Aga: Shopaholic From Home
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to France, etc.
My name is Aga and I am a Pole. Since my university I have always loved to travel and discover new places but more then that I loved to explore different cultures and lifestyles, learn what is important for other nations and what values they have. Learn the good from them… That is why once I finished my studies in Poland I went to the UK and lived & worked in London for over 6 years. After that I came back to Poland and stayed there just a couple of years working in a beautiful Cracow. I loved it but my heart called me to Lyon! That is why I have moved here at the beginning of 2015 and I am loving it all!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I tried blogging earlier with my shopaholicfromhome website as I love savvy shopping and fashion, online marketing and I wanted to learn more about online space and tools like WordPress. Since I moved to Lyon, I got completely passionate about the city and France. I wanted to learn more about it, discover it better, understand and fit well here among French. That is why I have started exploring Lyon by walking with the camera and taking photos, by reading online about the history and places to see, things to do. I found it so interesting that I could not keep this for myself and that is why I started to share it all with others. I wanted to present my honest experience and observations & show how wonderful Lyon & France is. I have too many ideas and cannot keep them quiet…
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Well, the longer I am here, the more I love it, the better I know the place and the more ideas I have. So there are few exciting projects always to come! So far, I do love my 25 reasons on why you should choose Lyon over Paris then the Mini Lyonnais Cookbook I have created with the top 20 Lyonnais recipes and the post about Specialties of Lyonnais Cuisine and Specialties of Polish Cuisine actually!
Tell us about the ways your new life in France differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I love it here thanks to the people I am with who are really making it easy, enjoyable and great for me to be here. I love discovering new things and learning. The only thing which is very difficult for me is that I haven’t spoken French before so I need to learn it first in order to find a job. I haven’t had any culture shock as I am always mentally prepared that when going to the other country you need to be open and tolerant rather than stuck with your lifestyle. You need to learn about the new lifestyle and respect it at least, adjust when possible. So I knew it’s going to be different… interesting…
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in France? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was prepared that I need to adapt and learn more about France as I haven’t had any previous experience with the French lifestyle. So I tried to stay flexible. So far I really like it so I wouldn’t change anything; well I really and truly regret I have never learnt French! I would love to be able to speak it. Well, everything happens in its time and it seems now is the time to learn French…
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I don’t know really; there are many small and silly things with language misunderstandings which I make on a regular basis. The last time, for example, we went to the cinema to watch American Sniper. This was an original version movie so in English with the French subtitles. I was trying to look at the French words hoping to recognize any new ones I learned. It was quite difficult to follow so at the end I was a bit confused and asked my friend why they made so many references to the Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, and why they didn’t use the capital letter for his name, how rude of them? Cause in the subtitles, I could see that the word ‘putin’ being used so many times! So actually it was not putin but ‘putain’ and it is their very common swear word which I have already heard few times… but never seen it written… so I had my ‘blonde moment’ or can I call it now my ‘expat moment’!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in France?
Start learning French, read some useful expat blogs and forums to get essential and up to date info and others’ observations about living in France and the particular city you are planning to live in. I tend to find them very helpful as I could find any answer to my questions, sometimes very detailed about the area I live in. Also, depending on what your goal is, sign up to social group and take part in events among your local community to practice French or with expats to maintain your traditions. But mostly be open to try new things and don’t get scared of the French (funny, open, strange & happy) lifestyle!
How is the expat community in France? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I have been pleasantly surprised to find out how big the French and especially Lyonnais expat community is. There are few expat organizations active in Lyon which organize events on regular basis. There are meetups organized by smaller groups of individuals which you can join easily. For me, attending a French Course is the best way to get to know new people.
How would you summarize your expat life in France in a single, catchy sentence?
Your Home is Where Your Heart Is! J’adore Lyon!