Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Missing lunch buddies

Two months into my internship, I have yet found a lunch buddy. You know, someone you eat with everyday. I got so used to lunch buddies that I felt so bad eating alone. Now I gradually getting it and actually enjoy eating alone.

My lunch buddies during University time.

I have never faced this kind of awkward situation before. First day into the job, my manager couldn't have lunch with me so I had to go buy my own lunch. One week into the job, nobody invited me to join them for lunch. I didn't know what was wrong, and was very glad to share some lunch moment once a week with a group of friends. But still, eating with co-workers is very different compared to eating with friends.

I waited a while to build up the courage to actually invite some interns to go for lunch. I got rejected over reasons: already had lunch appointment with friends, eat at home, skip lunch, prefer to eat alone ... I decided to bring my own food as I couldn't stand eating sandwich everyday (for me a sandwich is not a meal) and I certainly do not like to eat in a restaurant alone.

A typical French baguette sandwich: sometimes I have to chew so much that my mouth turn sore.

While eating in the company kitchen, I met some people who like me do not have lunch buddies. We got known to eat other and finally made a trip to a restaurant. It turned out ok but it was hard to make a second appointment. One of the them do not want to spend money in restaurant.

Why doesn't France have economy rice store or hawker center? They don't even have a food court!

Slowly these people disappear from the cafeteria, I was found alone again. I used the time to read French newspaper to catch up with some reading and jotted down some vocabularies. The routine got broken as I was making friends with some Indians, but they have gone back to Indian so I'm all by myself.

This week, out of no way, the girl sitting in front of me invited me and my manager to join her for lunch. It didn't work as I had lunch plan already. Still, it is a good start.

I discussed this phenomenon with some friends and I realized that not all French are like that. Hubby was invited over lunch since the first day, and he always eat with his lunch buddies. From my observation, some French enjoy their privacy. One of my managers told me that she enjoys having lunch at home as she can just sit in the patio overlooking her garden. They can effort to eat at home as it is tolerated to spend one and a half hours over lunch.

So now, I eat once or twice with friends during the week, and eat in the company kitchen for the remaining afternoons. I met some people in the kitchen and we struck some nice conversations. In summer, I will probably picnic in the park across the street overlooking a tranquil lake.

Enjoy lunch at the patio, the French really know how to enjoy their life.

Living in France always teaches me different ways of doing things. Eating alone and catching up with some reading, why not?


  1. hey bee ean,

    i am finally online in edinburgh. don't worry about eating alone. in the uk, everyone eats on their desk as it's too expensive to eat outside. most of the time, lunch is only 30mins. yeah, and everyone eats sandwiches. how boring isn't it? but then, they say the same thing about us eating rice everyday!

  2. Anonymous8:00 PM

    hey Bee Ean,

    Even though I have lunch with my colleagues everyday, but we do not often discuss. Most of their topics are about French stuffs, eg actors, TV shows, politics.... gosh I have no sufficient infos to discuss. And they do not always have the patience to explain. Well, sometimes, even I was there, but my mind was thinking of something else.

    BUt if some of them are more curious about Malaysia or Chinese, then we could have good conversations. It depends on the luck.

    So, at times, it does take more courages to be in a foreign culture.

  3. Hi Li Ping,

    Cool for the internet! Well here people kind of spend around 90 minutes for lunch.


    These days I got to eat with some co-workers and when they sensed that I didn't understand the topic, they would explain and try to include me in the conversation. This could only work when there are 2-3 people, but when there is a big group, I felt left out sometimes.

  4. Anonymous8:47 PM

    I have gotten used to eating alone during University days because I seldom eat at the canteen - I bring my own food or I just buy a sandwich.