Two Years in France: Un Bilan

My two year anniversary in France was this past Friday, September 26. I realize I have done a lot  / accomplished a lot / suffered through a lot over the past 24 months in France:

  • obtained 5 Carte de Séjours from my best friends at the Préfecture
  • exchanged American driver’s license for French one and bought a car
  • moved 3 times to other suburbs around Annecy, but never to Annecy proper
  • finished 14 months of being forced to teach British English as an assistant
  • received my American Master’s degree in Linguistics & Teaching ESL
  • got PACSed to my adorable Frenchman and adopted a cat together
  • survived 10 months of unemployment/boredom
  • found a job post-assistantship that I adore

Of course there are some things I haven’t been able to accomplish, like teaching that Americans don’t, in fact, ever say “I speak American” unless they’re being overly patriotic. But I suppose my largest “failure” as I see it, is not adjusting to French culture more. I am just as American as the day I arrived… and considering how un-American I thought I was when I actually lived in the US, it’s a bit of a conundrum.

Do I have many French friends? No. Do I speak French all day? Nope. Do I watch French TV? Oh god no. I do read French newspapers and watch French news shows – but the TV shows I watch are American dubbed into French. Most of the food I eat is not very French. I do not dress like the French because I have no fashion sense. My hair doesn’t even look French because I’m too lazy to get it cut more than twice a year. I will never drive like the French because I want to stay alive. I will always think having 2 hours for lunch is a complete waste of time. And doing the bises is a never-ending source of awkwardness and discomfort for the germaphobe in me.

I agree with the government on health care access and lots of vacation time, but I do not agree with the French idea of focus on the family. I never want to have kids, and so I get really annoyed when people mention that David’s younger sister already has a baby and we don’t. Well, so what? I guess the baby thing is universal though – I’m sure I would get that in the US too – but I just feel that it’s more of a personal attack in France since there are so many government-sponsored benefits for having kids and it’s kind of just expected of couples here.

But you see, every time I disagree with something that is “French” I feel as though I will never fit in here or that the French will hate me because of it. I will always be the strange American girl who thinks sea food for Christmas dinner is disgusting. The rebel who doesn’t want to have kids, but rather cats and dogs. The weirdo who never, ever drinks alcohol, not even wine! ::gasp::

There are a lot of things I love about France; and a few things I hate, which I won’t get into now… But overall, I am much happier here than I was in the US, and not just because of David and my job. I used to say that I was almost ashamed to be American, but I suppose the truth is that I was ashamed of the conservative government that limited human rights, denied science, ignored the rest of the world and favored the rich. I am proud to be American, though I may not say it out loud, because it will always be a part of who I am. But I am also proud to be (hopefully one day) French, even if I don’t feel very French right now.

I want to be a lectrice forever.

I love my job! I work with three classes in the labs: Vocabulary, Pronunciation and Business English. In all of them, I can spy on the students with my headset and make sure they are actually doing the lessons and using English. (I have ALL the power!!!) For vocab class, I’m redoing the weekly HTML […]

Full Story »

More Language Learning Tips

Websites I found these past few weeks: Dialang is a neat program that you can use to determine your European Level in a foreign language. There are 5 tests – reading, writing, listening, grammar and vocabulary – available for 14 languages – Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish […]

Full Story »

Major Website Updates this Summer

Summer is over and I go back to work tomorrow, so I wanted to post the major updates to my website that I’ve done over the past few months. I’m not sure how much time I will have to devote to my site once the semester gets into full swing. First, I have created an […]

Full Story »

All Things American

Mom just sent a package of things that David & I have been missing lately. Now that it’s almost fall, I’m really getting nostalgic for America… and Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Apparently as soon as the temperature drops, I lump all of those holidays together. Luckily I should only have to work until noon […]

Full Story »

Quick Update.

ANPE is still harassing me about finding a job. Just one day after sending me a letter saying it was ok that I didn’t go to the mandatory meeting because I had found a job, they send me an offre d’emploi and apparently want me to tell them for a THIRD time that I have […]

Full Story »

How’s my accent?

I finally got David to record more mp3s for the French tutorials (we’re now halfway done with French VII, vocabulary for those living in France), and I decided to record myself speaking French as well. I just read the sentences from the first topic on French VII. David (native speaker of French) [podcast][/podcast] Me (native […]

Full Story »

Martha moves to Turkey

Martha is one of my closest friends from “back home” – i.e. Michigan. I have known her for about 7 years. We met in German 111 at the University of Michigan-Flint and I thought she was the coolest person ever because she had lived in Germany for a few years. Turns out Martha is also […]

Full Story »

ANPE is on my list now too…

The ANPE is half of the unemployment services here in France. The ASSEDIC is the actual agency that gives you the unemployment benefits (unless you worked for the rectorat), while ANPE helps you with finding a job. When you sign up for unemployment, you have a mandatory meeting at ASSEDIC and a mandatory meeting at […]

Full Story »

Possibly Free Public Transportation & Museums next week in France

September 16-22 is the Semaine Européenne de la Mobilité so check your city/town’s public transportation websites for information on the programme for the week. La journée des “transports publics” is Wednesday, September 17, so buses, bikes, trams, etc. may be free or have a reduced fare for the day. Here in Annecy, Sibra buses and […]

Full Story »

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.


The 2nd edition of French Language Tutorial is available as a PDF book. It has been updated with much more vocabulary, sample sentences, and cultural information, plus extended vocabulary lists, cross-referenced topics, and an alphabetical index.

Visit the Store to buy the PDF e-book for $14.95 or paperback book for $29.95.