Very often, when we native English speakers meet people for the first time here in Reunion, one of the most common questions we get asked is: ‘why on earth did you come to Reunion?’ It’s funny, you don’t hear the same question for people who have come from Mainland France, but I guess that’s because its commonplace. But when we say ‘I’m from Melbourne’ or ‘London’ or ‘Texas’ the reaction of people is often this amazed look on their face, going wow! Why would someone as cool as you come to a place like Reunion?
Well, we all have our different reasons. For me, it was a collection of about five or six. First and foremost, I was living and working in London, but it felt so boring, predictable and I was having a fun time I suppose, but I knew that if I didn’t leave then, I would never leave, and the prospect of spending the next fifty years in the same place scared me to death.
Number two was that it was also 1999, which meant that I wanted to mark the beginning of this new millennium with an outstanding experience, one which would really put me to the test.
The plan was to spend six months here, and then see how I felt afterwards. 99% of me thought I would be back in the UK within a year, but there’s always that little 1%, that little spark which leads us to do adventurous things, to take new risks, and also to break the mould. Like many people, society expected me to get a job in the same place I was born, and follow the crowd.
But that would have meant staying in England…
Which brings me to reason number three: the climate. I’ll admit it: sunshine makes me happy. Rainclouds and gloomy skies get me down. Before London I had lived in Beziers and Montpellier, and had fallen in love with the south of France. And reason number four was the language. What’s the point of spending four years studying a language and never using it? I had to get back to the strange and exotic world of croissants, fine wines and the joys of the subjunctive tense.
So it was a classic example of when you know exactly what you want, and you go for it – my criteria: somewhere hot, French, adventurous and unique. Someone suggested a tiny place in the Indian Ocean, and off I went. Reunion Island it was.
They say that the rest is history, but the second question I often get asked, and this will be Part II of this podcast, is ‘Why on earth did you stay…?’
native English speakers – anglophones
funny – marrant
commonplace – courant
amazed – étonné
first and foremost – tout d’abord
predictable – prévisible
scared – effrayé
outstanding – remarquable
afterwards – après cela
spark – étincelle
mould – moule
to expect – s’attendre
crowd – foule
gloomy – lugubre
what’s the point – quel est l’intérêt?
you go for it – tu te lances
tiny – minuscule