The Buoy Blog: How long have you lived in the US?
Florence: I‘ve lived here for nine years. At first, we were supposed to stay here for three years, but we have decided to stay.
TBB: What brought you here?
F: My husband got a proposal from his company to work in New Jersey. It was an interesting offer and we thought that it would be a nice experience for our kids and us.
TBB: What were you expecting before coming to the US?
F: I wanted to change my life that was only about running between my job, schools, kids’ activities, and day care. I was exhausted and I needed a break. I wanted also to visit the USA and try the experience of a new life in a new country.
TBB: Were your expectations reached or disappointed?
F: Reached! Besides, we decided to stay here. The rhythm is different for me, calmer.
TBB: Was adapting to a new country easy or difficult?
F: I was worried because of the new language and the school for the children. When we first arrived, they didn’t speak a word of English. We had to adapt. Fortunately, the schools were very welcoming. My kids got an ELS class and they became bilingual quickly.
TBB: What was the most difficult situation to handle?
F: I didn’t speak English good enough –I learn English in school and I didn’t get enough knowledge to have a full conversation,– and it was very frustrating. I could meet very nice people and I couldn’t talk to them.
TBB: How did you get out of it?
F: For a time, I was isolated, but I took classes with the literacy volunteer that helps people with difficulties in English, mostly immigrants like me. Today, it is not a problem anymore, even if I kept my strong French accent!
What was your best moment here?
F: They were numerous! Mostly, they are with the people I met, and the place I have been. I love New York to name just one.
TBB: What are the things you love most about America?
F: I love to live at one hour from New York City and have bears and deer in my backyard. That’s amazing!
Here, there is a deep attachment to the freedom of speech, even if sometimes it goes to an extreme point almost unbearable.
Kids learn to debate in class. For example, they have to defend a topic they don’t like or from an opposite point of view of theirs. They learn to see two aspects of a subject and to respect the opinion of the others.
LBB: What are those you do not like?
F: Guns. I do not understand the need of heavy weapons in someone’s home. When my kids go to visit a friend, I don’t know if there is a gun in this house. I had to lecture them about it.
TBB: What are you missing from France?
F: “Its little villages with bell towers and quite houses!”1
TBB: If you had to go back to France, what would you take with you from the US?
F: It’s hard to pick. For now, I have no desire to go back.
TBB : What advice would you give to a French person who would like to come live in the US?
F: Be curious and without prejudice.
1: From the song “Douce France” written by the French Singer Charles Trenet.