The Third Language

English is the default language a European quickly resorts to when speaking with someone who doesn’t share his or her first language. Living in Europe and working in ESL, this has enabled me to become fluent in my “third language.” The third language is what I call the version of someone’s first language that is simplified for use with less-advanced, non-native speakers. It’s…

meridian greenwich

Revehse Cultcha Shock

As soon as I landed at Logan Airport, everything felt different: the dominant notes of the ambient noise, the fonts and colors on the signs, the way the crowds moved, the smell of the food. It’s only been about seven months since I was last in the United States, but have not lived there for a few years…

The 10 Worst Things About Living in France

Sometimes, when you’re not ready to say good-bye to a place, it can help to dredge up all the things you don’t like about living there. As I start having my French “lasts”– last tartelette aux pommes, last drink with a dear friend, last visit to my favorite part of the park, last, last, last, I’ve also started…

chablis

The 10 Best Things About Living in France

I’m leaving France at the end of this month after almost three years living and working here. My work contract is up and I’m ready for something new, but I can’t help feeling melancholy about leaving. Getting ready to say “au revoir” has me reflecting on what I’ll dearly miss about France…and what I really, really won’t.…

bilingualism

Parlez-you Franglais?

One of the coolest things about living abroad in a country where they don’t speak your native language is what starts to happen to your brain. It used to feel like I might never lose the intermediary mental translation, that time-consuming stopover to convert all French input into English and English output into French. But…

borrowed language

I’ll have a breu-nee, please.

One of the funniest things I do on an almost daily basis is pronounce English words with a French accent so that French people will understand me. This most often happens with food: I’m currently sitting in a café waiting for the Ee-reesh Crem (“Irish Cream,”  on the menu) Latté that I clumsily attempted to order with…

arrested development gob

The Customer is Always…

This is a crash course in customer service philosophy across cultures. Business 101 in America: the objective is to get your customers to spend money, period. Sometimes this objective is pursued at the cost of employees’ dignity, happiness, and integrity, but, for good or ill, every American knows the mantra, “the customer is always right.” This…

titian

Not My First OFII Rodeo

I’ve received new visas for each of the periods I’ve worked in France, so I’ve been to OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) for the “visite médicale” four separate times. I’m a pro at this point and, to OFII’s credit, the process now looks like a well-oiled machine when compared to my other…