Gissot Mathieu and Emile Bouvier

Recorded August 18, 2007 Archived August 18, 2007 40:33 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: GCT004187


Emilie speaks with her husband Matthieu about immigrating from France to New York for work. He speaks about their difficulties and identity.

Subject Log / Time Code

Why we moved to the U.S.
Getting married
Describe the marriage
We got married so that I could have a work visa in New York
Arrived during a snow storm
Frustration from not having what we have in Paris
What was the most difficult time for you
Do you think we could have avoided that?
What are the most important lessons you have learned
We are lucky because Americans accept us
I wish we could go back to France
Feel we need to escape from here
Emilie recounts how difficult it was to get a job, and connected here
Emilie says what she has learned
What made you realize you were different from Americans
How would you tell Americans to act toward immigrants
I thought people would be open-minded
I understand immigrants in France with an Arabic paper watching Arabic shows


  • Gissot Mathieu
  • Emile Bouvier


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00:04 Hello, my name is Emily. I should say my last name as well Bouvier Bouvier. It's still Bouvier. I am 28 and today we are August 17th of 2007. No mites and we are in Grand Central terminal in New York. And I'm going to interview Matthew my husband.

00:34 Hi, my name is I met you and my last name is Earl episodes. I am 29 and we are today the 18th of August 2007. We are at the New York Grand Central Terminal and Albion be interviewed by ending my spouse we are here in New York and it's not well it's that has become usual but we're friends and we were born in friends and we have we grew up in friends. So I was wondering if we could speak about our experience here in New York and in the United States, and I wanted to ask you a few questions about that.

01:27 So, can you tell me when and why we decide did to go and leave in the US and what were your goals and expectations when we left friends to come here?

01:44 So I think we decided something.

01:50 When it was November 2004 and so I had no 444 work here and we were wondering whether or not we we should go to us instead of going to another country in Europe. For example, I had an offering in English and obviously you for me New York was much more exciting terms of environment for the CD self and and for work. So I just remembered that I had to decide before mid November and and that was exactly at the time where they was election here in the US and then we were I remember that that bush won.

02:50 Presidential election in it. And then I had adults and say should should we really go in this country when they vote for Bouchon twice in a row and then and finally, I mean, I I remember asking you whether or not you would be a good choice for you and and that time you told me.

03:16 Let's go ahead go ahead and go. Let's go in there and you are something some somewhere that he's a far away far away from from from friends not in England where we can go back in friends every every weekend or and and I think that was I never realized at that time that he was something that will there really be something important for us and that will something that will shape or relationships to this country and to our country is the distance between France and and us

03:59 And then so that was so weak we came here because of my work and your porch monkey I had and and you

04:16 I shouldn't say you followed because you you took this decision with me, but that's that's what brought us here. And what was the first the very first consequence of these Choice the very first consequence was that we got married and how would you describe describe our marriage? Do you have any favorite stories about it? Yeah. Well, I remember it was a time of tension between us and our parents. I remember it was

05:02 It was it was all so I remember it as a very nice and peaceful time between us I mean to prepare a Chanute elf. I mean the day was was I think there was that was great love for talk to the end. But and I remember we did it fast and we we had two to choose very quickly where we wearing the marriage of the wedding going to be held in in

05:41 I think it's it's very strange because I remember something very fast, but very smooth also and then hang out with you just lie. I think I looking bad at that that. It wasn't smooth.

05:57 Just so that everybody understands we get married so that I could get a visa and a work permit in the US and I could have a nice life to here in New York. So we got married and amounts afterwards after we

06:14 Flew to New York and what is your earliest earliest memory of New York. We we actually arriving, you know, when there was a snowstorm and I remember so when someone was was about to beat your ass at the airport, and I remembered that we had a very heavy luggage because of course. We were bringing everything that we needed from from friends. And I remember there was so much wind so much snow that the wing basically put the luggage on the ground and this this was something like I don't know like 30 30 or 40 pounds and and just to be on the ground.

07:14 And we couldn't even reach the cab and quite scary. Do you remember the date? It was March 8th 2005.

07:26 So how long have you been here more than two year almost two years and a half. How is your life and our life in the US Open different than what you had imagined?

07:43 I think you did. The main difference is that went when we all ride? I think I always I think I never realized that we will not leave in Manhattan. And so when we arrived we we we we had an apartment in the Bronx because my my work were there and my actually do my work was providing an apartment there, which was nice, but that was since we we are more CD people and we used to lay it to live inside Paris. And I think that was something that I was not expecting. I was expecting living in Manhattan and and

08:31 And definitely I think I never thought life would be that much different from from what we be leaving in in Paris. Can you describe a few of the differences?

