace that!

      I agree- no place is perfect. We have to do our best to create our own “perfect”.
      Bisous!

  16. I loved this post. I fell in love with France from an early age and I fell even harder when I studied abroad for a year during college. I couldn’t wait to come back for TAPIF. And I did have an excellent TAPIF year! I feel like i need to announce that because I feel similarly that the rose-colored glasses came off. But hey, I love America but not every single aspect of the country.

    1. Exactly! It’s okay to criticize and ask the hard questions- about both countries! Anyone who knows anything about me know how much I love and criticize both! Thanks for your comment 🙂 It’s always fun talking with you over WordPress

  17. it is Americans like you that make living in France for other Americans harder than it should be. also, you would do well to reread and correct your posts before putting them online. its super embarasing four a english teachur.

  18. Dana,
    As a 50-something who followed the link from The Local to your blog, I just want to tell you I’m really impressed with your maturity and clear-sightedness. I was struck that someone in her 20s could bring such balanced perspective to complex cultural differences, especially amidst what must be emotional transitions in life. Well done!

  19. Hi Dana. I read your article with interest.

    Things change over the years and events shape the moment and a lack of money can handicap a countries immediate ambitions. Sometimes there is a need to be firm on points of principal which in better times would not be necessary. In a country like France these are fairly small swings of the pendulum in the context of the overall direction of a beautiful country with many attributes which personally I still find very attractive. Try working and living in other European countries or in a third world country and you may well find another perspective for those niggles . France is a wonderful country and personally I feel privileged to be able to live here amidst a multicultural, changing society, finding it’s balance in turbulent times. Your right to highlight the faults if not they may never change but to me this feels like an important time to focus on the positives when the country is being shaken by a dangerous few who would like us to do the opposite. Enjoy your time in France.

    Best

    Peter Horrocks

    1. Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      I love France. She is full of wonder things and conveniences and advantages and I am lucky to live here. You are also right in saying that this is a stressful, tricky time for France. I agree. Perhaps the timing was off, but I still stand by the idea that just because it’s not a great time for France doesn’t mean she’s exempt from criticism.

      Best regards. Cheers!

  20. Hey Dana, I’ve been reading your blog for nearly 2 years now, ever since I decided I want to do TAPIF and googled “TAPIF blogs”… haha. Anyways, I wanted to comment on how I admire this post since I see a lot of negative feedback in the comments that’s pretty unwarranted. Anyone who’s read past the title would understand that you’re not insulting France, you’re not unappreciative of the opportunities you’ve had because of your time there, you’re not ready to burn the French flag while spitting on the Eiffel Tower because oh boy, does this country suck… You’ve just gotten over the initial fairytale view you once had of France, and you now realize that it’s just a country that has its own problems like any other country. I think many ex-pats, whether they are Americans living in France, French people living in the US, or people from any country living in a country that’s not their native land, feel this way after a certain point. I know I definitely felt sick of France from about December-February of my TAPIF year simply because it was no longer the land of macarons and inexpensive wine and incredible cheese, but also the land of crazy amounts of paperwork and things going so slowly that I thought I was going to rip my hair out. Going somewhere as a tourist is one thing, going there to study for a semester is another, and going there to live and work is an entirely different ballpark in an entirely different galaxy. It’s hard. It’s hard to be thousands and thousands of miles away from friends and family. It’s hard to deal with things based on the laws and principles of another country and culture that weren’t drilled into you at school. And no matter how much effort you put into it, no matter how much you improve at it, it’s hard to rely entirely on your second language. I was a TAPIFer during the 2015-16 school year, so I haven’t been back in the US too long. But despite all the complaining that I may have done while in France, I still value my time there greatly. Like you said, there are things about France that you just don’t get in the US, like the far-superior food culture (that’s not an opinion, that’s just a fact), and the work-vacation balance (my current job only allows two weeks vacation per year while I had two weeks off every six weeks in France). I also think my struggles during my TAPIF year (which were mostly personal struggles, to be fair) made me more compassionate to immigrants that come to the US. I’ve known non-Americans who come to the US with rose-colored glasses, thinking our lifestyle is just so extravagant and glamorous and we’re all living lives exactly like those being played out in rom-coms set in New York City, but as you and I know, it’s just NOT like that. And I think like you, and like me, everyone who ever moves to another country eventually tires of it and misses certain aspects of home. All we can do is make the best of it for ourselves and try to help those who come after us adjust a bit more comfortably.

