Recently, a colleague asked me what I missed most from the US after two and a half years of living in France. The first answer that popped into my head was, "Gee, I don't really know."
I guess the first answer probably should have been, "My family and friends," but I've lived away from my family for so long and have remained in contact with my friends, so I've grown accustomed to being the one who lives away.
For a brief moment I thought about answering, "Food," but I didn't think it would be possible to debate the merits of Velveeta in a country known for more than 400 types of cheese. Besides, I've managed to create a NEW pasta and tuna dish that does not start by opening a box of macaroni and cheese.
Do I miss music? I know I like to listen to country music, but the last few times I've tuned in to an Internet broadcast, it sounds a bit too Jesus-y and patriotic for my liking. I prefer a twangy tune about unrequited love and/or driving on a lonely highway, preferrably if drinking is involved with either (or both). And, I'm starting to like French Top 40 music, especially when I figure out what the heck they're singing about.
Shopping? I have to admit it's an ego boost to walk into The Gap and coolly slide into a large shirt, when in France I have to meekly admit that I'm a double extra large. (Note to self - cut back on those pasta and tuna dinners.)
So, what about television? Hmm, well, it is nice to come home from work and switch on the idiot box and decompress. Here, I have to really concentrate when I watch "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" or "France's Funniest Home Videos" (which is really America's Funniest Home Videos - with American videos, two presenters and Bob Saget-esque voice-overs in French).
What's worse is all TV shows, regardless of country of origin, are shown in French. So, CSI and CSI:Miami become Les Experts and Les Experts:Miami, starring American actors with dubbed French voices. "Well, you are in France," I hear you all saying. True, but in the Netherlands they subtitle the shows that are not in Dutch, and in Israel pretty much everything is subtitled in combinations of Hebrew, Arabic and Russian - strangely including shows that are broadcast in Hebrew.
It's not all that bad, though. There's one show I like: "C'est du propre" ("That's clean") where two "elegant" ladies show up at some slob's residence - house, apartment, barn - and turn abject squalor into floors, walls, countertops all worthy of eating off! It helps me put my "bachelor pad" into perspective, although I am sometimes tempted to write in and nominate myself.
You might think that the lack of anything good on TV would motivate me to do loftier things like take up a sport, take up a hobby, or take up a broom and mop for goodness sake! Personally, I prefer to take a nap