08:45 When you hear what it was so different then did you like it or I think I think you always some kind of frustration not adding what we used to have in Paris these you know, little things like because I think we really really loved over life when we left. We're where we used to leave and where what we used to do over there. Even though we we we understood that we had to go on and I mean I had to go on and probably you in your life at that time. I think we we we kept

09:37 Remembering of D&D part of her life like a very good remembering

09:45 What what was the most difficult time for you?

09:50 The most difficult and I think it's very was probably when when you were trying to get a job and and you didn't have any opportunity to get a teaching interview or or anything else in you you were trying to to

10:15 Get something anything that will will will give you an opportunity to to express yourself and that I think that was the hardest time and there was probably the then I think that was one of the hardest time but probably the hardest time was when we 1 months after we arrived and I realized how hard he's going to be for you to just add apps to this country and into because I do not have to face the same challenges because I had a job directly. However environment I have I had two people to that cared about me and caring about me being.

11:08 It's hurting our

11:10 Life here

11:15 And do you think we could have avoided that do you think we could have done things better or?

11:22 Is there a do you have any regrets? Yeah, I think he I think we made a huge mistake thinking that you will come to your ass and find a job easily. And that was that was really my in my what I thought at the time is that you you wouldn't have any problem because you had this job in France that was kind of higher-ranking job. And you had all those diplomas in France that are

12:00 Some some of the best in France so you when you you're going from a situation where where in France you would find a job without even thinking of it. So once again when you you got a job before leaving school, so I think we when we arrived here we should have Foods in advance that maybe you should try to get some sort of a year of what would be the job market and and I think we were just when we arrive we have no idea and we we had a very difficult reality. That was a

12:42 Smashed new our face

12:45 And more positive now. What were the best times and what are you proudest of in your life here in New York? And do you like New York? What do you like?

13:01 I don't know. It's very strange. I think I like New York, and I think I'm

13:10 I'm still adapting and I know and the thing is that we removed from the Bronx. No, we need we live in Manhattan and and that that changed some showing some things but I'm still adapting to where I leave. And and and the way I live is is way different from how I did in French.

13:37 What would you say are the lessons the most important lessons that you've learned a living away from friends from your home country from your family from your native environment? I should say I would say I

13:54 Understood partially very partially what is to be an immigrant? And for a French citizen is it's very strange because we are a country in France is a country of immigration. And of course we we we no immigrants and when I was a child most of my my friends were from where immigrants at my songs of immigrants are immigrants them self. And I think I even though I had an idea of what they were leaving. I never really understood what was behind it and I'm leaving here.

14:41 And if it makes things more here for me, and I know what it is to be an immigrant in some ways. I know what is to be in a country where when every second you you feel you're not belonging to this country. And I know what what how it feels to every every day every second people show you or or that you're not part of this country and I just because it's it's your identity mean people are not mean or or or they don't mean to hurt you but they they just

15:31 Everyday every second you're French whatever you do your friends and and it's it's something very strange to feel because we we never used to to feel that that that feeling in France and of course that we are free. We were French and friends, but there was no question. Everybody was friends.

15:49 Hello, and what what was the most what is the most difficult? Is it the language the cultural though? It's so huge.

16:04 The way of life, I know I don't think it's it's of course. It's a feeling of of of being different in terms of culture because

16:18 And I think we are we are lucky to be that kind of immigrants that that you know that Americans thing that's Franciso great food is so great. And the culture in France is so great. Even though I die don't really think they they really nobody's you don't want friends as we know it still image of friends, which is so different from the real agent. So it's not a matter of culture. I think it's a matter of of identity and an end the main thing that happen when your urine Amy Grant is that you're you're you're facing a complete renewal of your end identity because of course hear my identity to be French.

17:14 And first first, but yeah, we are to us via and not not to be mean but I used to being friends. Just just being yourself.

17:35 I think I would I would.

17:39 I don't know it all.

17:42 You know it it's there is these here there's this this first layer that is French and with all old old there is beyond for Americans, which is not exactly the same. What would French say to be French? Anyway, I think in France the people at my end I didn't you will be composed of everything I am so I I was at the time I was working for me tonight in a lab fighting malaria. I was part of a socialist party. I was my parents were coming from south of friends. I had oldest Heritage and and and this

18:42 Those multiple things where we're in fact part of me and part of my identity and people will understand that as being complex and and and similar and different from from others with you. You're you're just French.

19:05 Your first friend in French, but yeah, then when I hope that when we get to know people lie, because they're interested in you and that only in your French Nest is that word word exist blood prevails.

