Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ex-pat reflections

"Sometimes I yearn to be in a place where I don't just know more or less what people are saying,
but know exactly what they mean." 
The other day I read a thoughtful and funny article in the International New York Times (once called, much more borderlessly, the International Herald Tribune). My copy of the paper was five days old, but hey! At least there was a copy to be had in the small Italian village. The writer was Pamela Druckerman, author of "Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting." Her subject was ostensibly the experience of taking psychotherapy in French, but was really a few reflections on life as an ex-pat, in her case in France.

After my three-and-a-bit years in Europe, there was much that resonated. A few examples:
"I wasn't sure how long I'd live here, but I did expect my stay to follow a certain ex-pat narrative: You arrive; you struggle to understand the place; you finally crack the codes and are transformed; you triumphantly return home, with a halo of foreign wisdom and your stylish bilingual children in tow."

Bar the children, that's just about my mindset. She goes on:
"But 10 years on, I've gone way off that script...Sometimes I yearn to be in a place where I don't just know more or less what people are saying, but know exactly what they mean." Yup.
Though very funny too, Pamela can get wistful:
" ...there are people like me, who study France and then describe it to the folks back home. We're determined to have an "authentic" French experience. And yet, by mining every encounter for its anthropological significance, we keep our distance, too. No matter how familiar Paris becomes, something always reminds me that I don't belong..."
 Read the full article here.

These are appropriate reflections as I make a few changes...back to Australia for a few months, for one thing. And this blog moving over to Wordpress, for another. I hope regular readers will follow me....

...hasta la vista....a presto....


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