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A sense of belonging

My mother is English, English like a rose or Yorkshire pudding, (sorry about the comparison) so English that if you cut her in half she would, like a stick of rock have GB written all the way through her! 

My father is French - as french as garlic Maurice Chevalier or vin ordinaire although there is nothing ordinary about mon pere. By his parentage he is actually French/Italian.

During my childhood and teenage years, we lived in England, briefly in France and Spain and we emigrated to Canada and then Mexico. When I left school at 16 in England I went to the States to school in upstate New York for about a year, staying with family friends. I have lived in southern England, but more recently in the North 8 miles from the Scottish border.
My parents, after several more adventures and sojourns in France, Cornwall and Mexico have settled comfortably in Kent, which I guess if you twisted my arm I would call 'home'. But the truth is, I never have felt that I belong anywhere. I've been to school in four different countries, in Canada I adjusted quickly but after a year we moved to Mexico and I had to learn the language and participate in the morning lessons with kids three years younger. When I came back to the UK I was nearly two years behind, and it took me a good while to fit in. My husband and I have moved home seven times, as I get to that stage of feeling comfortable and I get a whiff of belonging, we move. Of course I am happy where my husband and kids are, but I live 400 miles away from my parents and I often feel isolated here, not geographically, but it's more an emotional isolation and I think its something only I can figure out.

When we were younger we kids always knew we could represent either Britain or France if we became sportsmen - we didn't- and as a child I did support England over France in the Footie world cup or tennis or eurovision song contest! But as I've grown older, and my links have naturally loosened, as they do when you leave home and make your own way in life. I've been drawn more to things French, the culture, the landscape, the people, thinking about my early french experiences and memories. Often we only realise the value of family as we get older and I have sometimes thought I should have explored the option of dual nationality but as with so many things put the thought away for another day.

Well I think that day may have arrived. I have been in contact with the French Embassy in London, and have found out my father registered all his children's births with the Etat civil. Mum tells me he made special trips to London to do this after each of us were born. I was touched to learn this and it also tells me that it must be important to my father.

So, 'Mlle. Marie' at the embassy has confirmed that I can still, even though I am married and hold a UK passport, claim my french citizenship and apply for a French passport. The extraordinary thing is that I can't tell you how it makes me feel and how excited I am about this on several levels. My father knows nothing about this, indeed I can't recall his ever mentioning it bar once in passing that it was an entitlement  and he won't know about it until if and when I have a French passport in my hand to show him,  I can't wait to see his face. As an adult I have never felt completely English. When I'm filling in forms and am asked my nationality or ethnicity or ethnic origin, I always want to write European, which doesn't exist as a category, so I write British, but always reluctantly as it's not quite right for me! This does not diminish myEnglishness at all in fact I think it enhances it. Gosh aren't we complicated creatures!

This isn't yet a done deal, but looks very promising and it has helped me to sort out my thoughts and feelings which is a huge bonus! Of course now this may make life more complicated, as I could exit the country on UK passport and enter on french ... which is rather silly l know, but funny!

I will keep you posted...

Ethnicity -ethnic traits, background, allegiance, or association 
Ethnic origin - belonging to or deriving from cultural, racial, religious or linguistic traditions of a people or country


Comments

  1. Wow, how cool is that?

    I have a little of everything in me, all mixed together (English, Dutch, Irish, Welsh, and Cherokee). To look at me, you'd definitely see the English or the Dutch more than anything. I was a fair-haired, blue-eyed baby.

    I love that you want to claim the parts of you that feel most authentic. And I'll bet your father will be beside himself with pride.

    Peace - D

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  2. Oh Sazzie, I am buzzing with excitement. I am dying to tell pops, but of course I won't. What a great present it will be for him.

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  3. That is wonderful... and how romantic to be able to be French!
    I can identify with your loss of roots - I can only say I was born in the UK - but have lived all over it, and now, all over New Zealand. Home.. i guess it is where i live now....

