BECOMING A BLAXPAT

Someone wrote me a while ago, asking what my thought process was involving my decision to move to France.

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As an answer, I have decided to re-blog an interview I gave to Black Expat Magazine a while ago:

Delorys was born, raised, educated and married to her husband of now 38 years in New York City. She has lived in several US cities (New York City, Westport, Connecticut, Saint Louis, Missouri, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Princeton, New Jersey) and in France. Delorys and her husband have been living in the South of France for over a decade after having spent 17 years dividing her time between France and the United States with the intention of eventually moving abroad.

 

 

What do you remember of your first trip abroad?

My first trip abroad was the summer before my junior year in college. I travelled in France, Switzerland, Germany and England. Back then (and I’m not going to be specific about the date) airline tickets for student travellers was dirt cheap…so were the Eurail passes. I had a blast! I met other students from all over Europe. People invited me to their homes, so I was able to see a lot of life in other countries. I was surprised also, how things in Western cultures could look so similar on the surface but be so dramatically different when you “walked through the door”… so to speak. But I had a wonderful time and in the meantime fell in love with France.

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At what point did you become aware that you wanted to live abroad and be an Expat? First let me say that I am not comfortable with the “Expat”. I just don’t like the prefix.  Nevertheless I do use the word I coined, “Blaxpat”, to describe my current lifestyle.  Anyway, realizing through subsequent travel that there was a huge, friendly world out there, and that as an American, coming from a country with so many allies, I had the privilege to be able to travel almost anywhere in the world and be welcomed. As a black American, I enjoyed the feeling of being identified culturally and nationally as an American as well as being Black. When I discovered, life in The South of France, I knew that I wanted to find a way of living here one day. I never really thought of living in a foreign country until my first visit to Nice, France, in my thirties.

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What experience has enlightened you the most since you moved abroad?

That learning a new language fluently, not only enhances your ability to communicate more precisely in your native language, but in others as well… as you learn them… through travel and social interaction. I am fluent in French. I cannot imagine living in a country without speaking the language. I would have to find a way to learn the language somehow if I already didn’t know it. Most countries in the West at least, have some form of literacy program.

 A DAY OF 'CUL CHA' IN THE CITY OF NICE

 … And the most disheartening experience so far?

The demise of the American dollar!

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 Have you adopted any new customs whilst living in France?

You know, I honestly can’t tell anymore. Celebrating Bastille Day, perhaps?

 

We know that you moved to France with your husband, did you have any children that came with you and if so how have they adapted to the expat life?

We don’t have children. But I’ve realized that if I had children, I doubt that I would want to raise them outside of the US, unless my husband was a citizen of the country where we lived. I would have no problem having them attend school abroad, after a certain age, but I feel that It is always easier to adjust to other cultures when you are firmly grounded in who you are. Family connections are important. Also as a black American, I feel it would be important for them to understand the unique history of our particular tribe of people in the US, and how it is juxtaposed with the rest of the world.

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Do you miss any customs from home?

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I certainly don’t miss Thanksgiving, especially as a black American with Native American heritage. Otherwise, things aren’t all that different here in France. But then, it probably seems that way to me because in addition to having been raised in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural environment, I have always lived in Cosmopolitan communities whether it be Connecticut, Missouri or the other places we’ve lived.

How have you gone about making friends?

My social connections come through my work in the arts, as I am both a painter and author.

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Have you (continued…)

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DRIVING IN THE DARK

This is a reprint of a Blog I wrote last year at the beginning of the tourist season here in the South:

J’en ai marre !!!!!

The tourist season has officially begun here on the French Riviera. What always arrives with the hordes is the inevitable and harsh criticism of French driving habits.

I’d like to intercept a bit with this blog before the Anglophones really start getting flagrant down here!

Everyone knows that anyone’s life can be irrevocably destroyed by an intoxicated or mentally disturbed driver on the road in any country by a driver of any nationality. My question is why have the French, in particular, been given such a bad rap as drivers?

I have been recipient many times of French driving hospitality. What I have found is that my French friends and acquaintances have displayed skill and grace at ever turn…so to speak. It’s no wonder, I later learned, considering what they have to go though in order to earn the privilege to drive in their country.

How may of you who have criticized the French actually studied for the French Permis de Conduire?

Drivers License

Too scared, right?

And I’m willing to bet…too broke!

Then, that means you don’t know bupkis about anything French.

Want to know how I came to this conclusion? Because it is expensive, difficult and studying for it would actually result in an evolution of thinking that would cause you to realise that you had no prior knowledge of what it takes to understand of the Gallic approach to manoeuvring safely through life in France. My philosophy is in order to criticize the French you should have been educated in France and taught by the French. How else can one understand the cultural nuances of a country which has the power to seduce millions of people through its doors, whether they be rich or poor, yellow green or blue, to a place which is probably the most complicated in all of Europe? Even people from rich and powerful countries are willing to test their fate in a country which for years will render them functional illiterates!

Years ago I took the driving school plunge…so I know of what I write.

I can’t overstate the fact that the pursuit of the French Permis de Conduire is an expensive, lengthy but profoundly informative study of the psychology of the French population. Believe me, studying this will enhance one’s relationships with the French people you encounter, do business with or with whom one becomes intimately involved. It will even enable one to distinguish a foreign driver from a French one.

Imagine that!

Case in point:

One sunny afternoon, a fellow student, who is also an American, and I left another gruelling session of La Code de la Route to stop at a corner café. As we approached the curb, a car came screeching towards us in a completely misguided attempt to park in a no parking zone.

Mr. America, hisses, ., “Look at that. After they get their permits, all rules fly out the window. How typically French!

My response was, “What makes you think the driver is French?”

He pointed to the French License plate on the Italian Fiat, and said, “Look… 06 (the code for the Alpes Maritimes)!”

As if on cue, two men emerge from the car, sharing a typically boisterous conversation in Italian!

Typically French, right?

So, this is the advice from yours truly…the Expat Curmudgeon Writer on the Côte d’Azur…to American drivers in France. Stop criticizing…stay alert and either take your bigotry and pack it in your little back packs and go back home… or just get off the road and take the friggin’n bus!

 

feel free to visit: thenovelladyfingers.wordpress.com

VISITING PORTE DE L’ARENAS IN NICE (reposted)

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We had yet to visit La Muséee Asiatique de Nice, so since the weather was a little ‘iffy’ today, this seemed like the perfect time for museum stuff.

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The museum is located in Nice’s Industrial Park, across from the Airport called, Porte de L’Arenas.  The Industrial Park contains a complex of buildings which houses over 200 business enterprises.  Remember the movie, Logan’s Run?  The whole area gives off that kind of surrealistically futuristic vibe, not unlike the Industrial Park in Monaco’s city of Fontvieiile.

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PHOENIX PARK

Designed as a meeting place between man and nature, The Phoenix Park is located at the entrance of Nice at the airport.  It extends over 7 hectares.  There are over 2500 species of plants preserved in a Meditterranean settimg and consisting of twenty theme gardens with sound.

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LA MUSEE ASIATIQUE

 

Tha Asian Arts Museum is build on a lake in Phoenix Park, was commisonned by the General Council of the Alpes Maritimes and designed by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange.  The intent of this project is the harmonious mix of Asian Arts and Western Culture.

Come…take a look:
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Beautiful, n’est-ce-pas?

 photos by Delorys Welch Tyson

A bientôt!!!