Kesha: My So-Called Life In France
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- Sharon: Piglet in France
- Jenny and John: Jenny and John in Brittany
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- Anna: Le Voyage Incroyable
- Gill: Blog-Sur-Aude
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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.
I'm a 36 year old artist living in Metz, France. After finishing my MFA at Hunter College in New York City, I decided it was time to leave Brooklyn behind and get some stamps on my passport. I met my husband on my first trip to Paris. It was a whirlwind love affair that culminated in moving to France and getting married—all in less than 18 months. I’ve been living in France since 2004.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I originally started blogging out of frustration and boredom. Moving to any new place can be difficult, but setting up shop in a place where you don’t speak the language or understand the culture takes those problems to a new level. The blog became the place where I could share my experiences with friends and family, but also meet other expats who were in similar situations. Later, MSCLF became a creative outlet where I could practice my writing and storytelling skills.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My absolute favorite blog post is my very first post. Not because it’s especially well crafted or entertaining, but because it’s a totally raw, pitch perfect description of how I felt about France when I first arrived. Luckily, I find France a bit more pleasant now than I did then.
My second favorite post is a much more recent post titled “Top 10 Ways You Know You've Gone Froggy”. It shows how much living in a different country has changed my own outlook and expectations. Clearly, after living in France for almost a decade, I’ve been Frenchified.
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?
Eastern France has about as much in common with Brooklyn as a turtle has in common with a tea kettle. That said, as much as I still miss Brooklyn from time to time, I love my life here in France and have no intention of ever going “home”. I had troubles getting settled and feeling like I belonged here, but France won me over kicking and screaming. Culture shock? I still experience it every day. In fact I’m having some right now with my morning coffee.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in France? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Call me naïve, but I wasn’t at all prepared for how different France would be. I was blindsided by all the tiny differences and the sense of isolation that comes from not speaking the language. If I could do it all over again, I’d learn French first. Like, really learn French, and not just pretend to study.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Should I tell you about the time I got into a fight with the lady at the tabac, or maybe I can share the story about the time I went out partying all night with my Brazilian classmates at the Sorbonne. I can’t even begin to recount all my escapades here. I’m afraid you’ll just have to click over to my blog.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in France?
In short, learn the language, and learn to be flexible, and try as hard as you can not to constantly compare and contrast. It will only drive you insane.
How is the expat community in France? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are many large expat communities in France. Most of them are in the bigger cities, but it seems there are Americans just about everywhere on earth. I’ve managed to find a lovely group of expat friends here, and not just Americans. They’ve been a great resource for settling in and finding my own way of living here in France.
How would you summarize your expat life in France in a single, catchy sentence?
Food, fun, adventure, and more red wine than you can shake a stick at.