*Exercise for Cultural Connection is a recurring section in The QUEST. Newsletter: One of the struggles that comes with being cross-cultural is often feeling like you may fit in but you do not belong. Every month, in the newsletter, I will outline an exercise to deepen your connection with your culture of choice.

A dedication to my French-ish

In the last minisode, I explained how in my understanding, culture is intricately linked to the people we know and the people we love from that culture. I say that based on my own experience. My relationship with France and French culture has changed over time. At some point in time I was very enamored by everything French. When I was a young kid I even thought I was French. Then I moved back there for my studies, and things started to shift.

I have a complicated relationship with France, and that relationship reflects the complex relationship I have with my own family— because French is the language we grew up speaking at home, especially with my parents. And French culture is the culture I associate with my parents, it’s their adopted culture of choice, as they both had difficult relationships with their cultures of origin.

I remember my first week back in Paris where I was bubbly, happy to be there, filled with curiosity and love for the city I was born in. At some point I interacted with someone who turned to me and said, “You must be new in town, because that energy will dim with time.” I looked at her a little shocked. But three years into living there, she wasn’t wrong. That excitement definitely waned over time.

Regardless of my changing feelings about everything French, I do want to keep that relationship alive. So in last month’s issue of The QUEST. Newsletter, I decided to exercise my French culture, by discovering new French music. As a teenager I was obsessed with creating playlists, one for every one of my moods. Admittedly, today I don’t spend as much time on that but I do still enjoy creating a playlist to match an activity, memory, or state of mind.

In past month I spent some time exploring new French music. This exercise was strangely emotional. Some songs, even though they were new discoveries, reminded me of childhood. Other songs reminded me of my more recent stint in France, and some even bring back vivid memories of specific experiences: time spent sipping wine on Parisian rooftops philosophizing about life, to roadtrips we took as children when cassette tapes played for hours until we reached our destination, and to tense times living in Paris through the troublesome years during the Charli Hebdo shooting and the Bataclan attacks.

From my cultural exposure, I find French cinema to be the most impactful and by far the most profound. It’s doesn’t have that happy-go-lucky feel of Hollywood productions. And personally, I love the realness. Even though that is more commonly known in French cinema, the same spirit spills over into French music. So here it is, the playlist I created over the past month. I discovered quite a few new artists, and many new songs. I want to share this playlist with you, and I hope it resonates.

Mais c'est comme ça les familles, on peut s'aimer comme on se détruit

— Angèle, Le Temps Fera Les Choses

What about you? Did you create a playlist to exercise an element of your ish? I’d love to hear it! This was the very first exercise for Exercise your culture section of The QUEST. Newsletter.

Sign-up to get future QUESTs!