Few things in life will be as challenging as picking up and moving overseas. As someone who likes to take a risk every now and then, I figured why not move to be with Tom? And so I did, leaving my U.S. life behind for a new one in France. The decision to move wasn’t a difficult one at all, but is life always easy abroad? Absolutely not, but it isn’t without its rewards. Here are the reasons why I love being a foreigner in France.
Here’s why I love being an expat in France:
- Cultural learning: I discover something new about French culture multiple times each day. Whether it’s a new word, custom, food or something else, learning about all things French keeps me on my toes! I get excited like a little kid to go to the market and do other “normal” French things. And that’s definitely good.
- Something to talk about: Living abroad makes for good conversation. When you catch up with someone from home (and say you live in France) or meet someone new (and say you’re American), people always want to know more. So whether it’s talking about America or inspiring people to come visit France, I’m happy to talk to you! Even if small talk isn’t really a thing.
- Self-discovery: You learn things about yourself (most of them good). In my case, I learned that I can make a living NOT doing the 9-5 in corporate America in a foreign country by not settling for the norm. If I hadn’t made the jump, would I still be in NYC? Would I be married? I can’t say I’d be happy if I never tried to push myself. What else did I learn? That the French really aren’t rude and they don’t hate Americans either!
- New personality traits: You discover the importance of patience. With the French bureaucracy in particular, a healthy dose of patience should be a required daily medicine leading up to your move overseas. Maybe yoga and daily meditation would help you to prepare for being an expat in France as well. Also, the natural politeness of the French language has probably seeped into my regular personality and I find myself saying a lot of thanks and have a nice days in English.
- Shift in perspective: Little annoyances from home seem petty when your biggest problem is no longer what to wear. Instead you have navigating the bureaucracy to deal with and other cultural obstacles that put things in perspective. Living abroad also exposes you to a whole new set of social and political problems you might not otherwise know about. Instead of focusing on where the grass is greener, the focus for me has shifted to enjoying the moment and appreciating the now.
- New you: You can reinvent yourself. Since there’s probably no chance you’ll run into someone you know from home, feel free to be that person you’ve always wanted to be. Or that person who doesn’t have to dress up for any special reason. No one will know any better. I’m sure my neighbors love my sloppy dog walking clothes! And old NYC neighbors wouldn’t recognize me since I haven’t put on a suit once since being here (nor did I bring one!)…
- Travel galore: Living outside of North America (particularly in Europe) puts a part of the world that you’re probably not overly familiar with at your fingertips. Take advantage and explore away! Favorite trip? Corsica, hands down.
- Renewed sense of confidence: Picking up and moving overseas and proving to yourself that you can survive out of your element instills a sense of pride that you wouldn’t get in the same environment back home. Proving to yourself that you can overcome challenges both big and small is a nice confidence boost and helps when you have a bad day.
- Language fun: When you make a fool out of yourself, it’s not because you’re dumb. It’s because you’re the American, so it’s OK if you botch French. You’re not French. All is forgiven! Phew!
- The food: France is a culinary delight and even though I’m not a foodie per se, I have to say I’ve developed a deep appreciate for good eats. Where else can you get amazing bread and cheap wine and cheese?? And macarons to die for!!