For a little over two years, I've called Paris home. But since Brexit I've not only lost faith in my countrymen, but possibly my right to live in France. I'm three years short of citizenship and even the somewhat daunting idea of being a Brexit-bride isn't an option.
Despite frenzied speculation, the idea that all the Brits living in France and vice versa will have to simply swap places seems unlikely. Or at least, we hope.
While our two cultures are strong (and often conflicting), there are several habits - like crusty bread into perfectly baked Camembert - that permeate English skin.
Here are the top five things French culture has instilled in me, for good. Brexit or not.
1. Les terrasses
Nothing equates to the first sip of rosé in the peachy sun, and Paris is set up with terraces to greet the after-work masses. While the linear form and tiny tables might seem uncomfortable, there's a coziness that you won't find anywhere else. Just be careful not to cross the invisible lines between bar terraces - bars can get a fine if a foot stool is poking into the pavement.
When the wine and company is good, expect an eternal hangover in summer. For when there's sun, there's always a good reason to have just one (more) glass of rosé.
2. Cutting cheese the right way is a genuine dilemma
For those who aren't into dairy, France is deeply wasted on you. But then you probably know that. There's nothing that the French love more than having a meal of the classics: cheese, wine and bread.
The subject of how to cut cheese is one that the French often debate. Soft or hard, round or triangle - each is treated differently. Once half is eaten, cheese with rind must be sliced a different way to ensure that the last portion doesn't have too much crust. Expect to make several pauses and attempts with the knife before making an executive decision.
3. Bread mopping & talking about food while eating food
Something you notice, and come to do, is talk about food all the time. Especially when eating. A mouthful of foie gras could lead to thoughts of that excellent entrecôte you had the other week. A sweet brioche undoubtedly recalls the perfect financier you devoured in Honfleur. Because let's face it - there's not much more to life than enjoying every bite.
The French have a verb dedicated to the act of cleaning your plate with bread: saucer. This is a serious business. Bread is the essential counterpart and it's vital to save enough to saucer at the end of the meal. If you don't, someone will be poised to mop up so no drop of goodness is wasted.
4. Making an evening out of any outdoor space
Europeans in general know how to make the most of Mother Nature. When the summer weather hits, you can guarantee flocks will head to the greener areas to spend evening with a blanket and some wine.
From The Jungle Book-esque Buttes Chaumont to Square du Vert-Galant on the tip of Ile de la Cité, or the buzzy Canal Saint Martin, there are endless possibilities to take a bottle, saucisson and a group of friends. Breath-taking backdrops and a cost-effective night out.
5. The art of French kissing
Not the one that intrigued you when you were 14, but la bise. Cheek kissing has become increasingly popular in Britain; despite the fact it causes great stress to anxious English folk. While the French don't have the problem of hesitation, they do have to be down on exactly how many bises it's appropriate to give. CombiendesBises.com is a site where the nation can vote on how many kisses they give, as well as which side of the cheek they start from. This can range from the classic two, up to a baffling five kisses in some regions.
It's a huge part of French etiquette to faire la bise to everyone when arriving at a social occasion. This takes both physical gymnastics and time. Repeat for every new person to arrive, and again when you leave.
Pay attention to sharp objects: namely, cheekbones and glasses. I can't count how many times I've wounded people with a poorly-angled kiss.
While this is all a bit long, adhering to these rules ensures a bit comfort in social situations.
No-one can predict the repercussions of Brexit. I only know that I'll do whatever it takes to be able to stay in this country - close to the man I love, the friendships I've formed here. Even if that means properly mastering the passive subjunctive.
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