    1. This was such a nice comment to wake up to. Cheers Erin, thank you for your kind and encouraging words. You’re right in that anyone who knows me personally or whom has read my blog for more than a mere 30 seconds knows how much I love France. Haterz gonna hate, I guess! bisous

  21. Dana,

    Even though this is more contextual than the edited version on The Local all this negativity and whining wins you nothing, especially cultural understanding.

    That said, after living in France for 10 years I do recognise much of what you say. I take issue with your points on muslim integration and secular law though. I am perhaps fortunate (or lucky to have survived – no woman gets to “choose” what they wear) to have also lived 6 years under islamic rule and I can tell you that you, along with all the mainly American, white middle class liberal “experts” on muslims/islam, really have not got a clue…… no amount of “muslims you know” can bend the truth that the islamic culture IS NOT compatible with the French culture that La Laïcité represents.
    To fall on the side that the problem is therefore that this aspect of France must be racist, is as offensive it is ridiculous.
    If you feel France must change it’s culture to accommodate, you must also be willing then to either accept or change the rest of the world. Here’s a stat for you: approx 4.9% of the worlds muslims live in Europe. Approx 70% live in places where being gay is illegal. More than half of those places have democratically elected governments who have punished women for being raped in the last 24 months….
    France is pretty good for muslims, regardless of what you car pool guy says about his wife (actually he was lying to you if he said that).

    Cheer up.

    Elodi

    1. Wow, how nice of you to comment here on my private blog in addition to the two public posts on the Local France. As you described me on the comments you made publicly: “a self-important, liberal nit-wit from generation special snowflake who needs to clear off”, thank you! Xo

  22. This is well-written. I’ve had criticism over what I eat in my own home without guests, why I don’t shut my shutters on time every evening, why I moved lawn furniture (and the yard is enclosed by 8-foot walls so how in the world did this guy even know?), wearing bright colors and wearing too much black. I used to suffer from invisible-ness, but age has given me standing, I think, or else it’s that I finally look the part. I speak English to husband, who answers in French, so bystanders get very confused. I don’t have any anglophone friends, but I have rescued many a waiter and shop clerk dealing with confused non-French-speaking customers.
    As for the doctor, why not just pay? Even at full price, the cold meds cost less than at Wal-Mart. And a doctor visit is €23–for full price, of which you get reimbursed 2/3. If you don’t have your carte vitale, just pay €23, which is less than a co-pay in the U.S. When we bought our house here, we were living in Belgium, so I had no carte vitale. I had to go to the emergency room. Two days in the hospital cost €300. Of course, when my kid went to the emergency room and was in the hospital for two days we paid zero. €300 hurts but it isn’t the end of the world.
    Economists would say that the system of cash support to low/middle-income families is good. But the social charges and rules about the workplace have to change. I made €2K more last year than the year before and got a “rectification” from URSSAF for almost €6k. So making €2k more puts me €4k in the hole. That is insane. It’s not like I’m raking in tons of money, either.

    1. Thanks for your comments 🙂 Interesting we share some of the same nit picky frustrations.
      I think anyone, anywhere will always have something to say, good or bad unfortunately… enjoy your day

  23. Pretty much all that gets criticized here, whether in France or stateside, wouldn’t need to be if only those RED colored (not rose) glasses you wear, came off

  24. I don’t know if you’re back in the US, but with all that negativity and whining, you should be. So many times you had to say “don’t me wrong.” I would definitely not use your comments about France as a way to judge the country. I know many Americans living in France and they would never return to live in America. Meh. Your writing bored the hell out of me. Move back where you belong so you can now bitch about all the great things in France. No sugar coating for you, cupcake.

    1. Hi Cupcake! Don’t get me wrong, I’m surprised you made it all the way through without falling asleep, considering that my writing is boring and you had to read and comment over several platforms. Don’t get me wrong, you had such wonderful things to say all over the FB page (you great FB warrior you!) but a special thanks for continuing to tell me how much I suck in my personal comments too! xxx

  25. I have lived in France for about 10 years and really don’t recognise this France. I mean, really the French don’t drink Coke? nearly every French person I know drinks gallons of Coke Zero a day. the outlawing of religious symbols in schools is racist? What? Religion is not a race. And do you know nothing of France’s history. What this article smacks of is an American who thinks France is some sort of Gallic theme park in which young Americans can live out some sort of pseudo-intellectual fantasy. France has problems of course it does. Every single country in the world does, whether its the US with its college safe spaces; war on drugs; ridiculous health care system and its meddling in middle east affairs, or the UK with its rotten infrastructure; failing health service and terrible climate.

