Eat, See, Do: Bonding in broken French
Being the new expat can be lonely at first, but making French friends is not as difficult as it first appears if you put yourself out there.
I recently posted about how making friends in a foreign country is pretty hard and at 30, your friend-making years feel like they're over. You have your friends all organised into groups – childhood, university, work – and that’s it, you’re out of friend chips.
While living in France, in an attempt to bypass the friend laws, we decided to go back to school. For a few hours of each day we study French so that eventually we stop sounding like French Borats. Besides the learning, we were also hoping we’d meet some people in the process to whom we didn’t feel totally linguistically inferior to. And in a few short days, we actually did.
As if by magic in the space of a week we had developed a veritable posse of foreigners speaking to each other in funny French; Mexican, Italian, Colombian, Equadorian, Italian, Polish, English and New-Zealandish. Granted sometimes we revert to English as everyone speaks it but more often than not our ‘shared’ language is French so that’s how we communicate.
Now, I also mentioned before that making friends just isn’t what it used to be. You don’t just rock up to people and chat to them like you did back in days gone by. Well, it appears, I was wrong.
On Friday night some of us decided to hit the esplanade for the weekly wine festival known as the Les Estivales. I was standing holding the wines when Jono came back from one of the food stands with a paella and a French guy he’d just picked up. After a bit of bonsoir-ing and salut-ing our posse expanded to include a French person teaching us some of the things they don’t teach us in school – if I shared them with you you’d never look at seafood the same way again.
Later on he took us to a bar with excellent rum cocktails pre-prepared in bottles (genius) and there we somehow also bumped into our Mexican-classmate friend with her group of friends. We danced away to a Latino/French/American mish-mash of music and enjoyed a great hangover-making evening.
I was initially, I’ve got to be honest, a little suspicious of our new friend. Who is this man? Why does he want to be our friend? Is he going to demand something? Is he hitting on us? (all of us, collectively). Turns out no, he was just being a friendly guy who wanted to hang out with friendly-looking people. Amazing.
Anyway, that was how we met our French friend and, after a day at the beach, ended up the following night at the restaurant recommended by him, Pizza Tavola. On the way there we bumped into someone else we knew from the party a few weeks ago and later that night we bumped into the boyfriend of our lovely Mexican friend. Hopefully you’re getting the picture now that Montpellier is really quite small.
After dinner there was talk of clubbing that would start at midnight and end sometime in the future. It was at this point that we reminded ourselves that even though we were back at school, we would quite like to head home for a nice cup of tea, have a good rest and use the following day fruitfully.
Still, we’re starting to see a new side to Montpellier and a new side to our expat life in France. We are getting to know this strange little city on a whole new level – by bonding with new people we’re also bonding a little bit more with our new home.
Anna Krahn left her job in the city of London at the beginning of 2013 to begin travelling and living life as an expat with her New Zealander fiancé. They are currently living and planning a wedding in the South of France. Anna writes about living an expat life, learning languages and travel on her blog Eat,See,Do. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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