Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trop negative?

Lately I have been hearing a lot that I am too negative regarding France/the French and that some people are even starting to wonder why I even live in this country.

I was honestly a little shocked by this as I didn't think I was ever that negative, and I also always thought that when I was being negative against France that it was only things that most French people would even agree with i.e. slow bureaucracy, la poste, etc.  However; according to most of my husbands friends, a few of my French friends, and even some distant acquaintances I am far more negative than I ever thought.

While my extremely negative mind is screaming "it's because you are French and you are happy to critique everyone else and any other country, but can't stand the thought that there could ever be anything bad to be said about yours because France is perfect and the French are perfect," I have to wonder whether or not there is any truth to this; perhaps I am very negative and there is a reason to ask why I am living in this country.  I always thought it would be interesting to find out the good and the bad about what people think about America and their experiences living there, but I guess this is another cultural differences between France and America; while I am very curious, the French, perhaps, do not want to know.

So, I have decided I want to open myself up to some critique about my country and see what I think about it and if I find myself being insulted.  I, of course, already know the basics, the things I hear all the time about America/Americans: we are all fat, self-centered, unfashionable, superficial, cultureless, gun-toting cowboys who like to shoot everyone, don't know or care about the rest of the world and who work too much and never take vacation.  But I am very curious to hear more about what other people (especially the French) think about our system, our way of life, etc in America.  I am hoping that hearing other people's critiques of the US will help me realize that things are complicated and ridiculous everywhere when you are an expat and will help to cure me of some (if not all) of my negativity.

And so, I am hoping to get some help.  I am looking primarily for books, but I suppose blogs would work as well (though I would like at least one book) that talk about a French person's experience living in the US.  I am thinking something similar to Stephen Clarke's books, A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually and other such books that point out the problems/differences in an entertaining way.  I'm also, of course, open to any blogs on the subject of ex-pat life in America (particularly from the French viewpoint).

I am very open to whatever suggestions I can get as I am very curious to hear what foreigners think about life in America, the administration, the differences between their culture and ours, etc.  So please, help me!!!  Thanks!


  1. Don't worry about being seen as too negative. I think it's a cyclical thing, and maybe in 6 months or a year enough little things will have changed you won't feel the same way about similar experiences. I definitely had a negative period a little more than 2 years ago. And even if you criticize France and the French, it's doesn't mean that on the whole you don't like it. A child could be really difficult and cause their parents lots of grief, but that doesn't mean they wish they didn't have the kid.
    As for the French experience of the US, about the only thing I can think of is the magazine France-Amérique

  2. I could definitely see, from your blog, how you might be construed as negative but would really not worry about it. It's the nature of expat life. I've lived outside the US for a decade in four countries and trust me, we all go through it. And in your case, it makes sense. Your husband is French; perhaps you can't vent to him as you might want to, so using other outlets is natural. As far as how others see America, I can't speak for expats in the States, but as an American expat there are LOADS I could see as negative! Crazy car obsessions, insane health system, weird fascist Tea Party people, general lack of interest/curiosity about the outside world, Muslim panic, homophobia, etc. The things I complain about most on my (rare) trips home are the weird American culture of talking to strangers for no reason and butting in their business and the strange belief that people somehow *deserve* whatever they want and that effort = aptitude or advancement. All very weird and off-putting, in my opinion. That said, I get very annoyed when my non-American friends start talking trash, especially when they've never even been! So for what it's worth, I really enjoy your blog and think that if you need to be negative to process your feelings, it's your right! At least you are entertaining about it!

  3. L, Thanks for the advice and I will have to check out that magazine since, after tons of research, I still don't have any book ideas!

    M, Thanks for the support. It's nice to hear that someone can understand...and I can definitely thing of a ton of negative things about the US too, strangely enough a lot of which you have listed! And I'm glad to hear you enjoy my blog and even think it is sometimes entertaining!