    Don’t get me wrong I love the US, for its diversity or people, climates and regions. US food is underrated as its vibrant cultural life. I also love it’s get it done attitude and the openness of its people. However, having been here on the Cote d’Azur for a good deal of time I sometimes despair of the young Americans who come here. Often loud, brash and arrogant, sometimes with no French and most unforgivingly who talk down to the locals and seek to impose their cultural norms on the locals. Living in France is not some fantasy its reality and whining when it does not live up to some post-College wet dream is ridiculous.

  26. Hi Dana,

    What I love most about this piece is how you are hanging onto your sense of perspective–neither allowing the frustrations of living in France to destroy your love of the many things that are so wonderful here, nor forgetting the things you (and many of us) REALLY DON’T LIKE about life in the U.S. No place is perfect and there are many ways in which the French could learn from us and we can learn from them. Perspectives and voices like yours–balanced, mostly appreciative, gently critical, patient, measured–can maybe help bring about change in both places, bit by incremental bit…At least we can hope so!

  27. An interesting post. It’s great that you’ve come around full circle: There’s stuff to love about both countries. It’s too bad we can’t pick and choose the good things and go make our own country. I wonder if the racist part of your article is a regional/departmental thing. In the south, I’ve never even gotten one evil glare for speaking in English with friends/family. In fact, once people (servers, shop owners, vendors…) understand that I’m American (or just that I speak English), they either 1. Try to practice English in a respectful way or 2. Talk to me enthusiastically in French about where I’m from and how long I’ve been in France. I’m sure that racism against speaking other languages exists in France, I’ve just never experienced it while living in the south. I must admit, though, that I disagree with you on the religious topic. Religion has only seemed to bring on hate and bullying. I’ve seen this in US public schools. I always thought it would be better to leave that baggage at the door. After all, you’re not going to school to show off your religion. I understand that it can be a part of one’s identity; however, we can throw this argument on just about anything: Smoking is a part of my identity, so I should be able to spoke in the classroom. No, you shouldn’t because it affects others. Religion can also have a similar affect. On the other hand, most students already know your religion before entering the school; however, I’ve noticed a drastic difference between US schools and French schools as far as bully culture in concerned. It’s horrible in the US! Also, I don’t like the idea of immigrants trying to change the country they purposely immigrated to. I’m an immigrant and I’m not trying to change anything because I’m thankfully to be let into this country. I admit that there are things I don’t agree with or that I think could be better, but that’s what I would try and change in my home country. I’m really trying to see the other side. I used to agree with the other side (your side) until I realized that a majority are immigrants (this includes French by blood even 1/8), not actual 100% French citizens. I started to ask myself: “Would I emigrate to Syria (to teach English) and protest against the wearing of headscarves?” This would be something that would drastically change the policies and whatnot… My answer is no. On another note: The public schools in Marseille are equipped (even in the primary schools – the schools I worked at (in low-income neighborhoods) all had computer labs) and there is free wifi in most of the lycées. However, I’ve yet to see any SMART technology. Even in the US, SMART technology is lacking. It’s too bad, too. Every language teacher I worked with in Marseille used Epson, so at least there’s that. That’s what I used while teaching in the US, too. But, I agree that there needs to be more funding in that department so that students will be more interested in the material. I’d rather have no debt. Students abuse the system in the US, too, which is really awful for the side who votes for having free university schooling. They should definitely put in a clause that says that if you fail 3/4 of the classes you’ve taken, then you have to pay at least 1/2 of the government paid tuition back or something that promotes getting good grades. On a positive note, of all of the uni students I know, I don’t know any who abuse the system. So, at least we know there are people out there who take advantage of the fact that they have free tuition and use it to become good economic participators. What a great post! I’ve run into a similar issue: People think that just because I live in France, I’ve got money! I keep having to remind them that I don’t make more money. In fact, I asked myself: In which country would I want to be stuck paying bills (incl. taxes) and doing everyday-normal-functioning-adult things? My answer was (and still is): France. But, that doesn’t mean it’ll always be my answer.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I don’t think there exists such a thing as “racism against English speakers”… It would be more prejudice.

      My point about secular laws is that it’s laws that are being pushed upon outsiders with outsider religions. Sure, fine, leave your religion at the door, but why are we still singing Christmas songs and celebrating Ascension? All or nothing In My opinion and it’s not consistent.

