Going Home: What No One Really Talks about

A few months ago, I sat down with two Polish friends in an Irish Pub in Copenhagen. We talked about many different things and I felt inspired by their input, as I always do when I find myself among people who come from different places. Foreigners (to you, which potentially, could be anyone…) always bring their own backgrounds into the conversation and that is, to me, what makes these conversations particularly rich.

That day, we knew it, was one of the last nights we would spend together as I was a few weeks away from going back “home”, a home which hadn’t been mine for the past 5 and a half years. It was about to be special, in many ways, and our conversation slowly went on to touch on the most interesting topics to the nomad’s life: being “back”.

Surprisingly enough, I had never talked nor heard anyone talk about what one of my two friends mentioned: pressure.

Oh, the pressure of going back home… Where do I start? Does being “back” really mean being “back” to where we left from, to the mindset we were in before flying out, to the same routine, to the same house, to the same people?

Going back home is very hard – because everything can be the same and yet nothing feels as it fits anymore. But the expectations are the same. Your parents expect the same from you. Your siblings. Your friends. Your country’s workplace. Your neighbourhood. Nothing has changed but you have and everything needs to be updated.

The food you couldn’t live without suddenly doesn’t look appealing to you anymore; you find yourself having to look for conversation topics to discuss with your best friends when you used to spend so much time together without ever wondering why you’d have to leave; the places you used to love have become dull; no job position seems to be of interest for your profile and your desires; the people you thought could understand you the best have no answer to comments or questions nor does it seem they have any interest in listening to you anymore.

And it’s hard not to think it is bad. That you are bad, that they’re bad, that the food is bad, that the neighbourhood is bad, that the work situation is bad, that the people are bad, that everything is bad. It is hard because, somehow, it feels like it. Because in that other place, you found this amazing food that seems to have been made for you; you found this company to work in, which you loved so much you could have created yourself; you made such special friends you wished could have come along with you; you’ve seen so many places where you’d see yourself live a daily life; you’ve seen so much that what you have now, back home, does not seem enough, does not seem to fit who you are anymore.

Everyone, everything – they keep expecting the same things from you. The same behaviours, the same way to dress, the same tastes, the same desires, when maybe, maybe, something has changed within you, some things have changed, you don’t really know why, but you find it hard to explain and you’re not sure where it comes from, but it’s there, it’s different, it’s special and you wished you could do something about it.

I think it’s about updating and being okay with the change that’s happened within. Being okay with the fact that you’re not the same. And that it’s a good thing.

Maybe our home countries can deal with our changes, too (and by home countries, I mean everything around us, the people, the food, the landscapes, the plants, the animals, etc.); but we have to make the update, be proactive and change what has to be changed. Updating might not work, but it’ll be worth the try. And then the world is still open, and there’s still time and places to go…

youve-changed-id-hope-so-drawing

Douce France et son éducation en carton

Dernièrement je me dis souvent que c’est une bonne chose de ne pas avoir fait mes études en France. J’entends plein de gens, jeunes comme moins jeunes, avec ou sans expérience professionelle, me dire que de toute façon, aujourd’hui, tu fais rien avec un master.

Et moi, ça me fait beaucoup réfléchir parce que j’ai pas du tout cette impression là. En juin, je serai pour la deuxième fois diplômée d’université, j’aurai un master en pôche, comme on dit, et j’ai vraiment hâte. Mais j’ai pas hâte parce que j’en ai marre d’étudier – j’ai adoré environ chaque jour de mes études parce qu’ils m’ont tous poussée à aller plus loin dans ma recherche de savoir et de sagesse et de but etc. – mais parce que j’ai hâte de faire plein de choses.

J’ai plein d’idées. Plein d’espoir.

