“I was very nervous when I arrived in Argentina, because of the language. My dream was to live in Latin America.” Claire is French and moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, when she was 20 years old. She went to live in San Cristóbal, a poor neighbourhood where she believed she could experience the real Argentina. “For me it was more interesting than living in the 'best' areas of the city, because what you get in these areas is more a European vision”.
However, she suffered there from a different sort of prejudice. “When you go to a supermarket or a flea market people say: ‘Oh, you are French, so you can pay more’ Just because I am French people think I am rich, I got tired of it.”
After four years, she decided to leave Buenos Aires and had to find where home was for her again. “When you live so far away for such a long time you still have your own culture and values, but you also identify with the new culture."
“I can't say that I am completely French anymore, because when you leave your country for so long, you lose things, habits, but you also gain a lot from the new place you live in. Sometimes I ask myself about my own identity. But after all, what is the difference between Barack Obama, the Syrian refugees, me or you … at the end of the day we are simply human beings.”
Now Claire is living in Geneva, where she feels that the culture is closer to the French one. “I feel like home, we are close to the mountains like in my hometown in the Pyrenees, there is good wine and I know the social and cultural codes… I do not have to think about how I have to behave”.
Photo credit: Mareike Günsche