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Janice: A Year In France

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in France makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to France, etc.

I am a writer--fiction and non-fiction. Janicemacdonald.com. I was born in England, but have lived in the United States-mostly on the west coast-for years. I came to France in March 2013. I’ve always been interested in France, in the culture, people, language, and decided it was time to put a long-time dream into action.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I started blogging as a way to keep friends and family updated on my life over here, but also as a way to look at life here in a more thoughtful way--which tends to happen when I write rather than just observe. Or perhaps in addition to just observing!

Do you have any favorite blog entries entry of yours?

Learning french at the super U

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?

In many ways, my life in France feels similar to life in California. I think this is mostly because I have a routine--I write for several hours every day, walk--either in the morning or evening--and, when I’m not working, spend time with friends. The biggest difficulty for me and the thing that reminds me on a daily basis that this is not my home is the language. I think more fluency would make an enormous difference.

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 think I was fairly well prepared. Perhaps I would have tried to learn a bit more about my accommodations beforehand, in fact I’m sure I would, but things have a way of working out even if not quite in the way you imagine.

Since, I’m not part of a couple and didn’t know many people when I first arrived, I’d anticipated feeling lonely at times and, possibly, homesick. I do think it’s probably easier to have someone-a spouse or partner-with whom to share the experience, but I’ve found Skype and Facebook invaluable. Nightly Skype chats with friends and family in the States are another part of my daily routine.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us? 

One that only seems funny in retrospect was trying to pay the highway toll with an American credit card and not understanding the response on the screen while a line of cars formed behind me. Definitely stressful.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in France? 

  • Learn French
  • Don’t talk about the way things are done in the country you’re from.
  • Don’t criticize France and the French way of life--especially not to the French.

How is the expat community in France? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

Both in the Dordogne, where I spent a couple of months, and here in Languedoc, I’ve met friendly and helpful ex-pats. If your French is limited, having people to talk to in your native language is an enormous source of comfort.

How would you summarize your expat life in France in a single, catchy sentence?

Très bien!

Ruben Barbosa

"After work I enjoy meeting other Brazlian expats offline. We go for a beer together and it feels like home. Thanks InterNations."

Verona Torres

"The idea to connext expatriates in Strasbourg fits perfectly to the city. Both are truly international."

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