Je regarde plein d’annonces sur LinkedIn, GraduateLand, jobsearch et tout le toutim, et avant ça, j’ai encore 5 mois avant de finir mon master, et j’ai déjà un boulot que j’aime bien, et j’ai commencé un blog hyperactif avec une amie, ce qui me rend plutôt occupée. Et même comme ça, quand j’imagine mon futur, je rêve, j’arrive pas à compter toutes les belles découvertes et aventures qui m’attendent tellement j’en vois, et j’imagine en plus de ça toutes celles que je vois pas et là j’ai envie que les 5 prochains mois passent vite et…

Et je me rends compte que je suis vachement privilégiée. À la base, je suis une optimiste, et peut-être un peu naïve mais jusqu’ici, ma naïveté m’a ammenée dans de jolis endroits, donc je tente de la conserver… Mais quand même ! Pourquoi ? Pourquoi j’ai l’impression d’être la seule petite jeune française qui arrive à avoir le sourire quand elle pense au futur ? À la vie professionelle, à l’entrée dans la vie active ?

France symbols - http-::www.lachambredessecrets.com:symbols-of-france:.jpg

Oh yes, Fwance, fwomage, oh la la – Source

Sûrement parce que j’ai pas eu à écouter tous les discours franco-français sur l’importance de l’une ou l’autre école en France (c’est la meilleure donc c’est ça ou tu vas avoir du mal, oui, tu n’as que 20 ans mais là je pense que t’es foutu(e)), sur l’importance de faire 5 ans d’études ou rien, sur l’importance d’une fois sorti(e) du bac, peut-être à même pas 18 ans, de choisir des études dans un intérêt purement practique (fais pas prof parce que c’est mal payé, encore moins de sport parce que c’est mal vu, ah et puis psychologie tu ne peux pas parce que tu n’as qu’un petit bac L de rien du tout, fais pas non plus sage-femme parce que tu dois passer par médecine et c’est impossible de réussir, ah et surtout pas de musique ou d’art ou de théâtre ou de philo parce que là tu te mets des bâtons dans les roues, mais vraiment, des bâtons super lourds, de métal, impossible à casser ni retirer…), ou même de choisir des études tout court, et surtout, de ne jamais rater pour finir au plus tôt possible, et de ne, jamais au grand jamais, changer d’avis.

Et moi, j’ai fait à peu près tout le contraire. J’ai pas été dans une école importante, j’ai été dans une école qui me plaisait, pour les cours qu’elle offrait. Ensuite, je me suis arrêtée un an, pour voir un peu le monde. Et puis ce que j’ai choisi, c’était pas tellement pratique (vaut mieux être ingénieur que traducteur, non ?), et en plus (!!!!) j’ai changé d’avis ! Et on m’a demandé pourquoi, en trouvant que, clairement, c’était pas normal. Et puis, en changeant d’avis, j’ai choisi un truc encore moins “pratique”, parce que vraiment, tu veux faire quoi avec un master de linguistique, qui en plus ne vient pas de la Sorbonne, mais d’une université danoise, franchement qu’est-ce qui t’a pris ?

Et en faisant tout le contraire de ce qu’on nous dit de faire en France, je me suis mise sur la voie qui me plaisait le plus, la voie où passe un train avec des fauteuils qui sont à ma taille, de la couleur qui me plaît ; dedans il y a de la peinture que j’ai choisi pour pouvoir dessiner et peindre l’extérieur (mais parfois je m’arrête pour choisir une autre couleur parce que j’ai changé d’avis, et puis un peu de changement ça fait du bien de temps en temps) et en plus, je peux même choisir la vitesse à laquelle il va (par contre il n’a pas de prises électrique pour charger mon Samsung système solaire 19+476, je préfère pas, ça me pousse à lire un peu plus).

