Friday, February 24, 2006

First day in "the land of the crazy people"..by Thomas


I will let kim talk about all the blabla about us, I wouldn't be good at it. But since I have to write things in here, I guess I will discuss about situations the way I lived them. I read a lot about Americans in France, and thought it would be interesting to somehow reply here. North America through the eyes of a Frenchman.

I will remember my first day in the USA my whole life. It was around christmas 2004. Kim picked me up in canada, and we were talking about everything and nothing...till I saw it! The sign saying "Bridge to USA". Do you remember the first time you took an important exam or interview, I was probably more nervous at that time. Thoughts and questions were spinning in my head. "Oh my God! I am going to USA. What if they arrest me? What if I say something wrong and they shoot me? Why am I going here again?". Before I continue on my story, I think I need to explain few things that would actually explain why I was asking myself all these questions.

There are lots of stereotypes about the French in USA, and eventhough I never fully understood where some came from, every little americans have heard about them. I should say that we do have some stereotypes about americans too. I will not talk here about the fat american with a ketchup stained shirt, a hamburger in one hand and a chubby kid with mickey mouse ears in the other. I want to focus about one idea that is very popular in France... USA HATES FRANCE. I often hear Americans saying French are not grateful for being freed and so on. But here is an interesting point. From both points of view, we will all agree that America played a decisive role in liberation of France. Yet, that is probably where the misunderstanding starts. During my education, here is what I learned! After D-Day, Eisenhower talked to the french radio saying that France was now under American control and therefore should obey any laws promulgated by the American High Command...Wait a second, does that mean that German occupation now becomes an American occupation? De Gaulle stepped in and made clear that France had to be under french command. American troops stayed till 1966, when they finally got kicked out. After that, it would be too long to list all the disputes as the US government never forgave us, and made sure that the American people would think alike. In the end, there is no real anti-americanism in France. Just a defensive reaction conditioned by what we learn in school or what we hear in the media. "America hates us, and wants to decide what we eat, what we should do, how we should do it and so on"

So here I am, very close to the american border, remembering all these stories about this french arrested at the border because his name sounded muslim, these french journalists handcuffed because they were missing a paper in their visa, or even this french lady killed in florida by a lifeguard truck... Gosh, I am so lucky, that I really wonder what will happen to me. At that point of the story, I am not sure I still have nails.

When we arrive, the border officer looks very... like in movies...ready to shoot at me. He asks for the passport and paper, looks at me...Damn he just asked us to park over there and go inside of the building...After awhile, they took my photo and my fingerprints and YAY, I am free to go...er I mean clear to go.

So here we are finally driving in the land of the crazy people. I would love to tell you that at that point I was feeling great, but I was still nervous. Kim probably noticed it as she kept asking me how I was. "Come on, I am in the land of the crazy people, where everyone has a gun and shoots at eachother". She laughed, and explained to me that not everyone had a gun and as a matter of fact she knew only one person who had a gun. Well BELIEVE IT OR NOT!!! While she was making that speech, we saw two guys walking along the road...with guns on their shoulders.

GULP..can you see on my face I am french?

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4 Comments:

At February 25, 2006, Blogger Deb said...

Very scary your first time isn't it? My husband was practically the same way.

Remember what they say, "don't always believe everything you see in the movies". ;o)

 
At February 25, 2006, Blogger MadameK said...

HA! My French husband feels the same way when he visitsthe US. But after many years and many uneventful visits, his original fear has faded into a sort of morbid curiosity. He can't wait for the day he stumbles upon a crimes scene, a la "Law & Order", so he will have a "crazy American" story of his own.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

I feel the same and I'm originally from the states, so don't feel bad! But I felt the same way as you when I first visited the Czech republic because of all of the stories I had heard before going. It was scary for the first day or so but then after that, I was feeling much better.

 
At March 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great site »

 

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