Expat Voices: Nicky Bona on living in France
Nicky Bona finds France less materialistic than the UK but misses a damn good spicy curry!
Name: Nicky Bona
City of residence: Nantes
Date of birth: 03/10/1967
Civil status: Separated
Occupation: English Trainer
Reason for moving to France: to follow husband’s job (plus lifetime goal)
Lived in France for: 8 years
What was your first impression of France?
A proud country that holds on to its values (family, culture, food).
What do you think of the food?
Amazing! Apart from France’s worldwide reputation, it’s also wonderful to see each region, department, town, holding on to its specialty dishes, giving such diversity in French cuisine, however this is a double-edged sword because it also limits the French in their creativity and openness to other world cuisines. The French are so proud of their cooking they see no reason to change, adapt or taste something from another culture.
What do you think of the shopping in France?
So wonderful to have so many original, and specialized small shops, rather than endless chain stores like in the UK. Also, the shop workers really know their products and their business.
What do you appreciate about living in France?
The respect everyone has for each other, apèrodinatoires (aperitif/dinner)(!), the regional diversity - housing styles, countryside and cooking. Also the variety of festivals, from local fairs, up to big music events, cultural events. There’s ALWAYS something happening here.
What do you find most frustrating about living in France?
Not being able to talk to strangers without being looked at as if I’ve got two heads!! The French are very wary of anything new or unknown. Pigeon-holing.
What puzzles you about France and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
I miss the easy chat we have in England (so easy to chat about nothing even to the cashier in Tesco’s), and a damn good spicy curry! I miss the English sense of humour too, no one gets it here!
How does the quality of life in France compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
I’ve only lived in England and France, so comparing to England, the UK is too materialistic, and narrow in many ways (but the French can be, too), and there is no respect back home between generations and each other. Values have gone.
If you could change anything about France, what would it be?
For them to be more open-minded, more cross thinking and less pigeon-holing everything and everyone – which all starts in school.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
To respect France and its ways, and not to live like an Englishman, when in Rome….
Try and cook French cuisine for example, to understand its culture, but of course try and give the French some of your own culture too! An exchange of worlds.
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