Autumn train ride http-::indulgy.com:post:Hk3r3ol1m1:autumn-train-ride.jpg

Les super vues depuis mon train – Source

 

Je le sais, j’ai eu beaucoup de chance : la chance de pouvoir partir, d’être épaulée et soutenue dans les décisions que je prenais. À défaut de me mettre des bâtons de métal dans les roues, on m’a donné des super roues toutes légères pour que j’avance mieux, pour que je doive pas pédaler pour rien, et de bons freins, pour avoir le temps de changer de direction si je m’étais dirigée vers la mauvaise (t’as compris, mon train est électrique, c’est moi qui pédale pour qu’il avance).

Mais il font comment, les autres ? Ceux qui ont de mauvaises roues et des freins pourris, à qui on rajoute (comme si c’était pas déjà suffisant) des bâtons ?

L’été dernier, on m’a dit que c’était bien de partir de la France, pour voir du paysage, voir comment ça fonctionne ailleurs, mais qu’il fallait revenir. Qu’il fallait revenir pour partager ce qu’on avait appris. Ce qu’on avait vu. Reste juste à trouver comment…

(J’aurais pu nommer cet article “pourquoi j’ai pas DU TOUT envie de te revoir” ou “tu m’énerves et me déprimes” et “franchement j’avoue avec des études on fait rien et j’ai l’impression que ça a à voir avec ton système éducatif de m$*ù% qui date du siècle dernier” mais j’ai opté pour un titre un tant soit peu plus doux, parce qu’en fait j’ai fait des sciences “””””douces”””””, ou “””””molles””””” donc je suis capable d’à peu près… bah, que de ça.)

Birthday Words

I’ve always loved birthdays. And because my mind remembers little details such as birthday dates, I’m usually able to remember the most important ones – and I like to.

If you know me, you know how positive I am and it just makes sense for me to be excited about birthdays: how much more lively and happy than a birthday can you get? It seems like a little thing, it’s just one person’s special day, one might say, but let’s think about it for a second (okay, maybe a little more). Is it really that little?

A birthday means life. A birthday means that x years ago, you made someone’s day, maybe two people’s days, probably more people’s days, just because you took your birth breath, your first cry, and were on your way to doing your first everything. X years ago, on that very same day, you made people happy. You came into the world. Another human life came into this world, and it was a miracle.

Or maybe you didn’t make anyone happy, which is probably a lie, but let’s say you didn’t. You cannot just deny the fact that x years ago, you came into this world, and it was a miracle. The union of two people allowed for you to be created. Flesh and flesh made more flesh, mind and mind made more mind, and that’s you. A human life made out of other human lives.

You are life. And your birthday needs to be celebrated for this very reason.

252630_4146472017116_1422552855_n

My sister and I for her 16th birthday. She’s about to blow candles on her “Merveilleux“, a delicious cake that we used to have at home every time one of us in the house would turn a year older until I moved out.

Another important reason why I love birthdays is because on these particular days, people always always always show how kind and thoughtful they can be. Birthdays are filled with love, laughter and positivity.

I’ve received messages and calls from 5 different continents, I received mate from Argentina, a card from France, jasmine tea from China, virtual and real hugs and kisses from all over Europe and each little gift I was given all contained at least one thing: love.

Love. On all five continents, in all hearts, there’s kindness and love. People willingly take a few minutes, maybe even just seconds (3″ to click on the link given by Facebook to post a 3-word message that will take 10″ to write, and 1″ to move the cursor and press enter) to wish someone else a happy birthday, or say congratulations, or maybe something else, depending on the language used by and the personality of the sender.

Maybe there’s Facebook, you’ll say. Maybe it’s just because it’s there and so people click the button. And maybe they don’t know you but write to you either way because it’s there. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about motivations. Whatever your reason for writing a birthday message, for writing anything positive, any good thought – what matters is the intention. People clicked on the link Facebook gave them. People can click. People can write good things. People can do acts of kindness.

It warms my heart – not because people thought of me specifically, but because people can think of others and take time for others. Kindness. Love.

