| foreigner (feminine noun) | /etʀɑ̃ʒɛʀ/
I apologize for the unexpected hiatus. The housing search has been nothing short of a nightmare, and it occurred to me that I’m probably experiencing the same hardships my grandfather did when he arrived on Ellis Island several generations prior. For example, I’ve dealt with xenophobic landlords who, for a variety of reasons, refuse to rent to foreigners. It doesn’t matter that my American family has the means to pay for an apartment, their money is no good here. No one trusts me. I am alone in a strange country with little support from my program.
Without permanent housing, I cannot open a bank account. Thus, I must pay for all of my purchases in cash, because American credit cards are not widely accepted. I cannot be paid without a bank account. Additionally, I cannot send in my immigration forms. I am not a legal resident of France. And without housing, I cannot take advantage of social security or health care.
Ah, how ironic that an American should experience these problems!
Last Monday, my friend Martha and I sat in the center of her sublet studio. We were surrounded by things that were not our own. When could we unload our baggage, make ourselves a home from these misplaced objects, these things we’ve carried from afar? Indeed, my first two weeks in France have made me sympathetic to the plights of immigrants, strangers, and nomads. You can’t comprehend the expatriate’s pain until the taste of American chocolate and the presence of a dog have the power to make you cry.