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'Expats who don't integrate are just lazy'

The Local · 8 Nov 2013, 09:49

Published: 08 Nov 2013 09:49 GMT+01:00

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Many expats who come to France find it hard to integrate. But even when their French improves, and the language barrier is no longer and issue, there are some who've come from Britain, Ireland, Australia, or North America, but still socialize only with other expats.

Anglo pubs, sports clubs and social groups can be a home away from home for them, and they might get through the week without saying more than a word or two in French. 

Not so for Englishman Neil Kreeger, who moved to Avignon in southern France five years ago, and now lives in Paris.

He tells The Local why he would be perfectly happy to only have French friends and why expats who don’t try to integrate are "lazy and scared".

I have no desire to be part of an expatriate community in France. I don’t actively avoid other expats, but I just don’t come across them and I don’t try to mix with them.

I don’t see the point. It was difficult to move to France, get set up and integrate, and after all that hard work, I don’t see the point in going back to an environment I could have had in England, without doing a thing.

I didn’t come here to hang out with people I could’ve hung out with at home.

Of course, you have to like it here, and some people don’t. But I love it.

Most of my friends are French, and I really only socialize with French people. I prefer the French sense of humour.

French are 'more civilized, more grown up and classier'

People here are more cultured. I’m not a fan of Anglo culture: the drinking, the reality TV, I hate all the mediocrity. People don’t go in for that crap to the same extent in France.

The French way of socialising is more civilised, too. People drink for the pleasure of drinking. You can go out, meet a friend, chat one-on-one, and just drink coffee, without that being an issue.

It’s classier and more grown up.

The only reason I’d ever go to an expat bar is to watch football, and that’s only because I can’t afford the right TV subscription package to watch it at home.

In fact, my idea of a nightmare night out in Paris is this:

We go to someone’s house and get drunk before going out, then go to an Irish bar where it’s disgusting and noisy.

You can’t hear anything and people are acting like idiots - people going out onto the streets, shouting, vomiting, getting kebabs: basically what happens in Britain but in France.

I do chat to friends from home, but socializing with other Anglos isn’t that big a deal for me. Honestly, I’d be perfectly happy to only have French friends.

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And to be frank, I don’t think much of expats who move here and only hang out with other expats.

It’s silly, you make the effort to come here, but then just hang around with people from home? I just don’t see the point.

I think they want to do something different, but then they’re too scared or too lazy to integrate.

Not everyone’s prepared to make the effort, but it’s worth it. There’s so much to be gained from integrating in France. 

Do you make a point of mixing with the French? Or do you tend to socialize with your fellow expats? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

(Interview conducted by Naomi Firsht).

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