It hits me when I am least expecting it. Little things remind me that, once again, this country messes with my head sometimes. Like last week I read online that the new female character in Star Wars, Rey, had a British accent (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler). How did I miss that, I asked myself? I didn’t recall that at all.
Er, that’s because I saw it in French! Strange how my mind just skipped over that fact. But that wasn’t all. I didn’t even know that it was called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, because I was so used to seeing Le Réveil de la Force (the awakening of the force).
I must face facts. I am a hybrid. It’s the term my expat friends and I often use to describe ourselves these days. We have subtly changed in so many little ways that we don’t even notice it anymore. We watch movies in French because maybe we can’t get it in English and don’t even know the real English title.
But being a hybrid extends to just about every domain, from cooking to parenting. Here are just a few examples of how I am morphing day by day. Read on to see if you are too.
|Even the French are on the hybrid bandwagon.|
1. You use French words in an English conversation without even realizing it. Sometimes it’s just easier to use the French word, especially if it’s some government acronym or expression like: “sécu” for health insurance or “smic” instead of minimum wage.
2. You leave up your Christmas tree till at least January 6th because, hey, everyone else is doing it while eating king’s cake for Epiphany. I just took mine down January 9th. It’s kind of relaxing not to have to pack it all up on January 1st.
3. You decide whether to hug or cheek-kiss your friends based on their nationality. Sometimes you do a combo hug and kiss because you don’t know where you are anymore. Check out this British comic’s hilarious and true take on the famous cheek kisses in France.
4. You describe your parenting style as North American/Parisian. You consider yourself stricter than some American parents but laxer than most French ones. Especially when it comes to snacking.
5. Your bicultural kid eats diced beets and grated celery root at the cafeteria but snubs her nose at Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese. She still knows all the ingredients in s’mores though and asks for them by name.
6. Your grocery list is in Frenglish and includes oatmeal and fromage. Lots of fromage.
7. You do a little dance in the supermarket when you spot Dr. Pepper or French’s honey mustard but you still love you some goat cheese on anything. And you have become a bread snob
8. You celebrate Thanksgiving but it might be before or after the actual date. You also celebrate Epiphany and Chandleur and any French holiday involving pastries.
9. You rehearse what you want to say in French to cashiers and civil servants even when you go back to your home country and are about to speak English. Then you feel silly.
10. You start conversations in one language and finish them in another. And so does everybody in your household except the cat.
11. You sometimes can’t remember words in your native language and realize that some French expressions just don’t translate in English.
12. Your dress code is continental and casual at the same time.
13. Your family and friends back home think you have a European accent now. Your new countrymen say you’ll never lose your American accent when you speak French.
14. You don’t know all the titles of the latest movies in English and you can identify the French dubbing voice of Julia Roberts from a mile off even when it is used for a different actress.
15. You miss your home country and the food. And your family. But you also feel somewhat at home in your adopted country. And you're not sure how you feel about that.
So if you are a hybrid, embrace your mixed status. It keeps you on your toes and never gets boring. And maybe we’re like hybrid cars- the wave of the future in a world that is more and more international. Beware though- we tend to be a little high maintenance.