Expat’ life | Stupid questions of a naive expat

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When you’ve been living in a country forever, you obviously know a lot of things. But the truth is that you don’t even know you know these things, cause they all seem so logical and automatic. And one day, you decide to move abroad and you soon start to realize how many of these little easy processes just turned into problems in your new life. Therefore, and in order to survive, you’ll have to ask question and sometimes, let’s be real, you’ll sound like a total moron:

  • And I start with the one that had everyone laugh: “Do we need to pay for electricity in this country?” When we first moved in New York, the electricity was already on so we were expecting to get a bill in the mailbox at some point (as it’s done in Switzerland). But after several months without getting anything, we just assumed it was included in the rent. We finally asked a friend who told us that we actually needed to register first. We did it, 6 months after moving.
  • “Well, I don’t know how anything about change“. I said that to one of my colleague who needed help closing the store at night, cause I had no idea how much which coin represented. (Edit: this was in 2015. I still have no clue when it comes to coins!)
  • Is prostitution legal in this country?” I mean, that’s a really good question!
  • All questions regarding taxes. But what surprises my friends isn’t the fact that I don’t actually know how taxes are calculated, but rather why I want to know anything about taxes. “You’re gonna pay it anyway, there is no point learning more about it. Pay it and move on”.

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  • Are these bars on all windows mandatory?” We found the perfect apartment but all the windows were having bars. Apparently it’s only mandatory when you have children under the age of 7. So we got the apartment and got rid of the ugly bars.
  • How do I cash a check?” Because they all are still using checks but I hadn’t seen one ever before I first moved here. (but I still have no clue when it comes to checks!) (edit: I still have no ideas!)
  • “Don’t we have any hole puncher in this office?” (The answer was “duh” and then pointing on that weird object below.) Hole punchers don’t look like that at all in Europe 🙂

  • “Don’t you mind these weird restrooms” (The answer was “nope, why would I?” with an astonished face.) (Intimacy in the bathroom, such an European concept!)

  • Anything related to romantic relationships, cause it’s a complete different kind of interactions. Never ask someone whether they love the person they’ve been seeing, it can take months just to admit they “like” them. I once asked a good friend about the girl he was with (and by that I mean “sleeping with”), who was not the one I knew he was seeing for months. “We never said we were exclusive.” Oh, of course then!
  • And a lot of tiny stupid things like how to pay the parking(the machines are different from what you’re used to, how to take the train, from getting a ticket to hopping on the right one, filling all the stupid administrative paperwork, getting the right kind of milk from the grocery store (which means spending hours reading all the labels cause nothing is familiar anymore), looking for a job, etc.

And one day, you hear yourself explaining how the Electoral College works to one of your American friend, who has absolutely no idea it even existed, which makes you think that you’re on the good path for integration!

What about you? Ever made a fool of yourself?

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10 Responses

  1. Hahaha, c’est bien marrant ton article mais allez personne ne peut t’en vouloir tu n’y peux rien si c’est différent là d’où tu viens 😀 Moi je bloque souvent sur les pourboires à l’étranger, des fois je me dis qu’il faut en donner parce que je l’ai lu, mais des fois je me dis que c’est ce qu’ils font croire aux étrangers pour qu’ils en donnent, alors qu’eux mêmes n’en donnent pas : je suis sure par exemple qu’il est précisé dans les guides voyage vers la France qu’il faut laisser des pourboires alors qu’on ne va pas se mentir, nous français n’en laissons jamais, du moins en France 😀

    1. Oui la question des pourboires est souvent bien épineuse! Aux USA ça se fait (c’est même souvent la seule manière qu’ont les serveurs notamment de gagner leur vie..) Mais c’est compliqué de savoir combien donner / a qui et surtout de ne pas se faire avoir…..

  2. J’aime beaucoup ton article 😀 Et oui ça doit pas être évident de changer de pays , on ne pense pas à tout, il y a plein de choses qu’on se rend compte seulement quand on est devant le fait accompli j’imagine ! Bon dimanche ! Gros bisous!

  3. Ahh tu m’as fait rire avec l’electricite alors quand j’ai amenage au Canada je pensais que s’etait a eux de m’envoyer automatiquement la facture je n’ai rien recu et un jour un mec (l’ancien locataire) est venue taper a ma porte car c’est lui qui a recu la facture je me suis senti bete d’un coup 🙂 et je lui ai demande comment on faisait pour payer il m’a apporte gentiment le numero de phone a appeller enfin bref pleins d’anecdote et le fameux Bienvenue (you welcome) a chaque fois que je descendais du bus je disais merci au conducteur et lui me repond bienvenue j’etais étonnée je vais voir mon oncle et lui demande comment se fait-il que tout le monde sache que je suis nouvellement arrive dans ce pays 😉
    bisou ma belle j’aime bien lire tes articles

    1. Ahahah tu me rassures! C’est fou quand même ce concept de devoir aller courir après les factures, non?

      Et oui, les questions de langues, quelle galère, je suis en train d’en faire un article! Bises et a très bientôt! <3

  4. Super article ! C’est vrai qu’on n’est pas habitué aux coutumes des pays étrangers… Même en vacances, je me souviens avoir vu des gens aux Etats Unis remplir mes sacs de courses en bout de caisse… Prête à leur laisser un pourboire, ils m’ont dit être payés par le magasin pour faire ça… Ils devraient faire ça en France aussi, surtout au moment de Noël 🙂

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