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1. As a new repatriate, having recently moved back to the US after living in France for over 4 years (and Europe for longer), how did you find the transition? Any nasty surprises?
The transition has been relatively smooth so far, more than I expected. Sometimes it feels like I never left and the ten years in Europe never happened. But I think that's because I've moved back to my hometown, where I graduated high school, so sometimes I will be at a traffic light, and a song will come on the radio, and it feels like it's fifteen years ago or something. It's a surreal feeling. I've changed, but everything around me is more or less the same.
2. Why did you decide to make the trip back?
It was just time. I think that for a lot of expats, 'time' to move home is always looming in the future, and one day, we all wake up and it's there, greeting us. For me, it was right about the ten years overseas mark.
3. Do you know where you would like to settle? If so, what are the reasons behind your choice?
We are planning on settling in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts as soon as my husband's green card is finalized. We've chosen the area because it's not far from where I grew up in New York, and it's where my father's family is from. It's a lovely area that has quirks and charms and reminds me a bit of the little village in Provence where I lived.
4. Any culture shocks (big or small) that were unexpected on your return to the US?
YES! I am still having a hard time with the amount of choices... so many types of cereal, macaroni & cheeses and salsas... the different types are practically endless! Also, I'm still loving (and am very appreciative of) how nice and helpful everyone is here.
5. If you could do the move again, would you change anything?
Not for the moment, no, but ask me in another six months or so.
6. What advice would you give other Expats looking to return to their place of origin?
The same advice I would give expats setting out for the first time; plan ahead. Moving is a lot less stressful when everything has been carefully planned out in advance and nothing is left until the last minute. Cover your bases!
7. Your (French) husband has recently joined you, how do you think he will settle in?
For the moment he's doing fine. He's homesick of course, missing his friends and the boulangerie, but overall he's quite happy here. And he finds it funny when women at the hairdressers, gym, bank or grocery store, ask him to 'speak French to them'.
8. Did you miss anything about the US that you only realized you missed once you were back in the US?
No, I was always aware of the things that I missed; good customer service, Tex-Mex, the convenience of drive-thru banking, I could go on and on...
9. What is the strangest thing you have seen in the US since your return? (For comparison, what was the strangest thing you ever saw in France?)
That's a tough one... I guess I could say super huge trucks with monster-sized tires (I am currently in Texas after all) or maybe the sheer number of food commercials on television (it's so hard not to eat 24/7 here), I'm not too sure, but for France, it's definitely man-bags. I'll never get used to men carrying purses.
10. What is the best thing(s) about being back in the US?
How easy everything is!
11. If you could bring anything from France to the US, what would it be?
Because these three things kind of go together, I'm going to treat them like one; good baguettes, good cheese, and good and inexpensive wine.
12. How has your day-to-day life changed? For the better and for the worse?
Since I'm in a transition period right now and not settled, it's kind of hard to answer that one.
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