Kerri Mackenzie

Kerri is in France with British Council. She is linked with Mount Florida Primary School in Glasgow.

Je suis Française

One of the first things they warn you about before you go on your year abroad is the culture shock that you will experience; you can't get square sausage or Irn Bru in France and you'll miss home and the familiar accent and all the things that you love about Scotland. For the most part this is true. I spend a small fortune on Irn Bru in the English grocery shop in Paris, I fear that if I were to stop drinking Irn Bru I'd not survive such is the nature of my addiction. Whenever I hear the slightest hint of a Scottish accent I find myself making excuses to talk to strangers just so I can hear a little "sound of home". But, for the most part, I feel like I have truly integrated into French life. As you all know I have spent a lot of time this year travelling around France. I have sipped pastis (a horrible aniseed drink, tried it once never again) in the sunshine in Marseille, I have eaten saurkraut at the Christmas market in Strasbourg, sipped Champagne in Reims, tucked in to foie gras and cassoulet and snails and all the French delicacies and I feel like I have truly gotten to know what France is. And I love it. With every day that I spend here I feel like I am becoming more French. When the constant strikes used to annoy me I now find myself accepting it as part of life and going along to protests in support. The idea of putting butter on a croissant makes me shudder in fear - it is already 90% butter, why do the Brittish insist on adding more? Wine is for sipping nicely with a meal or with snack alongside the river not for gulping down without appreciating the taste. What will affect me much more than culture shock is, in fact, reverse culture shock. How will I survive the Scottish rain and cold and lack of sunshine or how will I live without macarons and baguettes and proper éclairs au chocolat? Most of all I will miss being able to speak French every day and to know that I am constantly improving my language skills. There are quite a few things I will be taking back home with me, a few set phrases. One I have found particularly useful is "J'arrive". This technically means "I am arriving" but can really mean I will arrive in anytime between 5 minutes and half an hour, particularly useful when navigating the Paris metro as who knows how long that will take? 

Recently I was invited by some teachers to play pétanque. Pétanque is the national sport of France and in my opinion it is one of the most French things ever. I was delighted to be invited to play and I found out that I'm rather good at it. It was that evening, with the sun splitting the treas and the joyful shouting of French and jokes and slight competitiveness that comes with playing a sport that I realised that in this moment I feel more French than Scottish. My allegiance has shifted. I know all the words to Flower of Scotland, of course but I now stand proudly and sing La Marseillaise word-perfect before a rugby/football game along with all the "real" French people. 

Before coming to France I always imagined that no matter how well I settled in that I would always feel somewhat like an outsider, like I was just visiting. But in less than a year I have come to find that France is my home. I have integrated into life here and now the thought of having to leave causes me near physical pain, so attached am I to this wonderful country. If anything, the reverse culture shock of having to go back to Scotland is going to be a lot more difficult to face than any shock I experienced in moving away.

(picture included of me playing pétanque and the sunshine in Marseille) 

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Je suis Française Je suis Française

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