Katie Gardner is a fully-Qualified CBT Counsellor and 10-year expat based on the border of 47/24. She’s here to answer your questions
Fiona W writes
I am becoming very distressed with hunters near my land, the noise and the gunshots particularly. I know the chasse is important here and they have the right to hunt but I am surprised at how much I am upset by it. Can you suggest any coping techniques, other than moving out every weekend?
I understand and agree that it can be very distressing, particularly when living a rural and quiet life. Firstly, perhaps some of your anxiety might emanate from the fact that you feel you have no control over it? Why not check the rights of your local chasse with your Mairie? Are they too close, when can they hunt, what rights do you have personally? This will make you better informed and be a positive action on your part, with a certain amount of empowerment. More information here: Droits – chasse – France (in French).
That said, could this be indicative of other anxieties you may have? I recently had a client whose distress seemed to be centred on the noise element of the chasse. On further investigation, it was also about the feeling of isolation she was experiencing generally, exacerbated by the perceived threat. The news stories about chasse “accidents” can also be disturbing.
These concerns need to be put into context before they can be overcome or eased. Write yourself a list: how real is the threat? What do you believe are the realistic consequences? Seeing this on paper will help you to realise that loud bangs are just that: loud bangs. Although troublesome, they are part of your new life in France and are highly unlikely to harm you.
Georgina R writes:
How does one go about meeting new people and making friends here? I have lived here for three months and am on my own so no mums at school gates to get to know or partner to go out socialising with?
As France is such a huge country, engagement with social media is one obvious way to find common interest groups in your area. Do try new things whilst recognising that if you’ve never wanted to crochet in Croydon, chances are you probably won’t want to macramé in Monpazier. That doesn’t mean you can’t at least go and try; you might meet someone with whom you click, even if you don’t want to return to that particular group.
Also, bear in mind that when you do meet new people, it’s worth expanding your notion of what friends “should” be and try not to just find like-minded people but, perhaps, those with whom you feel a certain rapport generally. Some might be for a quick coffee at the local markets occasionally, others will be those who you would like to see more of and more often.
Take a class, join an association, go to The French Buzz conversation venues, spread your net widely, dip a toe in unexpected waters.
Settling in in any new country is a challenge so you need to keep your expectations realistic; you cannot expect to take to everyone and, of course, vice versa. Try not to feel rejected if something doesn’t pan out; regroup and keep trying.
First published in the March/April 2019 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Katie Gardner and Shutterstock