I had never imagined living in France…
I had never imagined living in France.
Whilst many of my female friends back in university took French as their second foreign language as they fancied learning this beautiful language, I took German instead simply because we had a German dictionary in my parents’ place.
The only connection with French culture was the fact that my grandmother spoke French as she went to a catholic school taught only by French sisters, but since she lived far away and she died long before I started to have connection with France, the only phrase that I learned from her was “Ma Petite Poupée”.
Without having any interests or knowledge about French, I started to work for an American IT company based in Japan. To my surprise, my very first business trip was… to France! I arrived in Lyon one early October. Between the meetings, I visited beautiful castles, pebble paths that leads to the hill, my real first wine tasting in the basement of the hotel/castle. Everything was amazing and it blew me away. My French was so limited and I had to make the best use of words that I knew. I knew how to say “chocolat” so I had to order everything in chocolate; hot chocolate, chocolate crepe, chocolate bar..
After that, I visited France several times but since I had changed my job and moved to U.S., I almost forgot all about those memories. One day, I went out for a hike with my friends to an island called “Angel Island” near San Francisco and I met a French man who was in U.S. for only 6 months for his project. We fell in love and married in only 4 months. When his project was about to finish, we decided to move to his country together and start a new life in France.
I started to learn French for the first time in my life as a complete debutant. Even after 5 years has passed, conjugation still makes me crazy! About two years ago, we bought a house just outside Paris. We can still take the metro to go to Paris but we have a life of tranquilité. My morning starts with birdwatching in the backyard, where we can see many different types of birds coming and going. In summer we have a BBQ every weekend, and sometimes we even invite our neighbors for apero under a grape arch. When it gets cold, we light the fireplace and bake potatoes in it. On weekends, we often go out for movies or dinner with our friends in Paris. Paris is a place where you can always discover something amazing; history, music, fashion, gastronomy, architecture, etc…
My husband is originally from the Alps, so lifestyle there is quite different from where we live. Whenever we visit, we enjoy this wonderful country living. We also love to travel and visit many different places. It is hard to believe that there are so many beautiful places yet to be discovered in this country.
Of course, life here is not just a beautiful ‘Disney world’, and I have experienced some difficulties as well.
When I first arrived in France, we did not have any telephone line working for 3 months! I cried several times with such culture shock. But those difficulties make my life here more interesting and unforgettable. I could keep those experiences only in my mind, but I thought it would be nice if I could share those with different people in the world because I can tell you something you can’t find in a guidebook. Well, I hope you enjoy my future articles.
I love that everything you had to order chocolate everything – what a tough, and delicious time! Thank you so much for sharing your story Nahoko and remember how far you’ve come, particularly with the language.
Thank you nahoko, your story is really lovely. I am fascinated by this ‘french thread’; yours starting with your grandmother then coming to life after a chance encounter when hiking on an island near San Francisco! I love it and look forward to more…Judy
Thank you for reading my first article! I am excited about shareing more about my life in France!
What a delightful article Nahoko – it seems you are living in a delightful part of Paris.I enjoyed your revelation about the often serendipitous nature of life…with the meeting of your ‘French man’ on Angel Island. Life twists and turns in many interesting ways n’est-ce pas?
Suzanne, Thank you for your comments. Yes, life is crazy. I wonder what kind of life is waiting for me!?