When an English Copywriter becomes French

In the past, I’ve written quite a few articles about copywriting from explaining SEO to the impact of Artificial intelligence. So, I thought it was time to share a few more personal insights from a Brit living (near) Paris.

Against a Brexit backdrop

Given the uncertain context created by the long, painful and seemingly never-ending Brexit process, I decided to take the big step… and become French. Obviously, I’d thought about it before, but it never seemed all that urgent until suddenly being British wouldn’t necessarily give me the automatic right to stay in the country I’ve made my home. 

I’ve been here (and paid taxes) for a long time, so I didn’t think they’d kick me out. At least not straight away. But it did transform my musings into action.

How exactly do you become French?

I set out finding out what I had to do to go from having one nationality to two. In the end, it wasn’t too complicated or expensive. Although it did involve a fair bit of paperwork, a year of waiting, a French language test, an interview that lasted all of 15 minutes and a ceremony where I was invited to sing the Marseillaise. 

I now have a new shiny red passport (although the photo is equally bad)* and can pick the one I want to use. A bit like changing a coat or handbag! 

*Just how do all photos make me look so washed out?

So, English Copywriter in Paris is no longer quite so English. 

The reality of having dual nationality

What does having two nationalities mean (or three in my son’s case)? What does it actually change? 

It’s not an easy question. Here are few thoughts I’ve scribbled down:

  • If I’m asked my nationality, I still find it weird and unnatural to say that I’m French. Many of my cultural references are still British and I hate games like Trivial Pursuits that highlight all the gaps that are so hard to fill.
  • Having lived here for 10 years, I wanted to be able to vote. The next presidential elections look set to pit Macron against Le Penn once again, and I’ll be glad to have my say. What’s more, my son was born here and he will be growing up feeling far more French than English. Somehow, I feel more included by being French too. 
  • Instinctively, we associate nationality with the country where we are born. But, in an increasingly mobile and interracial world where borders blur, I’m not sure this still applies to the same extent. Until recently, I never really understood people who claim to be citizens of the world, but maybe this is a more open and constructive way to view identity.

Would I have taken the step without Brexit? At some point, definitely. But it without doubt gave me a greater sense of urgency. 

Have you had similar or very different experiences? What does have more than one nationality mean to you? 

I’d love to hear from you. 

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