Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Paris:
It is much more culturally rich: great museums, great food at all price ranges, concerts, classic repertory cinema and free mingling and schmoozing by people of all ages. As a fluent French speaker who had been preparing himself for this move for many years I had no problems adjusting.
Don’t be in a hurry to shed your “tourist” label. We sometimes want to become a local so badly that we forget to stop and appreciate the beauty that a foreign place has to offer. Whatever country you’re moving to, there’s someone in the world right now dreaming of visiting it just once in their lives. Respect that fact by taking advantage your own opportunity to explore, including all those wonderful cheesy clichés.
The one thing I was not prepared for was the freezing cold winter. Coming from two years of tropical weather, I’d forgotten how to dress for January. I would have brought a coat!
Yeah, culture shock lasts about a year. I have been through it four times already. I actually think I am addicted to it by now. But life in Paris is very easy to fall in love with, once you've overcome that adaptation period.
I do think I experienced some culture shock yes, I think everyone does to some degree, but it was not crippling nor did it break me down and send me back home. Paris is my home. I honestly don't know any more how to compare my two lives because my life back in the States was still in a stage of formation (university). I do though enjoy here, among other things, the fact that health care is more affordable, that there is more employment security with French labor laws, and that I don't have to rely on owning a vehicle to get from point A to point B or even to get out of town!
Adjusting to French food was a challenge; I’m a vegetarian, and it’s not always easy to find a vegetarian dish that isn’t also heavy in carbs and smothered in cheese, but I’ve found a few good spots.
After having lived most of my adult life in three different countries, I am now better able to appreciate life no matter where I am. I cherish the simple things in life. I enjoy taking in the beauty that surrounds me, connecting with people I meet, and appreciating the experiences and situations that life presents me with. Now that I have returned to living in Paris, I feel that there are even fewer differences than before. Paris has become a multi-cultured and multi-ethnic city and feels more like San Francisco than the Paris I knew back in 1990.
With regards to culture shock and integration, I don’t really think you can prepare. It is hard, but you just have to see it through. Part of the excitement of moving abroad is due to it being a challenge. It’s a good idea to read books on the subject (one of my favourites is “Almost French” by Sarah Turnbull) and meet other expats so that you know you’re not alone and you can all have a whinge together – very cathartic!
At the time of my move, I thought I had made all of the preparations necessary, but I wasn’t ready for all of the surprises that the country had to throw at me! I suppose that is the case with any move, especially one that requires learning a new language. I came to Paris with a beginner’s level of French and worked incredibly hard during Year 1 to get it up to an advanced level. If I could have re-prepared myself, I would have made more of an effort to learn the language in London before I came.
Of course I wasn’t fully prepared for all that awaited me here. With that said, I don’t believe there’s anything I could’ve done differently. The best experiences are rooted in the unexpected.
Every experience was just part and parcel of moving to a society completely different to the one I was used to. I had made a conscious decision to embrace this city, so as frustrating as some things were I wasn’t greatly troubled by it as it was all part of the experience.
The expats I know in Paris are wonderful people. It’s such a diverse and mixed group - there’s a type of person I suppose who takes the risk to get up and move abroad. My friends here are fearless in ways, not afraid to follow their passion and interests, and are globally-minded. They are inspiring, fun, and unique. But be sure to make French friends too! Having a mix a both native French friends and expats is really wonderful.
I definitely had culture shock in the beginning; any change is hard, even good change. I would spend some days angry at France. But Paris is such a pretty place that it is hard to stay mad at it for long!