Reflections on Crossing Cultures

This page contains a few posts from the category (see the Select Category button on the left side toolbar)  Crossing Cultures.  It’s got my frank views on everything from integration/assimilation to language learning to identity.  If you like what you read here check out the entire category.

(Just for info the most popular post I ever wrote in this category was A Day in the Life of An American Emigrant back in January 2012. I prefer A Hippy Childhood myself 🙂

Reflections on Crossing Cultures

What Software are You Running Today?  (February 24, 2016)  A trip to Molenbeek in Brussels, Belgium yields a new way of looking at language and culture.

Americans and Cross-Border Relationships in France and Japan (February 23, 2016) More experience leads to a few more thoughts about “mixed” marriages.

Fear, Shame, and the Expat Memoir (July 14, 2015)  Not my favorite genre and this is why.

Travel/Expat Books (May 30, 2014) I love Paul Fussell’s books. Yes, he is an arrogant SOB but he writes well and he is never more entertaining then when he is being condescending and cruel. If Americans are widely reported to be “nice”, Fussell takes great pride in being an exception.

Global Portable Identities (April 30, 2014) Identities that ground you wherever you go in the world.

The Trials of Learning and Maintaining a Second Language (March 10, 2014)  The Holy Grail of language learners everywhere. That magical moment when the ears hear, the brain engages with no effort, and perfect sentences spill forth from one’s mouth.

The Battle for Bi-Lingualism (February 26, 2014)  When I listen to people in France or the United States who are shocked that there are innocent children out there whose parents are foisting another language on them at home, thus destroying any chance that they will learn the official language of the country, I literally erupt in laughter.

The American/L’Américain (February 4, 2014) Here is the perspective that we lack when we read the autobiographies of Americans abroad – the perspective of the native citizen spouses, the ostensibly bi-lingual/bi-cultural children, the colleagues at work, and the other members of the community with which that American interacts.

Cancer and Culture (January 18, 2014) When someone is diagnosed with cancer (or any other life-threatening illness) he or she steps into a role that is defined by whatever culture he or she happens to be in. To be a human with cancer in France is not the same as being a human with cancer in, say, Canada. Same disease but different expectations, models and scripts.

Why France Can Be Hard on Les Américaines (January 7, 2014)  For every “American in Paris” book out there that says that integration was a breeze and claim they are now fluent in French, living in a fabulous apartment in Paris with their charming successful husbands and perfectly bi-lingual chères têtes blondes, there are many other untold stories of isolation, depression, problems learning the language, dealing with the extended French family or finding a decent paying job.

A Close Encounter with a French Evangelical (December 15, 2013) “You know who can help you, Madame? Jesus.” Took me a few seconds but I finally realized that I was standing in the presence of a French evangelical – a creature I had heard existed but thought was a myth or an over-reaction of the French to the idea of religious diversity.

Bi-Cultural Families:  the Culture Wars (June 6, 2013)  What happens when you are the “foreign” half of a couple and the children are being brought up in a country other than your own.

A Hippy Childhood (May 8, 2013)  What I remember about the American internal exiles I grew up among… (Olympia, Nanny Noodles, the Evergreen State College and the feminist and gay liberation movement)

My Two French Weddings (September 29, 2012) The very best part about getting married in France is the possibility of having two weddings. That means two ceremonies and two parties. Twice the fun and, let me tell you, the French sure know how to party.

Citizens and Their Foreign Spouses (April 23, 2012) There are special challenges when two people from two different countries decide to make a go of it. For one thing, there is a choice to be made: In which country do you plan to live?

Letting Go of the Language Wars (March 29, 2012) Learning another language isn’t easy but all too often, we are unreasonably harsh with ourselves. Almost all of my French friends have said to me, at one time or another, “Je suis nul en anglais.” A common topic around the table when I meet up with expats from all over the world is the shame and the frustration they feel at not being able to communicate fluently in the local language.

A Day in the Life of an American Emigrant (January 30, 2012) Some of the articles and comments I’ve been reading about overseas Americans leave me shaking my head in disbelief. Americans in the homeland seem to think that I spend my days plotting to escape taxes as I sip my wine in a plush Parisian bistro. I thought it might be instructive to open the “volets” (shutters) and give a glimpse of how one American emigrant in France spends her day.

Fairy Tales (December 17, 2011) Why I hate most books about living in France. Moving to France or any other country does not mean that the normal rules of life cease to apply. Things happen and they are not always good…

Casting Errors (July 19, 2011)  A few words about people I meet who I think are horribly out of sync with their culture of origin. These are not necessarily rebels – on the contrary many of them go to extraordinary lengths to try to fit, but they don’t. The people around them are singing in the key of C but everything in their hearts wants to sing in C#.

Love Where You’re From but Bloom Where You’re Planted (April 16, 2011)  Why I love Seattle and also why I most likely will never return “home.”

Cultural Scripts (July 29, 2011) How I have experienced the “shopping script” in France, Japan and the U.S.

Taxi Blues (July 10, 2011) An encounter with a French taxi driver in a very bad mood.

Alien (January 31, 2011) This is the question I ask myself: if I had stayed in the US and not moved to France in my early 20’s, would I be today, at 45, fundamentally the same person with the same character and personality? Are the changes that come with integration/assimilation so deep that whatever it is that makes me an individual is someone radically different from the hypothetical person I would have been if I stayed home?

Immigrant Rage (January 13, 2011) The dark side of integration/assimilation. “Immigrant Rage” is a state of high sensitivity where any innocuous statement can set you off because you feel fragmented and lost when all you really want is to feel “normal”.

Where I Sit (September 9, 2008)  The very first post I wrote for the Flophouse.