19:22 Soap

19:25 What does our future hold in your in your mind? Where do you see us in 5 years or in 20 years? Do you think we're still going to be in the u.s. Living in New York or do you think we're going to be back in friends or somewhere else?

19:44 I think I don't know. Do you like nothing because that was a something something special for us is because we always had a life where we knew more or less what was happening what could happen in in two or three years? And no no. No, I don't feel very comfortable with it because it's also

20:23 He also has a lot of things to do with the my work and if if I can go back to France and if I can do my work I can work in friends or not. And and and that some that's a very

20:40 Interesting, but question, but obviously nobody can answer that now is I think now I wish I could we could go back to friends.

20:53 Nndc help you sleep with weird where I am trying to do, but I'm not sure there are not I'm going to succeed and and Andie Case we we we will face this choice of staying here are trying to stay here.

21:13 Remember, but I should ask you the question is where where did you see at 2 or 5 years?

21:23 Teenager or a very young addled I was kind of

21:29 Sing myself ahead 10 years or 20 years ahead. I've stopped doing that since we've been in the US. I can't I think I've stopped thinking about what we would be or what we would do.

21:44 5 years from now or 20 years from now which is a positive change. I think for me as of today. I can say I'm really happy with your new York and with our life and I hope it's going to last at least a year or two and we'll go from there. I don't know.

22:09 What there's one thing that we plan and there is really hope that we will have children together and we hope to have the first one soon. So if one day they have the chance to listen to this recording, what would you like to tell them or let's say that as a general message. How would you describe to them our experience in New York and our experience living abroad?

22:53 It's a difficult question. I think it's impossible to to enter now is is because okay. Well, I should say it's a it's a wonderful experience because then your yard and try to understand who you are. And because your your nose question are asked about your identity and because you're leaving in that in another country.

23:24 It also asked question about who you are according to your to your your family your relationship with your family because you're you're you're not going to see them as often as you used to. So it's it's a package of great experience and it's a package of questions of of hard things to deal with also and I I don't know how to describe it. No, I think if there's a happy ending that would prevails if it's if it's something where we feel we need to escape from here then then that's going to be another story. So what would be the happy ending?

24:19 I mean for now the happy ending with weird as going back to friends with wake me up in the great job in Friends.

24:31 That would be unhappy ending in the end media.

24:35 Having an American kids also, but that's another story.

24:42 Is there any question that you've never asked me during this two and a half years or anything that you've never told me and would like to tell me now or

24:58 I should try to describe your face as I'm asking the questions to him and people again Just Dance.

25:10 I don't know why I would I think that it do question.

25:15 I'll ask you is is similar to what what you what you asked me before he is.

25:22 What was your hardest time? And then how do you feel you're changed you or heat?

25:33 Change your your behavior.

25:41 Well

25:43 I will obviously the hardest time was

25:47 The hardest times were the first times when we arrived in 2005 and I was searching for a job and we keep talking about our jobs as if it was the most important things in our lives and we were actually speaking about that this morning and singing. Wow. So foccus on our professional life, it's almost scary. But obviously I read it was the first time I was an occupied. I didn't have anything to study to work on anything that I didn't have anything to structure my my daily life and

26:32 It was really really difficult and it was the first time it was experiencing that and

26:39 I had a tendency to sing that that made me and happy and I was kind of avoiding to think of.

26:50 Obvious consequences of moving abroad leaving your family, you're leaving your friends living your environment and living all the comfort that we had in France because as you were describing we had an identity we didn't have to question it and I don't know if their heart is today. I don't know if I should say that the hardest was not have not to have a job, but rather

27:20 Having to question this identity and to have plenty of time to wonder. What am I doing? Who am I what do other people think I am. I mean, who would they do? Do they think I am and

27:42 It was well, this was obviously difficult and I had no

27:48 Framework two things that I think I understood it much later. And in that way. I think we were not really prepared to the experience, which is fine. I mean, I don't know if we could have been prepared actually bed and the bad consequence is that because we couldn't really understand what was going on.

28:16 It became a little bit difficult between the two of us and

28:22 We should have had been real. I mean we were very supportive through each other and wet in some ways and in other ways.

28:31 It was too difficult for you to help me and I felt that I didn't help you and on the other end even worse. I made your life a little bit more difficult at the beginning.

