Your movements are now accompanied by useless sounds like “tac!” and “oup-là!”
When you first heard your host mother absentmindedly throw around these phrases, they most likely elicited a smirk. How decidedly bizarre and French, you thought. Yet every time you place something down, you now have an intense urge to announce, “tac.” Congratulations—you have inadvertently turned into a 65-year old French woman…oup-là (oopsy-daisy!).
The fact that your childhood Stop N Shop isn’t a local marché leads to disproportionate outrage
It served you well for countless years, but now the thought of your town’s supermarket sounds atrocious. Where is the artisanal baker and the organic tomatoes, gleaming under the peaked roof of the marché? Having at least several cutesy outdoor markets per capita is not just a nicety—it’s a god-given right!
Hugs seem foreign, whereas the casual cheek-graze is a must.
The days when you found it strange to place your cheek against a stranger’s while making a light kissing sound—but with no actual lip-to-cheek contact—are gone. It feels natural now, whereas the American tradition of wrapping your arms around someone else and lingering for several seconds is just trop bizarre. On fait la bise!
A film with a happy ending just… seems a little off.
You no longer recognize Hollywood as a legitimate movie force. Films should have at least 50% of the cast deceased by the credits, four counts of adultery, and seven silent-but-brooding scenes, or else what’s the point???
When you order pastries in the US, cashiers can’t understand your accent
Although you pronounce pain au chocolat correctly, the woman at Le Pain Quotidien won’t budge. “Can you repeat that?” she’ll ask you for the umpteenth time. You’ll give up, exasperated, and yell “CHOCOLATE CRUH-SAHNT,” while dreaming of your favorite Parisian patîsserie. They would have understood.
You start wearing sneakers—with everything.
It started innocuously enough with a single pair of Adidas Stan Smiths. Months (or maybe years) later, your wardrobe has morphed into a haze of sneakers. What you used to see as “running shoes,” are now your only footwear. Wear them to class, wear them to the store, wear them clubbing—they’re truly multipurpose and will cause your American friends back home to cringe.
You Can Speak French for Minutes Without Really Saying Anything.
Your textbook French has officially been thrown out the window. After enough time in France, you learned the art of the filler word—félicitations! In French, you generously pepper all of your phrases with “ben, ouais,” “ehhhhh,” “alors,” and of course, “quoi.” Back in the states, you feel an acute need to incorporate these in conversations…in English…with Americans. It doesn’t go well.
Hershey’s Chocolate offends you.
Unless you’re a cool diplomat’s child who grew up on Swiss treats, Hershey’s used to be your go-to. Now the idea of consuming that overly-sugared, overly-processed stuff conjures a grimace rather than a smile. Get yourself to a Maison du Chocolat or Jeff de Bruges, ASAP.
It’s lunchtime, so you order a glass of red.
Long gone are the days when alcohol was an exclusively night-time activity. “After-work happy hour,” has been replaced by “It’s noon, everyone in France does it, and I deserve a little break.” You’re just paying homage to your time en France—your new boss will totally understand that.
You daydream about what Frenchman/woman you’re going to PACS for citizenship.
Doesn’t the idea of marriage seem so… antiquated? You can join the new age of PACS (Pacte civil de solidarité)(i.e. a civil union), and go back to France through the process. Every American has those moments, when you lock eyes with an attractive French man sipping an espresso, and think… he could be the answer to this pesky citizenship process. Immigration services can’t get you now!