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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All, I'd really like to know what the first year living here was like for any of you willing to share your stories. I know that some people have a fairly easy time of things while others really struggle. Maybe this is posted somewhere else, but I would be nice to have it in one spot.

So if anyone is interested in sharing stories let me know.
 

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There is a book out called "Foreigners in France: Triumphs and Disasters" edited by Joe and Kerry Laredo which has something like 20 different accounts of various expats' early encounters in France. (OK, I'll confess - I'm one of the contributors.) Nice thing is that the foreigners hail from a variety of home countries and they have a real range of experiences - not all positive.

My big experience in the first year here was getting turned down for my carte de séjour (after getting married to a Frenchman) and getting a letter telling me I had 30 days to leave the country. Not exactly the "Welcome to France" I was expecting! But I also started learning about the French tradition of simply ignoring laws that you don't like and figuring things will work themselves out in the long run.

Talk about "in a galaxy long ago and far away..."
Cheers,
Bev
 
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Many years ago I swung a job as English assistant in a French collège, pre-uni. Lodged, dined and wined for free, and paid a decent enough salary to work 8 hours a week, with four day weekends throughout the year. As alternative realities go, it really took the biscuit! Hardly a testing experience, my sole memories are of endless fun. Oh, except when I went to Paris for the European Cup final (soccer), and Leeds lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich :(.

Loved everything about France at the time, the people, the food, the girls, the music, the philosophy of life... everything seems so clearcut, so straightforward, at that age. Different perceptions, shades of grey, appear later of course.

I suppose now looking back I wasn't too naive in my overall perceptions of the place at the time. After many years there altogether, over several stays, there's still a lot more that I like about the place that I dislike, especially compared to the likes of the UK. Despite the fact that there are changes, sadly, that are moving France inexorably towards the Anglo-Saxon way of doing things.

It was a bit of a soft intro, though, first time around. Less so in subsequent visits!
 

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I only spent a year in France, and that was in 2006/2007 and now I'm going to go back get married and live out the rest of my life there. Whoda thought?

So the story goes... a young girl goes to France to study meets a Frenchie and falls in love. Very cliché, I know, but that's what happened. There were also many other things that happened, like culture shock. I remember the first Sunday, I was hungry. Figured I could go to the grocery store and get something to eat, except the grocery store was closed! I ended up eating stuff from a vending machine at the dorm I was staying at temporarily or Turkish toilets! or how cheap the wine was there...

And then there were other little things that really touched me. Like when I was trying to lug my grocery rolly thing up a flight of stairs, and a gentleman offered to help me carry it up, or the lady that yelled out to me telling me to be careful of the giant puddle in front of me (while I was looking at a map), or the fact that everyone I asked for help when i was lost (in my broken french) genuinely tried to help me or how the bums there are actually treated like humans (as opposed to here).

Overall, for me, there were more things I loved about France than hated. Some things were really frustrating, and I'm not sure I had enough time to get used to it, but we'll see as I plan on living there for quite some time....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Bev, I'm going to order the book, but apparently it's hard to come by! Let you know what I think. Thanks frogblogger and diana for your stories. I love to know what brings/keeps people here. My story is a bit longer and a bit tricker but I'll share soon.
 

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Bev, I'm going to order the book, but apparently it's hard to come by! Let you know what I think. Thanks frogblogger and diana for your stories. I love to know what brings/keeps people here. My story is a bit longer and a bit tricker but I'll share soon.
Last time I looked it was still in stock at Amazon (in the UK at any rate). It came out a few years back, and doesn't seem to turn up on the publisher's website. A shame if it has gone out of print, because it really is a nice collection of diverse experiences in France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I spent only one year in Paris, but it was wonderful. I was 18 when I went and it had always been a dream to live there. It was such a learning experience also. I simultaneously had to learn to live on my own, budget, schedule, work, etc..as well as adjusting to another culture. My first experiences were mostly sensory. My second day in France was Bastille day. My roomates from the UK took me to the Place de la Bastille for the celebration. While I was standing in the crowd a random guy came up and gave me this huge, wet kiss! I was scandalized. (hmmm)

I remember the pain au chocolat, the metro, and the city noise. I also remember the green places, museums and wonderful cheese!

I fell in love several times and never wanted to go home. I still wish I never had.
 

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We only came for a year in Paris and we still have about half to go. We came with two children, one of the ecole maternelle age. We didn't need to find an apartment, but we still had to pay rent which is huge. Even though the apartment was supposed to be for families it is not furnished for families, the kitchen is tiny, there is lots of space, they just didn't put in shelves or cupboards or anything like that. We also have a windowless room which apart from adding to the square meters is useless. They could put in a washing machine and a dishwasher or at least shelves - could be a pantry of sorts but NO.
Bureaucracy is nerve wrecking. It took us almost three weeks to enroll our daughter to the maternelle. We are EU,but I still had a very difficult time transferring my unemployment rights and benefits here, even though we have help from my husband's employer we still struggle with bureaucracy. I requested someone who spoke english in advance, no luck there. I went to two meetings about my career options and even though they knew perfectly well I don't stand a chance in hell to get a job for the time period I wanted they still got me to go through the motions. Finally I gave up.
Food is very expensive here, I cook myself and we buy most of the food at Lidl, first few times I went grocery shopping to other supermarkets I spent an impossible amount of money for a weeks worth of groceries - no extravagance.
Weather is very unpredictable and quite windy.
I have generally had good experience with people, they are helpful and kind, especially if you have children.
Still I would be hard pressed to come up with reasons to stay here longer than needed, the ever-present dog poop and irrational bureaucrats, the price of our apartment ...
Sorry for being so negative, maybe now that spring is coming I will change my attitude.
best of luck!
 
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