Looks like I’m moving again. Not too far this time; only from Los Angeles to Long Beach. Thinking about relocating (again), I started to feel a little overwhelmed. Then I laughed when I thought back to when I moved to Paris – I went back to school as an adult to finish my undergraduate degree in a city where I did not know anybody and where I did not speak the language.
Heck, bring on Long Beach! Relocating can be just as scary as it is exciting. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
I moved to Paris six years ago, but it feels like yesterday. I was excited, yet anxious and nervous to make the move. I thought I was prepared; I learned some basic French, reached out to a couple friends of friends who lived in Paris…. Boy was I in for a surprise.
I loved Paris as a tourist, but when I first moved there, I soon learned to hate it. Homework, writing papers, living on a student budget, struggling with everyday tasks such as grocery shopping and banking, or even just having a conversation!
What had I gotten myself into?! I was miserable for the first nine months. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of great, unforgettable moments in those first nine months, but it took nine months for me to really feel like Paris was becoming my new home.
I went from despair to arguably the happiest time in my life.
How I felt connected again:
- I reached out to everybody and accepted every invitation. I was extremely nervous and awkward, AND I needed a social life! I went to a party alone one of my first few weeks in Paris, terrified that I would walk in and not be able to understand one word. I was greeted by a kind (and quite attractive) Frenchman who spoke English fluently. And I went on to meet a handful of amazing people who are to this day, still my friends.
- I asked for help. Living in Los Angeles, prior to moving to Paris, I was very independent. I did what I wanted, when I wanted and didn’t need to rely on anybody. When I moved to Paris, I had to ask for help. Help opening my bank accounts and figuring out how to set up my monthly metro pass. Help finding my way because I left my Paris Pratique at home (cute little map book used before smart phones were common). Help moving my belongings across Pont de l’Alma at midnight (thanks Charlotte!) Paris humbled me…in a good way! And I am so appreciative for what I have and what I used to take for granted (toilet seat covers in Los Angeles… hmmm, actually, toilet seats!)
- I learned French. Ok, well at least I tried. I was studying at an English speaking university so I never became fluent unfortunately. Someday I will – it’s a huge goal of mine. I had the opportunity to take a six-week French immersion class my first summer in Paris – I highly recommend language immersion classes! I learned a lot. And even though I never became fluent, life did get easier the more and more French I picked up. Parlez-vous anglais?
- I got a Coach. My friends back home were all very supportive about my move, but they also could not understand the hardships I was experiencing. I was in Paris, shouldn’t life be an epic romantic cinematic adventure??!! Ha! I was introduced to an amazing woman who coached me through my struggles – I shared with her my bad times and good times in Paris. I laughed with her and cried. During our first session together I told her how miserable I was and how I wanted to move back home. After time, I fell back in love with Paris. And then eventually, I had to leave – my student visa expired and I couldn’t find a job. My coach and I laughed as I now cried because I couldn’t stay in Paris!
- I relaxed and I learned. In the beginning I was so stressed out and lonely and frustrated and this and that. After awhile, I learned to relax and enjoy my new life. This didn’t come naturally. I had to remind myself – take this all in – you never know how long this experience will last – learn from it, the good and the bad. Heck, I’m living in the number one tourist destination in the world I thought – I better start to appreciate it! And I did. Perhaps many glasses of vin rouge helped!
Now that I’m back in Los Angeles, I will be forever grateful for my two years in Paris – the good times and the bad. I learned just how resilient and tenacious I am. I wasn’t lost at all, I was just rediscovering myself on this new journey. I am humbled, stronger, more cultured and well traveled, and I have friends that I can always go visit in a city that I will always love…my home, Paris. Paris, tu me manques!
Hugs and love,