      There are a lot of people here who immigrated unwillingly-refugees after the Algerian war, now Syrians, etc…

      Lots of things to consider. Thanks for your input 🙂

  28. Preach! I’m French and I’ve lived in the UK for many years now. With Brexit hanging over my head, I’ve been thinking about where I would be better off, and it still wouldn’t be France, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. It’s less about falling out of love and more about growing up to see the world as it really is, don’t you think? You can love and hate many things wherever you end up living, and you have to find the place where you can most be yourself, or feel the most fulfilled, despite the hindrances. I’m holidaying in France right now and there is so much to love but the politics, casual racism, sexism and insular thinking does my nut in, let alone the fact that i couldn’t do my job here because i don’t have the necessary diploma. I think it’s healthy to know what you’re up against so you’re not constantly at war within yourself and can enjoy life without constant raging ☺

    1. Thanks Pauline for your nice comment. Ugh, so so awful about Brexit and the Brits living abroad / EU citizens in Britain.. Heart wrenching really.

      I agree in the end it’s about loving yourself and doing the best you can where you are living.

  29. I lived in France a few times before I was 25 and then I set up roots in the States for good (I’m almost 50 now). I’ve been back to visit a number of times since then and I just visited for two weeks at the end of May, during which time I reconnected with people from my younger days. What struck me this time is that I am glad I ended up not living there because the French can be so BOSSY! I got tired this time around being told what I should or should not do about this or that, especially when some of their ideas are not based in evidence or fact! Now that I’m older, and have a good sense of myself, it would drive me nuts to be bossed around like that (if I had stayed, I suppose I would have become bossy, just to survive!)

    1. Interesting take! And I’ve never thought about that before but I suppose you are right in a sense! Thanks for your insight and for your comment- bisous!

  30. This post really enlightened me. Though I did live in France for 4 months studying abroad and 8 months teaching abroad with TAPIF, there are still many things that I do not know. Though some of this stuff I had learned about and experienced while I was living, it’s really good to hear about some of the negatives in the culture. I think people do, way too often (and I’ve experienced this just coming home and coming back to my life in the US), over-romanticize France. They think that I went and lived on this grand adventure (which in some ways I had), and that I lived this glorious life. It’s difficult to fully understand myself and to fully explain that just like every other country, France has it’s problems. For example, I had a really bad cold in January that lasted about a week, and all of the teachers with whom I worked kept asking me if I was going to see a doctor. I didn’t have my carte vitale yet, and I honestly didn’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to find a doctor in my small city that would accept me just for a cold, especially because in the United States you would never go to the doctor for a cold, unless it was a very bad chest cold. I also will admit though that a part of me still has my rose-colored glasses on, but after having lived there for a bit and coming home to see the differences, I feel like I’m starting to see the good and the bad of both the USA and France. Living as an expatriate and encountering two different cultures that you come to call home can be really difficult. I still find myself processing my experiences and what they mean for who I am and my life. I always find your posts encouraging, even when they are brutally honest. We need more honesty in this world.

    1. Ditto- I still have so much more to learn, especially on la laïcité and what it means to the French identity. It is so culturally different I may never understand it… I love open discussions though!

      OMG YES ABOUT HEAD COLDS!! THATS EXACTLY what I’m talking about. So so ridiculous. Stock up on some DayQuil and NyQuil and call it a day, haha

  31. Hi Dana,
    I understand where you’re coming from on a lot of this so I hate to comment with a disagreement but I felt I did have to say that teacher training does exist in France. Having not been trained in the states I can’t of course compare the two systems, and the French one has evolved almost constantly over the past few years, but the CAPES does have some pedagogy in it and most teachers now pass it after two years of an education masters degree. Also your entire first year is basically a trial period with lots of training sessions, visits, and a practical observation evaluation (inspection) at the end where they decide whether you repeat that year, validate your concours, or are just plain fired. Teaching culture is way different here and I have some issues with it but they do put some emphasis on training throughout your career as well.