28:47 Because you had all this structure around all these all these rewards of moving abroad through your job and your work environment and your head all these hopes and

28:58 I was full of hopes, but

29:04 There was nothing I could rely on on a daily basis and

29:11 Yeah, it was a little bit difficult, but

29:16 And it's true that we were thinking of. I mean we were wondering whether it was reasonable to stay in the US and two. It was great for your professional life. It was not great from mind and mine and more generally speaking. It was not

29:33 Greatest time for me but one or two years later. I

29:39 I am so happy to been through that. I mean not to think I mean, it's not that I'm happy to go through that. But I know that I've learned so much bad about me about

29:55 How to interact with people around us and

30:01 This has really changed my

30:06 List of priorities I mean, although work-life is still very important and we know we both know that we're a little work of Workaholics to the two of us, but

30:25 I don't know my myself. I mean the way I see myself as totally changed and

30:36 I feel like much stronger much much more myself than I was.

30:43 In 2045 when we left friends and well, obviously it was not the greatest time in my life. He's turned before we left bed because of work again, but

30:59 Now I've learned so much and I'm so happy and I

31:07 When I'm

31:10 Try to think of what where we should go and what we should do next. I feel like

31:17 I'm not sure. I want to go back to friends soon.

31:22 Because we're going to

31:25 Go back an hour to our comfort zone and although I know that it will be a little bit difficult at first trip to France, but ultimately will.

31:37 People will still see us as people who have studied who had great jobs and blah blah blah and and we will be stuck with this.

31:52 Image which is so black and white and we're much more than that and

32:00 And being outside of the comfort zone here is so enriching. And so yeah so enriching

32:13 I'm the interviewer. I should ask you a question for you looking at me like this.

32:27 I'm sure you have a question the other question for me.

32:35 Do you have any any toads where I where you that made you realize that you were your friends were when you were different from from Americans?

32:55 We need another hour.

32:59 Well, yeah, we're different in so many ways and similar in so many ways. It's just it's kind of lame to say that but

33:09 Can I avoid the question and ask you one last question?

33:13 Because you were describing all these identity issue in this French American thing.

33:24 What would you tell?

33:27 American people

33:29 About

33:31 What did I mean you've described that a little already but

33:38 Do you have any message about?

33:42 The way or let well, let's make it even more General maybe a little bit more political. How do you think

33:53 Count reading people should

33:57 Add Tower immigrants and how do you think what would make transitions easier for immigrants when they resettled in are in a foreign country?

34:12 What is the most important thing in your opinion?

34:17 Well, I think the most important thing is that people.

34:23 Mean people

34:26 That

34:29 Are hosting

34:32 Has to be have to be open they didn't need to understand that there is there is there are some things that are different in other countries in and they doesn't mean that

34:50 Their way of living is is worse than the other or better than than another but it's just a different way of living and I really thought that people here would I have some kind of will be very very open-minded in terms of accepting different way of living but in fact and that's probably exactly the same for a is probably worst in France.

35:22 I don't think people are are really that open-minded. And and even I still would I I was really really open-minded around those questions leaving here and and just for example, I I really feel like being an immigrant because I actually read the French newspaper. I actually look at French Division and I can French at home we speak French at home and I could be I could I could actually leaving France, you know, we have the same kind of news same kind of information being connected to France the same way if I was living in France, but I'm just leaving in the US. So I'm I'm just thinking about those immigrants and friends and we

36:22 That are watching Arabic television listening to Arabic radio reading Arabic newspaper and and and and that you know, I've already Trends and and I I just understand them. I just don't understand how hard it is to leave you, if you live in another country in a home match. You need to connect to your what was your identity before and and and just because it's a transition just because you're living in another country doesn't mean that you have to leave everything behind and and just you know going in washing machine and when you leave the washing machine, you're alright or all difference.

37:18 And so that's that's the main. I think that that's one thing about me about seeing other people that I will take home wherever the home keys.

37:42 Considered

37:46 Oh, it's it's it's it's a little silly, but I'll take that. I'm sorry. You said if ever you listening listen to Bad, so that was at work and I was so we are going for lunch and we were talking about what we would like to drink and I'm so I just say that I never used to drink a soda and especially I say I never used to drink Coke.

38:23 And this Mexican born American ask me.

38:32 Really candidly, or she really ask me.

38:41 Do you dream?

38:47 Pepsi instead, so you drink Pepsi right? She asked me different because in friends, okay people do you drink Coca-Cola or Pepsi? But but it is not a matter of of of it's not a question that you asked or it's not, you know, people don't really care about that and then before her so it's either you drink Coke or Pepsi, but he kind of bee you don't drink soda.

39:23 And I can finger anything in particular any anecdote because you're my memory Matthew. I'm sure you can remind me of something I've experienced and

39:42 No, you won't answer the question. But just to Surf Circle back to your washing machine metaphor circles back to my very first week in the US where when I put bleach instead of fabric wash in the washing machine and obviously their clothes that came out much wider than I expected and get was my first experience of being abroad and not knowing the language perfectly and

40:17 So I told least.

40:22 Thank you, Matthew.