Kindness. Love. If I have a drink tonight, I’ll raise my glass to humanity, and to kindness and to love.

lighting-candles.jpgSource

Don’t Tell Ze French you ‘ave Diarrhea

Featured image was found here!

Aï am veri sorri if iou are French and can’t stand reading zis piece ov informésheun. Euh litteul bit ov auto-dérision néveur ‘eurt énioane.

Not too long ago, I was talking to an Asian friend of mine, while getting out of class, and we were talking about coffee and tea habits. I asked her if she could have milk products like cheese and yoghurt, if it was fine with her stomach, given the fact the Asian body supposedly cannot digest dairy products properly, as I’d heard. She answered that she’d only just learned about this and that she’d always eaten dairy products. We were out of class now, I was walking in front of her and another French friend of mine, and she added, very casually, that “sometimes [she] get[s] diarrhea”.

Uh-oh. What face do I put? She just shared something VERY personal and very UNSPOKEN in the French culture and Elise and I start to laugh in a very awkward way, not getting over the fact that she just shared this kind of info, yeah she did, she did share that, she said that sometimes eating dairy products gives her diarrhea. Fortunately, I did not have to look at her in the eyes while she said such a thing. I can’t believe she said this… And I’m sure Elise is thinking something along those lines…

See, when you are born and raised the French way, you don’t say these things to classmates unless you are VERY close. You might even never talk about these things. Nope. Only your doctor needs to know this. And no one else.

CharmeDiscret-de-lintestin.jpg

French title, litteral translation: “The Discreet Charm of the Intestine”.

Look at this translation: this book was written in German, “Darm mit Charme”, which can (apparently) translate into “Charming bowels” (according to Google translate, “Gut my charm”). In English, this title was translated in a very scientific way: “Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ”. And then you have ze French, who decide to say that the gut is charming, okay, whatever you say, but that we can’t have it this way, it has to be in a very discreet, reserved manner, meaning you have to keep your gut activities and thingies and whatever is going on in there very well hidden, however charming it might be. People need to know they can read this peacefully without being judged because this is too crazy to be talked about, you know?

To other people, i.e. the non-French, this is just normal. And this is something that you realise and get used to when you live abroad. Your ears have no choice but to adapt. Last weekend, I went to a yoga class, and right after, they usually offer a “ginger shot” (infused ginger in water with honey) – but this time, there was another kind of shot, a pre-made fermented Kombucha. I ask what it is, and I am told it’s a kind of mushroom that’s supposed to be good for the gut, your digestion and all that jazz. To this is added the following sentence: “If you drink this a lot, you will get a lot of farting”. WHAT!

french-Stereotypes-infograp.jpg

This is what happened in my mind: This is just crazy to me. I’ve known you for over a year, I see you about every week and know nothing about you or your life apart from the fact that you own this yoga studio, because you are very busy and also very Danish, and now you tell me that I’ll get a lot of farting if I have 2L of this kombucha drink!

Just writing these words now requires a lot of preparing for me. A few years ago, I would probably not have been able to write this article. My French fingers and mind just find it weird to be talking about such matters if not for a health-related purpose. A little voice in my head keeps telling me that these subjects and body activities are unsuitable for casual conversation with someone I barely know, let alone for a blog article.

This illustrates how conservative the French mind can be. Many topics that would fit in a lot of conversations in other places are taboo to us so-called frogs and simply cannot be addressed in casual conversation: your gut health, sex and everything that has to do with it (although I think this one is rather international), foreign origins that might not be too good-looking (your parents come from Africa, wow, this is, this is… Beautiful sky today, right?), money, inter-cultural marriages, and anything that’s a bit different than the established norm. Things are this way and in no other could they be carried out.

Swearing should also be limited, but that’s for another day.

Is it similar in your culture? I’m curious to know!

NB: This is a broad picture of my culture when it comes to “”sensitive”” subjects, but then as always, it’s all relative and everything that is written here can be subject to change, depending on age, origins, open-mindedness and more.