Why France? Talking with Anne

17 Mar 2011 by fabdestin, 7 Comments »

Happy Saint Patty’s Day! Today we have another amazing guest post from Anne, at Pret à Voyager. In this series, I want to take a look at why people come to France. Everyone has their own personal struggles and triumphs as an expat – but I would love to take a look at patterns and similarities between each individual.

I use Anne’s blog all of the time as a resource when I go to Paris – it’s lovely to see the city from a designer’s point of view! For example, today she posted about busking! Ever heard of it? She also highlights other designers on her series Boarding Pass.

1.)   How did it come about that you moved to France? Did you want to move here? What were your apprehensions?

This is my third time living in France. The first time I was a study abroad student, then I taught English for a year. This time I thought I was going to get a job in France. Ha! Yeah, right! It’s a good thing I found the perfect Master’s program for me – an MA in Global Communications from the American University of Paris.

I never really had apprehensions, but then again, all the blogs and resources online didn’t exist like they do now. Also, I moved around a lot growing up, so I guess it was less scary because of that. But for anyone thinking about taking the plunge, just realize it’s not a walk in the park, but just roll with the punches and you’ll be fine. It makes for great material in writing stories!

2.)   What were your first impressions once you arrived? How did that change as time went on?

The first time I ever stepped foot abroad was my junior year of high school with my family. We stayed with dear family friends in their apartment. Perhaps having the “authentic” experience is what really sold me on this place. Each time I’ve returned though, I think the struggle to find an apartment never ceases to amaze me. Apartments are petite here to say the least, but you learn to love and appreciate that. Now I try to chronicle my impressions of life in Paris through my {Un}Glamorous Paris column, where I try to take a humorous look at the less than perfect sides of living here.

3.)   Do you speak French? How important is language to living abroad?

I’ve been studying French since I was in high school (which was a long time ago now). I don’t know if I’ll ever consider myself 100% fluent, but as I learn the intricacies of the language in an advanced French course I’m currently taking, I’m learning to understand the French a bit more too. Learning a language in school is very different than using it in daily life. While you can easily get by in France from speaking English, for me the true pleasure comes from having exchanges with everyday people here.

4.)   Do you feel integrated into life in France?

When I lived here 8 years ago, I wanted people to think I was French, so I didn’t speak much and was afraid to take risks. Now I fully embrace that I’m an American in Paris (who often gets mistaken for French!). I love going to my regular haunts, and most people know I like to conduct my business in French. I love my crepe man who is Sri Lankan – it’s great speaking with other foreigners because they won’t judge you. For me everyday life is a game, and often a challenge, but that’s where I get the pleasure. As with anywhere I’ve lived, it’s taken me a good year to feel fully settled, but yes, I feel like I have a real life here.

5.)   What do you miss the most about your native country?

The space! It’s funny that the older I get the smaller my apartments get. While I am up to 12m2 (129sf) from last year’s 10m2 (110sf), I miss the wide open spaces of the US. While it can be charming to be quite close to the people sitting next to you at a restaurant here, it’s also nice to have some breathing room. I also really miss Target and Trader Joe’s! Ironically though, you can find most things from home here these days.

 

6.)   What is your favorite thing about living in France?

 

I love the quality of life. It’s taught me to be more balanced. I like that people appreciate taking holiday and vacations (hello, 5-9 weeks per year!), don’t work all the time, spend hours talking over great meals and go to the market every few days. I’m also a huge fan of public transportation.

 

7.)   What is your favorite French wine? I probably could have answered this better 10 years ago, but a Côtes du Rhone is always a safe bet by me. As a designer, I still prefer to shop by prettiest label ;)

Tags: , ,

7 Comments

  1. Linds says:

    Love the series Brenna! I feel like I’m learning so much about all the people whose blogs I follow!

  2. Kristin says:

    I so envy you girls that threw caution to the wind and moved to France!

  3. Katherina says:

    Lovely post and such interesting points. I never thought about it, but now that she mentions – it must be tough to go from big spaces to small rooms. It’s something I’m used to in Europe, and felt a bit uncomfortable with when in the US!

  4. fabdestin says:

    I love that Anne is embracing her Franco-American self! When I first moved here during study abroad – I felt like I went through the same struggles with language. I didn’t want to speak because I didn’t want to reveal my “foreigner” self. Now when people ask me about my accent, I rock it! It’s not going anywhere…and some people even think its cute!

  5. So cool! I actually started an application to that same MA program and then ended up applying for the same program at LSE instead! I just got in today… I wish I could go! I love france too, so much.

  6. Lindsey says:

    Great new series! Everyone’s experience moving to France is so different (mine different from Anne’s, different from yours and the next), it’s helpful to see multiple perspectives!

  7. Risamay says:

    Great idea for a series. I hope to have an opinion and reflections on the experience of moving to France, one of these years. Ah. That would be oh so nice :)

Follow Me!

Follow Me! Follow Me! Follow Me! Follow Me!

Featuring Recent Posts WordPress Widget development by YD