From the Eiffel Tower to the Rodeo

Robert Viray-Edwards, ENN Staff

France: One of the most popular countries around the world and home to the famous Eiffel Tower and other tourist attractions such as the Louvre and French cuisines like Baguette au fromage. Also home to AP Environmental Science and Aquatic Science teacher, Marie Lamkin, a woman who left all of her friends, family, and familiar surroundings at the young age of 19. Though leaving home may be hard, going to a whole different country is on another level, but that was a risk Lamkin was willing to take.

Growing up in Marseille, France, life for Lamkin was nothing short of the average life. She went to school, hung out with her friends, and lived her life like a stereotypical coming-of-age school film. It was like this until 1990, when she moved to Texas because of her husband. Only some can imagine moving to another country and starting over, but for Lamkin it was a reality.

“I moved to Texas from France in 1990, because of my husband. It’s funny, because I had to do a paper in college asking where I would be whenever I turned 50 and I wrote about being here [Texas] and here I am,” said Lamkin.

France and Texas is like comparing books and movies, two vastly different things. On top of the language barrier, the type of people andthe food is different almost anywhere. Culturally and geographically speaking, moving from one place to another is an ultimate struggle for many. For Lamkin, the biggest struggle of moving to Texas was the people and atmosphere.

“From France to here, the biggest struggle was, it is going to sound funny, but the first thing people called me was ‘The White Girl.’ Where I come from, it is a melting pot city, so to me, them calling me that was weird. Another thing is that in France, everything feels smaller over there than here. Also, people don’t know how to drive here, they don’t follow the rules,” said Lamkin.

Aside from the cultural differences, there are other things that set Texas apart from France. Since Lamkin is a person who has a passion for teaching, the education system especially seemed  different to her. Attending college in the United States, Lamkin believes the differences between school in Texas rather than in France are apparent.

“When I was in France, it was very different, because when you leave high school, you have a diploma that allows you to have a job, but not a very good job. But regarding the level of education, when you leave high school in France, it is like two years of college over here,” said Lamkin.

Homesickness is a common thing when it comes to some people whenever they leave the place where they grew up and lived in for a long time. People miss the familiarity, their family, and friends. However, there are people who help ease the pain and make the time go faster. As for Lamkin, time moves faster now than it did during her early days in Texas.

“When I first moved here, my husband was my biggest support system. If I ever felt homesick I would just call my family. Like if I wanted to speak to someone in French, I would call my mom. However, now I don’t have time to feel homesick. I haven’t been back to France since my mom’s surgery, which was over three years ago,” said Lamkin.

Now, living in Texas for more than 30 years, longer than she lived in France, Texas is a new home to Lamkin. It is the place she is most familiar with. It is also where her family, her kids, stay. What could have been a temporary stay turned into her permanent home. Lamkin believes  that moving back to France is something that will probably never happen.

“At this point, I have lived here for over 30 years, so it would be weird for me to go back there and try to find a job and not have a degree over there. The degree that I have here would not be recognized over there. I got my citizenship here last year, I lived here more than I lived in France, and my  family, my children are here in the states, so I have no need to be back in France,” said Lamkin.

Overall, Lamkin’s monumental move from France to Texas was filled with possibilities, but it turned out for the better. She was able to get a degree, a job doing what she loves, and still be able to talk with her family at home. Though the Eiffel Tower is a scenery a lot of people want to see, a smile on her own face when she looks in the mirror is something that is prettier to Lamkin.