journey of becoming a Franco-American. I officially became naturalized in May but because there ain't many of us furrenginers out here in the countryside who go about asking to be naturalized they only have a ceremony once every six months. Mystery Guest and I were invited to go and I really had no idea what to expect especially since some other naturalized Americans didn't go to their ceremonies. I guess to be honest I assumed it would just be in the main prefecture waiting area! But I did have my fingers crossed for champagne and champagne I got!
We were asked to show up 15 minutes early for a 6pm ceremony. There were about 30 people there plus their families/friends. But then we were lead out of the main prefecture and to the official residence of the "prefect" (who is basically the head of the "departement" or "state" that I live in).
Classssy! Beautiful tapestries, fairly modern yet tasteful decoration.
The prefect came out dressed to the nines in his military uniform and after a short informative video about being French (the only thing I found odd is that they tell you what it means to be French after you've been naturalized! what if you change your mind???) Then he gave a short speech and the European anthem was played. Afterwards we were invited to join him in singing la Marseillaise. When Mystery Guest asked if I knew all the words (we were given a photocopy of the lyrics just in case!) I said of course not, I know the few key lines but that's it - not that that's a bad thing don't ask me to sing the whole Star Spangled Banner off the top of my head either! (I'll always have a soft spot for the American national anthem, it's just so poetic and not so bloody...)
Then they handed out our new paperwork individually and took back our carte de sejours. I'm pretty sure they read us out in terms of the size of the cities we were from because I was dead last! Some of the mayors came to the ceremony - one even gave a lady a bouquet of flowers!
Then there was a pot, drinks and lots of yummy things to nibble on. Glad to see my tax euros being put to good use - that champagne was tasty!
I'm really glad I went (even though the capital city of our departement is about an hours drive) and that Mystery Guest could join me. Sometimes a ceremony is really nice, it really finalizes something, takes shape and becomes more meaningful than a letter saying congratulations. Plus it didn't drag on for ages, short, sweet and to the point which was perfect. :-)
I was interviewed by the local radio and on the drive home everything just came together. Still feels a little odd to say that I'm French - but in the same way that it feels odd to say that I'm 30 - it hasn't totally sunk in yet.
But I'm sure it will - I can't wait to vote in two presidential elections next year!