For those who don’t know, my family and I visited France for long periods of time (a couple of weeks or months) up until I was about 5, at which point we moved definitively. I’ve only visited England twice since, and I’ve been living here for nearly eleven years.
Sometimes I ask myself “If I’d have stayed in England, would I be a different person? What would have changed?”
There a two main differences between my home in France and what was my home in England:
- Town VS Countryside
I used to live in a town called Burntwood (I don’t mind saying the name because I don’t even live there anymore). Being in a town means that, of course, there are cars and people that go by your house every single day, and you can’t avoid real life social interaction.
Now, however, I live in the middle of nowhere where there are a total of about four houses in a kilometre radius, and I can easily go for an entire summer holiday (here they last about 2 months) without seeing anyone except my parents and my brother. This has enforced my introvertedness and awkwardness in the face of people xD
I think that if I’d have stayed in a more populated area, I would have grown up with people so I would be used to being around others. I would have an actual social life (shocking, I know) and if a stranger were to come up to me and ask for directions, I’d be able to answer calmly and normally.
But seen as I grew up in the middle of the countryside, the only people I saw other than my family being at school, I now freeze up whenever someone I haven’t spoken to at least three times before talks to me. I even get nervous in front of some people in my class, and I’ve known them for nearly six months now.
But living in the countryside isn’t the only reason for which I’m extremely quiet and externally emotionless. This is an appropriate segway to the second difference between England and France, and this one is the primary one:
- The language barrier
Now it’s probably obvious by now that I am fully bilingual and can understand French as easily as I can English, but not necessarily speak it.
Don’t get me wrong, grammatically and vocabulary-wise my level of French is pretty much on par with my level of English. I mean, it would have to be, otherwise I’d be pretty much screwed xD
When I say that I can’t speak French like I can English, what I mean is that I can’t express myself like I can in English. Either I can’t find the right words or it just sounds wrong. This has lead to occasional arguments with French friends who get offended when I don’t share secrets with them but I do with English friends. And of course, when I try to explain to them that it’s just easier for me to say things like that in English and it’s not at all because I don’t trust them, that comes out wrong as well.
I’ve noticed recently that I tend to stutter a lot and mispronounce things as well (such as saying “oo” instead of “u” and vice-versa), which makes me even more uncomfortable and awkward and has also added to my dislike towards talking out loud in front of people.
I feel like if I’d have stayed in England, I wouldn’t have these problems because everyone around me would speak the same language. This would, again, allow me to have an actual social life instead of shying away from things like that.
Yes, I think that living in France has affected me as a person. If I had stayed in England, I would be a lot bolder and have more confidence in myself. This makes it sound like moving to France was a bad thing xD
Moving to France, I think, wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it limited my public speaking ability by a huge amount, but I was also able to discover a new country and learn a new language fluently, which is a huge plus for later in life. A few sacrifices just had to be made along the way, including the one where I have only seen certain members of my family twice in eleven years because they’re unable of coming to me, so I have to go to them.
Thank you for reading this until the end ❤️