    1. A totally merited criticism! I actually updated my post to reflect your comments so thank you. I was trained in the US and the two systems as you said are very black and white. I’m glad you were able to relate to some of the things regardless 🙂

  32. I agree with everything you said right here. I also lived in France for a semester when I was 20-21 and I remember it like it was yesterday. Particularly on the contrasts and contradictions regarding gender, specially if you are a woman. It is very interesting but comparing to what I had to live or up with every day, it was a breeze. I am Mexican, and from the North. So a weird intersection of americanized-mexican culture. But I did went to a private business school there, so my experience regarding education differs. I came from a private business University in Mexico, one of the “best ones”. The price for a semester in my school (I had an scholarship though), was the same price those kids paid for a year. And the difference in infrastructure, professors, material taught was ABYSMAL. We were three years behind on content actually. And when you pay that kind of exorbitant money for education in France, you are secured a top job when you finish school. Something that, unfortunately, doesn’t happen in Mexico. You don’t even get a slight advantage if you have a college degree, whether that degree comes from a private or public university doesn’t matter at all. And I also understand with the feeling of falling “out of love” with your new adopted country. What helps me at the end of the day is picking up the positive both my homecountry and new-adopted country have to offer me. The more we remove our nationalistic biases, the happier we are with what we have, or don’t have sometimes. Every culture is different but at the end of the day it is just what a group of people think is right. And that is the double-edge sword of culture. If they were put out of their comfort zone like you, they would see it completely different and frustrating as well.

    1. You hit the nail on the head with some of these business schools. It’s crazy how much a name can mean in regards to a job here (I suppose it would be the same with ivy leagues in the US– I went to a public state school so perhaps I cannot relate on that level)…

      I love your analogies about double edged swords. I suppose at the end of the day I need to remember who I am and what I stand for an leave it at that…

      Thanks for your very interesting comment- I’m looking forward to reading more on your blog!

  33. Yes, yes, yes. I don’t even know where to begin with this comment… so much truth. I haven’t read the other comments yet but I hope you don’t get hate for everything you’ve expressed above. The dentist stuff is so true. As is the part about French people going to the doctor for everything. That’s why we can never get a timely appt because people kind of abuse the privilege. Anyway….

    As a fellow American who blogs, I find it really frustrating sometimes when people who have never lived in France have this overly rose-colored classes mentality going on and I try not to feed into it too much but at the same time, people will believe what they want to believe. So I think your post was extremely well written and necessary to put out there.

    For me, your post sums up pretty much everything that I’ve felt. Nowhere is perfect, and like you said France has a lot of great things going on. But it really does seem ass backwards sometimes for all the reasons you’ve mentioned.
    I think in a way, I’ve slowly turned inward over time and kind of keep to myself. People have just been weird toward me lately and I don’t find people friendly out where I live at all. So I totally get where you’re coming from.
    Also, I had no idea that homosexual couples can’t adopt kids and that women can’t freeze eggs. Really?? In 2016?? I know that surrogates are illegal but wow, that’s news to me. So nuts.

    Great job.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. Every single comment so far has been overwhelmingly positive and I feel so much better knowing that I’m not alone. I have some American friends who still love France and everything about it and so I feel alone in my feelings sometimes. It’s hard to talk to French people about these things especially La Laïcité and it gets so frustrating. I worry because I’ve committed to a few more years here at least and I don’t want to hate where I’m living. Yes, some things here are SO advanced and in other ways you find yourself tearing out your hair saying WTF!?!? I’m glad to have fellow bloggers to connect with and I agree that I’ve also regressed a bit. I hope this is something that will change over time. courage!

      1. You’re welcome. 😉 I’m sure some people reading this (who don’t comment) will majorly disagree, and that’s fine. Maybe some will comment. But it’s so important to show other views of life in France. Or more critical aspects that can factor into one’s overall impression of the country and their experience here.

        I wrote a post a few months back about happiness and how our physical location isn’t the end all and be all of happiness but how when other things in life aren’t great (feeling like you have no purpose, hate your job, trouble in your personal life, etc.), the little problems with life in France become more apparent and domineering.

        Do you ever feel invisible? Happens to me ALL THE TIME. Like I’ll wait in line and people just won’t see me. And if I’m not invisible, I’m a problem for someone. Stupid lady in the neighborhood yells at me for walking my quiet, well-behaved dog on a public street. It’s been one or the other lately! So I just spend time with my husband his family and kind of create my own little happy place. Hope to meet you one day!

        Diane

      2. I remember that post and I whole heartedly agree– it isn’t location as much as it is self- gratification and if you are overall satisfied and fulfilled with what you are doing in your life. It took me awhile to get there…

        Oh, don’t get me started on French people and queues. My flatmate and I like to joke that the French have no depth perception and do not know how to move in crowds or form and orderly line! SO annoying especially at places such as the grocery stores.

        I have a small group of people I really enjoy here- trying to branch out a bit more but that will happen with time. 🙂 Hope to meet you too! xo

  34. It’s easy to idealize a country you are not from there. Maybe it’s because I have visited France several times over many years (I also studied abroad there in college in Toulouse for about 5 months) that I always had a different perspective and didn’t see France as this perfect utopia that got everything right. As much as I love my father’s country, it has its flaws.

