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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.
Hi, I’m Miranda, 27 years old, from Melbourne, Australia. I have been back and forwards to France since I completed a student exchange in high school. I moved to Lyon for one year in 2008 as part of a university international program and I have since returned to complete further studies here. I’ve been back in Lyon for a little over a year now.
I’m a Francophile who is also passionate about travel in general and who loves literature, photography and activities in the great outdoors, particularly hiking and kayaking.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I began blogging in late December 2013. There were several reasons for wanting to share content online. I have referred to lots of blogs in the past for information and advice and found them very useful. I generally prefer well written blogs to travel guides because the information is able to be updated more regularly and there are fewer restrictions in terms of the length of the articles and the number of related images. Starting my own blog was about giving back and contributing to this dynamic online community. I love receiving feedback from people who have tested a place or activity that I have mentioned and who have had an enjoyable experience. It’s really rewarding connecting people with common ideas and interests.
On a personal note, blogging gives me a reason to get out and explore the city. Often when you live in a place its possible to become a bit blasé and to pay less attention to your surroundings – writing about Lyon keeps me aware and in the loop.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite entries tend to be the ones that I write based on photos that I’ve managed to capture successfully (at least by my own standards), for example Lyon a Little Differently.
The blog statistics show that the most popular posts are the ones that include the word ‘love’. No matter where you are in the world, everyone likes a good love story. I guess it’s the same as what they say for laughter, it transcends language barriers, love is universal. I quite like The Pasty Pickup Line.
Otherwise, I really like the comics about my French language faux pas and I hope that people find them funny.
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?
Wow my life here is different in so many ways that it’s impossible to describe them all. Some basic differences: I don’t need to drive here because I can take public transport everywhere; I tend to buy my groceries from local markets rather than the supermarket; there is no beach in Lyon (I really miss this about Melbourne).
Yes, adapting to my new life did take time and it still does, there is just not the same ease of knowing how the system works (particularly when it comes to taxes or all things medical). Back home I know where to go for certain things, here I need to research services and companies and to read up about how things work. Fortunately I didn’t experience culture shock as I had lived in France previously, but there are always times when things catch me by surprise or when I feel homesick. Weekends can be a little tough seeing people out and about as a family and knowing that my own family is so far away.
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 that I was as prepared as I could possibly be trying to organize things from afar with an 8 to 10 hour time difference. I don't think that there is anything that I would necessarily change, I would perhaps just start getting ready a lot earlier to avoid stress and try and get in touch with a fellow expat living in the country.
Knowing at least one person is a big help, even if it’s just the idea of not being completely alone. Lyon has a really great city ambassador program so it's easy to get in touch with locals.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Hmmm, I can’t think of any particularly funny experience. I guess most of the confusion that can be quite amusing comes from things getting lost in translation. By French standards I’m often too informal with people – it’s a cultural and linguistic thing.
Which tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in France?
- Keep an open mind – as it is often said: not better, not worse just different.
- Deal with problems sooner rather than later. I have a bad tendency to put off admin and this can lead to not so pleasant surprises and additional fees for late payments.
How is the expat community in France? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I can’t speak for the whole of France. Paris was wonderful; you can almost choose not to deal with any French people if you don’t want to. There is such an international buzz. The expat community in Lyon seems a little smaller. Every year in September there is an influx of exchanges student, but finding people who stay on and settle for a longer period is a little tricky. As a translator and French speaker I haven’t necessarily sought out fellow expats, my focus is on becoming more integrated in life here by spending time with the locals. However, Facebook has been wonderful for finding expat groups and connecting with people.
How would you summarize your expat life in France in a single, catchy sentence?
Hmmm, difficult. An aesthetically pleasing adventure. And I’d like to quote a phrase from author José Saramago (which featured in the recent film Enemy) that I think is particularly fitting: “Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered”.