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Friday, 20 September 2013

A Very Special Friday with Helene of Won't Draw You a Sheep

I met Helene through another Facebook group and I loved her drawing. A person who usually works with words, I am always impressed by people who can express their thoughts and ideas through drawings. Helene is also an expat, a French woman living in Cyprus with her Cypriot husband. Helene draws pictures about her expat life there but also makes posters and illustrations. When I saw her great works, I asked her to draw something for me- and she did! This is a great, funny example of her work. Here she talks about the nostalgia French people feel for their food- and I think many of us can relate to this!

Expat life: The French in Cyprus

The French community in Cyprus does have the inquisitiveness to visit the whole island, understand more about the culture, customs, etc. and, true too, french people here globally eat a lot the (delicious and plain, made with fresh products grown here usually) local food. 

Globally I would say that here in Cyprus, most of the French people I know show a lot of respect to the local community. Some though always misbehave, have disdain for everything about Cyprus, complain all the time about the country, the food....but those people are not to hang around with because their level of negativity is awful and somehow to me, very disrespectful.

But even the most positive and respectful French people also remain obsessed with their own food that they miss so much. It is like a national obsession LOL!

So the French try to: 
- identify all the shops in town selling French food, in particular bread, cheese, wine...(drawing 1)
- to convince the local butchers they have no idea on how to cut the meat : and this sometimes leads to hilarious fights in the supermarkets. The butchers see us come from far away and fear us!!! 

So, this is I think a very strong French feature about expat life. The nostalgia the french have for their food and the need they have to find it and cook it.
Helene is French, but grew up abroad (in Africa) which she thinks was very helpful to make her see things from "the other point of view". 
Helene is French and grew up in Africa. She was used from young age to blend into a very different culture and hopefully she never lost it. 
Helene then lived (studied and worked) 12 years in Geneva Switzerland, where she has kept most of her (amazing and wonderful) friends. 

Then she moved very fast to the lovely island of Cyprus (searching for her Greek roots) and needing a big change of life. This where she has been living for 7 years and where she got married, to a Greek Cypriot American wonderful man, who himself is a mix of culture/education/vision of the world, between East and West. So our kid will be the same: a mix! :-)

From working in the private sector in Geneva and a couple of years in the UN, Helene started teaching French, working at a radio station and as a translator in Cyprus, before the crisis hit us hard and it all fell flat.

Nicolas was born in October 2012. Helene says she is lucky enough to have time at home to raise him and also to illustrate and write. She draws her expat life on  her blog- once in French, and once in English

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  1. Lovely drawings! Love the humor in it! And I agree, that home food becomes a nostalgia when you live in a foreign country. There is some food that I was not crazy about when I lived in my homeland Ukraine, but I will die for it now living in the USA!Thanks for sharing, Olga!

    1. Hi Olena, thank you for stopping by and commenting! Yes, when you live somewhere else, suddenly you realize that you're missing the food from your home country- that maybe you didn't eat so much! Glad you liked this post- Helene is a great illustrator! Maybe you'll find some Ukrainian food in the US- good luck!

    2. Thank you! Best of luck to you too!


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