    On top of that, I am adopted. Through some internet sleuthing, I discovered that I was definitely born in Chelsea, London and I really exist under my original name in birth records - that was an exciting day. Sometimes I look at the page because it was so amazing to know I came from somewhere and I existed as another person!
    Congratulations and I look forward to hearing about the new passport and the look on your father's face.

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  4. How interesting! I do so love having different personas ;)

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  5. I'm a bit confused. I thought everyone had an EC passport these days?

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  6. I think this is SO exciting! Although I was born here in Vancouver, British Columbia, and have lived in Canada all my life, I feel very British. All my ancestors came from England, Scotland, and Wales - from both sides - and all our traditions are very British. Paper hats and crackers at Christmas. Haggis in January. Highland games. and on...so I can understand your excitement. I wish I could have a British passport, but I guess Canadian is pretty good, too. :D

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  7. As a "Global Nomad" myself--I so get the longing to belong bit! Best of luck on the duel citizenship!

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  8. EXpat Mum- Nope in the uk we have a BRITISH passport..l'm afraid its all bollocks about no borders, EU all in one boat...RUBBISH...the Brits sit on the fence whilst Europe is over the water...some EU countries have EU looking passports, but there are border controls as usual...nothing has changed there, though we can travel to EIRE, with id only, like a driving licence..

    hth

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  9. Oh how nice that you Father did that. I am a mix of a number of things..mostly English...

    New Rambling Woods Site

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  10. This is very exciting! What an interesting childhood you must have had.

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  11. F3,
    I can only imagine how it feels to feel 'displaced'. Your father gave you a wonderful gift if you choose to take it. Just remember, "Home is where you hang your memories."
    Love,
    Jo

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  12. Thanks pretty good. I've always wanted to live abroad all my life so I find it ironic that I feel the most settled I have ever been in Hadrian's Wall country.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on!

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  13. Award for you over at my place. We must go for a coffee soon! Will e-mail call soon.Hx

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  14. I am seriously jealous of your Anglo-Frenchness! What a perfect combo, and it will be fantastic to have a French passport, I really hope it all goes smoothly. I am constantly plotting how to help my (as yet non-existent!) children be bilingual and multi-national, and it hasn't helped that I married someone English. I'm scheming up ways to stay living in Paris and send them to school here!

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  15. I do sympathise about the rootlessness. We lived all over the place when I was young but I feel deeply at home since coming to Wales.
    How unutterably cool to have a French passport. Do you speak French as well?
    Came to you via Expatmum by the way!

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  16. Hi FF&F (I'm sure you're none of them really!) I found you through Hadriana's Treasures and what a time to walk in on your blog. Good luck with your French passport. A friend, married to a Frenchman, has just applied for French nationality - boy, the hoops she had to jump through. I was born in Iran and had dual nationality as the Iranian state didn't recognise any other nationalities at the time. When I reached 21 I had to choose whether or not to keep my Iranian 'nationality'. Took me a nanosecond to decide...! But my Iranian birth certificate was great fun to flash at the cinema if they ever questioned my age. VLiF

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  17. I live in the US, though I was born in England and moved to Australia when my parents emigrated in 1970, three weeks before I turned 16.
    I took out Australian citizenship before my youngest two kids were born. I have dual citizenship, though I no longer feel any pull towards England, or the slightest desire to be English.
    Australia has my mind, heart and soul, completely.
    My kids, though, are all about to apply for British passports!

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  18. How wonderful.. I never feel British either.. Scottish mother and Chinese father.. I know the mixture of feelings you mention!

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  19. I hope that by now this is indeed 'a done deed'!

    My Mum was English and my Dad came from Southern Ireland. Every year we would go 'home' for the holidays and it is one of my biggest childhood memories... 5 trains and a mailboat!!

    I lost my Dad when I was 19 but realised that the pull from Ireland was really strong when I took my children to Wales on holiday and couldn't pass Holyhead without going over the water for the day.... home!

    I now have my citizenship and two passports, though it took a lot of doing - it was almost a relief when I was accepted.

    Strange really as neither my brother or my sister have bothered.

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