Hello, fellow bloggers!
Having lived in Normandy for over two months now, I am slowly beginning to get used to the way of life here, let alone France. The pace is definitely slower here, compared to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, in which I grew up and lived in for my entire life. Certainly, the atmosphere here is different from that in the United States.
Yet, even though I am getting used to (and even enjoying) my situation abroad, there are some things that I do miss from back home- in the States, that is. I admit, it is hard to completely let go of things that have stayed with you since childhood, especially those that you were brought up and raised with. From the little things like favorite candies to the bigger things like friends and family, it is all too easy to feel deprived when you move away and don’t have those things anymore.
I have compiled a list of things that I miss from the United States or, at least, the things that I have definitely taken for granted my entire life. I am pretty sure that many of you can relate to them! Without further ado, here we go! 🙂
1. 24-hour services. From the 24-hour gyms to fast-food restaurants opened all night long, those services just don’t exist in France! On average, gyms in France open around 9h00 (too late for us who work to get in a workout) and close around 18h00 (just as we’re getting off work). With the exception of kebab eateries (which can go as late as 1h00), most restaurants, even bars, shut down by midnight- not ideal for party-goers.
As a result, it has been frustrating for me to go out at all, considering that not only do places close early, but also the bus services that I rely on stop operating after 20h00. Oh well, what are you going to do? *shrugs
2. The weather. Oh man, oh man, where to start… Now, I knew that moving to Normandy would be a new experience for me, considering that I am coming from the hot and dry environment of Los Angeles. I knew that Normandy would be colder than Southern California, but I didn’t know that it would be colder than I had imagined! Heck, just this past weekend, I experienced hail for the first time- and I was outside! Incroyable! 😛
3. Everything is bigger. From restaurant food portions to homes to distances between cities, everything is bigger in the United States. While I wouldn’t say that the portions at French cafés are minuscule, they are a tad smaller than the American equivalents (say, about 33 percent less food, but 33 percent more in prices).
As for apartments (or “flats,” as I call them now), most are, indeed, small. Especially in the cities: not too long ago, I stayed with a friend of mine in Rouen, and he lives in a dinky flat that, while close to Hôtel de Ville, is nevertheless still dinky. It’s a studio apartment, so everything’s cramped. His bed is basically a Futon, and we had to sleep in the same bed together, just because there was no room whatsoever. He pays an arm and a leg for it (like, half of his salary!), but man, French apartments…they’re insanely tiny…
I guess, though, the upside is that Haute-Normandie (where I’m situated in) is one of the smaller regions in France; they are clusters of little communes throughout, and takes only minutes to get to each by car. But again, even though the region is small, it’s also difficult to get from place to place, especially without a car. Like I said, the pace is slower here, and so if you want to take the bus to get around, expect a 45-minute ride to the nearest city, instead of a 25 to 30-minute drive there by car. Quite frustrating, but could be worse.
4. Reese’s. I was incredibly surprised that France does not sell Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! (What?!!). Surely, if the country offers snacks like Twix and Oreos, then why wouldn’t they have Reese’s? Then again, France doesn’t sell peanut butter (I have not seen any at all in grocery stores), so I guess it makes sense that they don’t have Reese’s.
However, I was able to find Mars Bars in France! Seriously, I haven’t had them since I was a kid; for some reason, I think the U.S. stopped distributing them, because I haven’t seen any at all back at home! Glad to have them again, though… 😛
5. Family and friends. Now, I’ve written a post on homesickness, in which I addressed the fact that I miss my family and friends (which you can check out here). But yes, I want to reiterate that, while the people who I’ve met and established relations with (from colleagues to other assistants in the program), nothing beats the unconditional love from my family and friends back home.
Granted, I still talk to my parents two to three times a week, through the international texting apps (a godsend, really). And I reach out to my friends on Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp as much as I can, even though we all have busy and different lives. The nine-hour time difference makes it difficult to coordinate Skype conversations as well. Still, though, I am eternally grateful that technology has made connecting to others so simple in this day and age. Really, it’s amazing. 🙂
6. Boba milk tea. Or anything that has to do with multi-cultural food (e.g. Korean, Thai, Mediterranean, Mexican, etc). Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy French food. But it does get tiring after a while. And if you know anything about French grub, it’s a lot of meat, cream, and potatoes- not the most flavorful or diverse cuisine out there. The French don’t use any spices, really, so many dishes are quite on the bland side.
Plus, there are no boba places here. There is one Chinese restaurant in my town, but I haven’t seen it opened at all. Granted, there are some nice Moroccan and Lebanese restaurants out there, as well as a few Indian and Japanese restaurants in the nearby city. I admit, kebabs have become a favorite of mine. But still, there are times when I would crave a good pad Thai or a solid street taco, but just don’t have them from where I live. Alas, until I return…
7. A car. While you can probably get by with taking the metro or tram everywhere in places like Paris or even Rouen, that’s not so much the case in my small town. There are no metros, no trams that connect from place to place- you’re stuck either with the bus (which at times have been late or never showed up) or relying on rides from friends and colleagues (which I hate doing, but sometimes have no choice). That, or you walk.
Then again, I have *sort of* gotten used to walking to places within my town; I live a bit outside of the city center, and the walk over is about 20 to 25 minutes on foot, so I suppose that it gives me something to do during the day (as well as exercise). Still, a car…wouldn’t mind having one so that I can explore more of Normandy. Especially if it is an automatic one! 😛
All right, that’s about it for me. Again, I assure you that I love France, and am not being bratty by saying that I miss these things mentioned from back home. In fact, after writing this post, I realized how much I took them for granted, and know that I will have to continue to adapt to my environment. Granted, it’ll take time, and I will probably not fully feel at home until I am about to leave in April next year! But until then, I will try.
— The Finicky Cynic
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