Back in 2008, I left New York to start a new chapter of my life here in Paris, France. Time passes by quickly when you are building a new life from scratch, learning a new language and getting immersed in a whole puzzle of a new culture. My move to France was a personal choice. Being officially a foreigner or an expatriate is a common thing nowadays don’t you think? I think most of my friends have lived abroad and most times we all experience the same things.
Personally, when I left New York things were going well and I did not leave because things were not working out. I loved my neighborhood in Brooklyn, I had a career an excellent circle of friends and an amazing city life. When I moved to a new continent it was for a chance at love and discovering the mystery of the French lifestyle. Not everyone gets invited to Paris like that! With that said, the adventure turned out to be a series of ups and downs.
As Google's CFO, Patrick Pichette said; - ''Life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade offs''.
It can be very challenging to make new acquaintances and the key is to have lots of patience. It took me several years to stop comparing cultures constantly. Now I make remarks in a more objective way because I see both sides of the coin. For example, a conversation about French and American cinema can turn into a whole debate with both sides being criticised to death. Back on getting acquainted to a culture, it takes time to gain understanding and insight. I believe recognizing that there is no right way of doing things one way, will help release stress. Yes, lots of stress. When you know you will have to adapt to new situations in a new country, this should not be taken as a stressful but an opportunity.
Living abroad in Europe makes it affordable to travel around. This is one of my favorite things about living here. Also having double the time allowed for vacation is a plus. Geographically speaking, I consider France is well located in regards to my travel interests. It takes me the same amount of time to go home in the Caribbean as it is to travel to Singapore. It's also is very good for the pocket since I won’t break the bank if I travel to Asia or even Australia. With the perks, come the inconveniences of dealing with communication barriers and other issues that can take the best out of you. Ex. administration hassles (always being reminded that you are a foreigner) are one of these. Everything takes soooo long here. I still cringe when I think about the four years of countless meetings and paperwork it took me to get my French passport and one year of expensive driving classes to get my French driving permit (my American one was not acceptable).
Living abroad is one of the most satisfying things I believe I’ve done, setbacks and all. It has altered who I am. As a child I was so curious of what was beyond my little island in the Caribbean. It is a great place to live but it is only so big. I remember looking at the blue sky and imagining the same blue clouds from other locations: temples, mountains and beaches. Even my old boyfriends would tell me ‘’you’ll never be happy if you stay living here’’.
The corners of my former life have pushed so far and I have so much left to go.