    The US is just starting to realize how big oppression against Muslims in France is and how problematic the nonconforming attitude is. I get asked all the time by friends why France has had so many terror attacks in the last year and a half. In order to properly answer this, you have to go back to France’s history and its colonization of North Africa. And many other things I can’t even begin to understand.

    I think you’re realizing that living in France is like living anywhere else. You still have to pay bills, you still have to go work to make money, you still have to deal with the mundanities of life. Just because you live in Paris or wherever doesn’t mean that life is grand all the time.

    1. Exactly! I idealized France for a long time and I’m so disillusioned now… even though I’ve found a way to stay! I’m hoping it will pass and I will be able to see past all of these negative emotions… or at least be able to live with them and be able to better the things I disagree with!

      Also- YES YES YES to terrorist attacks linking to North African civilization/immigration. The people committing these attacks are fully fledged citizens whom have been made to feel ostracized and betrayed by their country (and frankly in many ways for good reason). I understand wanting to smash out the patriarchal and sexist ideologies that come with Islam and Muslims living in France, but I don’t think outlawing religious symbols is the answer (especially when it means that even though things are “the same” does NOT mean they are “equal”.) Thanks for your comment ❤

  35. Dana! You’re amazing and I wish one day we could meet, you and I share a lot of the same beliefs and it would be great ok? (k now I’m like fangirling…) But yeah, I feel the same exact way. Don’t know whether to hate/love either country! Great post 🙂 bisous

    1. I’m doing an exposé Wednesday on a text called “Fractures françaises” by Christophe Guilluy who’s a geography sociologist (?) and it hits on so many of these problems of “mixité” and “métissage”. That chapter I talked about is in a book of his, maybe it’d be of interest to you! I found it fascinating because the whole time I was like, DAMN this is all so true….

  36. I agree I agree I agree! All these things frustrate me about France. But I love all the things you said – the food culture, the work life balance, being able to afford healthcare – and it’s such a beautiful country. I do NOT like being scolded or huffed at for speaking English in public at a normal volume. And there are a million things that I love and hate about the U.S. too – I really relate to what you said in that my feelings towards both countries have really changed since I moved here. I don’t really feel properly American anymore, but of course I’m not French either – I feel like a weird expat hybrid. I’ll see what happens when I move back home (in less than three weeks!! eeeeeek!!!!)

    1. I feel so much better and more validated knowing I’m not alone– on the good and bad points!! I feel like I am stuck in limbo in both places- and even worse the UK doesn’t want me either #thankyouBrexit. I guess we’ll all have to stick together in Triangle Land. ❤ xoxoxo

  37. Sounds like you’re developing just a little bit of a libertarian streak in you. 😉

    I’ve always loved France, and I still do. But as a libertarian, I never fully loved all the socialist policies that you rightfully critique here. Also, that whole work-life balance definitely doesn’t exist in all of France. My au pair friends and I all worked for families married to their careers. At least my boss had a bit of an excuse–as a widow, she was solely responsible her children.

    It sure was nice the one time I needed to see a doctor in France that I didn’t have a co-pay and that my meds were cheap… But I paid WAY more in taxes from my meager assistant salary (and the year before, my meager au pair salary, because yes, I worked legally) than I ever received in benefits.

    1. I haven’t told you this but I totally agree with so many Libertarian policies (more as I’ve gotten older and begun to pay taxes but alas…) I’m glad you are on the same page or at least see where I’m coming from. You are absolutely right that there are exceptions in regards to work-life balance– I live in a poor and unemployed part of France so perhaps I am exposed to a different demographic. I can’t even begin to imagine what you go through in regards to your health and the different doctors/medical appointments you have to endure and I know how much more affordable it is in France… I sometimes ask myself if the care would be as in depth in France… I actually have no idea…

      Thanks for your comment ❤

  38. I identify with a lot of what you’ve said here, without even realising it before. Well said, Dana. And good luck with the new job this year. I’m trying to slowly prepare for the rentrée in order to have a more successful year this time around… and yes, I do blame my disaster of a school year last year on the severe lack of teacher training here! Hope we can meet sometime soon.

    1. I hope we can meet one day too, Haley! I’m glad we are on the same page… I’ve been feeling so frustrated lately and I just needed to put my thoughts into words…

      Good luck with your school year, too. Please, let’s make a point to get together! big bisous!! xo

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