I’ll Probably Delete This Later
Its 3am and I just had to come on here and write this. Honestly I don’t know where to begin. Things have been hard lately.
I feel like everybody knows me as the walking cliché foreign girl in Paris who comes to the city after uprooting her whole life abroad to fall in love with cheese and baguettes and everything else associated with the most grotesque french stereotypes you can imagine. On instagram and often over here on our blog I’m posting constantly about how much I love Paris and on a very superficial level, my love for the city is real. I love the city as a city. No matter where you go here you’re always surrounded by beautiful things, chic restaurants, boutiques and cafés and every street is brimming with so much history that it would be impossible to know every single detail about it. But the truth about Paris is that trying to make it here as a foreigner is often misery.
Now I don’t want anybody to think that I’m ungrateful for having the opportunity to live here because that’s not what I’m trying to say in this post at all. What I want to talk about here is how Paris is not a kind city to people who don’t come from France and sometimes it can really bring you down.
Sometimes it feels like everyday in Paris is a battle where I have to defend myself. If people here listen to my accent then they are inclined to speak to me in english right away, completely overlooking the fact that I can and am here to talk to them in their language. Learning french is extremely difficult in Paris for this reason alone. I always feel like I have to defend my right to speak french either because I’ll get talked down to in english by somebody sneering at my accent or because I won’t be taken seriously because people immediately hear that I’m foreign and assume that I’m a tourist even though I’ve been living here for two years.
This entire question of having a foreign accent is actually really having a big impact on my life. Any time I’ve applied for a job or an internship in something that I’m qualified to do I get rejected because the companies want native french speakers only …so in other words they don’t want to hire any foreigners. I’ve been looking for jobs through french all summer and the response is always the same. Native french only. It makes me wonder why I ever even bothered learning the language to begin with.
In life we’re all a victim of where we come from. This is something I wish more people would realise. It’s easy to make assumptions about people based on the way they talk or how they look but there are some things that we just can’t help. Having an accent is one of them. No matter how hard I try I’ll never speak english like somebody from the UK or the United States and I’ll especially never speak french like somebody who was born and raised here their entire life.
I’ll always talk like Amanda from Ireland and that’s ok. I just wish people in France would realise this because I could never imagine us as english speakers discriminating against people who came from countries like France, Spain, Italy, etc because of the way they talk. These expectations are ridiculous and we should just accept people for who they are and where they come from. I have so many experiences of anti-foreigner bias and I’m white af so I can’t even imagine what it must be like for anybody who is judged unfairly for their racial differences. If these things happen to me then there must be an even bigger problem for foreigners in Paris and it’s far from ok.
There are so many things about Paris that make it an uphill battle. Anyone who has ever had to deal with french administration will know what I’m talking about but that aside, sometimes parisians are just plain mean. These are the experiences I’ve had lately:
1.) Being denied a position at a beauty company because the employer saw on my CV that I was Irish. (He didn’t even call me or hear my voice. He just basically said “pas d’accent anglais” without even talking to me.)
2.) Answering the phone to my brother in a café and an old lady yelling at me in french for talking on the terrace. I ignore her and continue talking and she yells even louder so I just leave.
3.) Being called a basic tourist by a group of girls who thought I couldn’t understand them when I was taking a picture at the train station.
I really want to stress that not everybody is like this and most of my closest friends in the world are parisian but after a while all of the negative encounters start to become exhausting. Even though they sound silly and I know I should just brush it off I can’t help but feel that Paris is bringing me down. The people aren’t always nice if you’re foreign and often it can feel like the whole city is mocking you.
This is why I don’t think my future is going to be in France.
And aside from the inferiority complex I have for being foreign there’s also this absence of identity that really brings me down and makes me feel like I’m such a nobody in France. No one acknowledges my identity as Irish. Here it seems as if Ireland, the USA and the countries of the UK are mashed all together into the word “anglais” and it really feels so empty to be stripped of my cultural identity and to be labeled as “une anglaise”. My upbringing in Ireland was all about céilís, GAA and speaking as Gaeilge and I know we often laugh in Ireland about that kind of stuff but it is who we are and what makes us unique as a people. Given our history too, our whole culture revolves around NOT being english and being independent from the UK.
Since living in France I don’t have that anymore and it often makes me sad that nobody understands who I really am because they have no idea about where I really come from. I’m not going to lie when I say that it does make me feel really lost.
Aside from the cultural problems I have in Paris, a massive problem is also the men. There are so many sleazy guys around and being harassed on the streets and called after like a dog is unfortunately fairly normal here. I never had this problem when I was still living in Dublin but here it’s not surprising if there’s a weird old man following you in the metro, if the waiter at the café you pass on your way to work everyday wolf-whistles at you as he smokes his cigarette by the terrace, if random guys shout something degrading at you in the streets it’s normal and being followed into the bathroom by strange men in bars is not an unfamiliar occurence. There have been times in Paris where I’ve actually feared for my life because of how persistant the men have been and what’s worse is that the police don’t seem to care when these things are reported so they keep getting away with it.
I love Paris for what it is on the surface but beyond that I actually have so many problems with it and there are days where I just don’t feel like going on anymore. My blog and youtube help to distract me from it all because at least then I can focus on the positives about the city but I can’t deny that the negatives do really get to me.
That said though I do have amazing friends here that I love a lot and who have helped me since the beginning. The problem I have is that in Dublin there’s not a whole lot left for me at all. I feel like since I left everybody moved on in life and I don’t have many friends anymore. All of my friends are here with me in Paris and moving away would mean starting out fresh again.
It’s sometimes tough being an expat because a certain point your home stops feeling like home to you and you’ll always be an outsider in your new country. This is something I haven’t yet been able to come to terms with and I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully accept it.
Anyway if you made it this far in the post I should thank you for reading. I’m sorry it wasn’t the regular fun thing about fashion and beauty in Paris but I just wanted to share where I am in my thoughts right now. I’ll probably delete this post at some point because I know it feels quite negative.
I’m sorry there’s so many typos in this post. I wrote it late at night and when I needed something to calm me in my moment of distress. The next post will be a lot more eloquent and positive, I promise.