Expat gets the cold shoulder from French natives

Published 8:54 am Monday, September 19, 2022

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DEAR ABBY: I went to college in France. It was my lifelong dream to move here and start my own life in this beautiful country. I succeeded. I married and had a child, but the marriage didn’t work out. My son, who is now 8, has spent his whole life here. He fits in. He is popular. However, as a single working mother in a foreign land, I do not.
I have mastered the French language. I can have an intellectual conversation in French, and I even make jokes in French. I understand it’s a different culture. I have had many different roles as a bilingual assistant in various sectors, such as real estate, digital transformation, architecture and interior design.
I count myself blessed to always be able to find work, but the women here just don’t like me. I am blond and wear makeup, and my presence seems to threaten and anger them no matter where I go. There are always one or two nice colleagues, but there is also a mass vibe of hostility. I can’t leave because I can’t take my son away from his father. Advice? — LEFT OUT IN PARIS

DEAR LEFT OUT: Please allow me to offer my sympathy. What you are experiencing is hurtful. But it happens everywhere, not just in Paris.
You wrote that wherever you are working, there are always one or two nice colleagues. Concentrate on them and the work you are assigned to do and, although it may not be easy, ignore the rudeness of the others. You are not there to socialize. Because you feel iced out socially, try to connect with other expatriates who are probably feeling the way you do. It’s more productive than licking your wounds alone.
At some point, your son will be old enough to be on his own, and you may be able to relocate to a part of France (or Europe) where the people are warm and welcoming. Keep your contacts close back home, because you may be able to relocate to the States if you wish. In the meantime, stay occupied. If you do, it will give you less time to be depressed.
DEAR ABBY: When attending a wedding, do you think it’s rude for the guests to post photos of the bride and groom on social media announcing the new couple before the couple have a chance to post? It would be like someone else announcing the birth of your baby. I think the couple should be the first to post any photos of themselves and announce their marriage. What do you think? — PROPER IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR PROPER: I think you’re correct. However, so many people post about the activities in which they participate, it isn’t surprising that guests would enthusiastically share their joy by putting these pictures online. If the bride and groom want to keep it from happening, they should specify that they want no photos taken during the wedding or the reception (and then cross their fingers). Guests who plan to take pictures should be sure to ask the couple before posting them.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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