If places on earth could be likened to heaven, then the city of Paris should be top on the list of such places. It is a city full of life, owing to its plethora of attractions that leave every visitor overwhelmed. The city, popularly known as City of Love or City of Lights, offers it all from its inexplicable Eiffel Tower to the dazzling Seine River From art to glamour, it ensures visitors are left mesmerized. The enormous beauty of the entire city has made it the dream of many to live and work here.
Although this beauty of a city offers a high quality of life, this doesn’t mean life in the city is all smooth and perfect. It has it’s pros and cons.
So, here are 10 things I didn’t (and you probably don’t) know about becoming a successful Parisian Expat.
1. It’s Never As Good As You Think It Will Be
For all the beauty and attractions that abound the city, some expats still end up regretting their decisions to move to the city. This occurs mainly because their high expectations of the perfect city for relocation turns out to fall short upon relocating there. Here are some essential facts you should know to help avoid any later regrets:
High cost of living
France is a pretty expensive country to live in, with Paris in particular recording a higher cost of living in comparison to Canada, Us, Australia, and some other major European cities like the Madrid and Barcelona cities of Spain, Naples of Italy, Moscow of Russia, Berlin of Germany and so many others. It is, in fact, the most expensive city in France, commanding high fees on rent, eating out, entertainment, sports, and travelling, thereby making it difficult for expats to have tangible amount of savings during their early stages in the city. It is therefore imperative that you draw a monthly budget according to your source of income and take your lifestyle into consideration before deciding on relocating to Paris.
The language barrier
Acclimatizing to the Parisian society for you as an expat will prove extremely difficult if you are not fluent in French. Though quite a good number of Parisians speak English to some extent, they really do not find it convenient communicating in it. It will be of utmost benefit to you if you take up a French course before relocating to Paris.
Difficulty in making Parisian friends
Foreigners very often consider the French especially the Parisians to be rude people, and this is most likely attributed to the fact that the Locals don’t smile upon having eye contact with foreigners. Though polite to tourists, they (Parisians) most likely won’t be that friendly to you all the time. Some locals would offer friendly invitation to the foreigners at their place of work or school, but this may not come easily. It may happen until they know you better at least. So it will be helpful for you as an individual relocating to Paris alone, to expect early stages of loneliness and homesick feelings. However, to help you overcome this early setback, there are several expat groups in Paris that should help you acclimatize socially.
2. It’s Never As Bad As You Think It will Be
As the popular saying goes, “different strokes for different folks.”
In the same light, not all who have been to Paris have positive reviews about the City. Those set of people without positive reviews are those that fail to partake in the extreme happiness and joy of being in the city of Paris which could be due to the huge difference in the city’s culture compared to the culture they are used to back at home and as such they experience difficulty adjusting.
But, I’m glad to inform you that Paris is not as bad as you may be thinking or as negative reviews may suggest. So, if you have any plans of moving to Paris or you know anyone who does, here are some basic facts you need to know to ensure your experience in Paris is not as bad as you may think or as those negative reviews may suggest.
Learn to accept the culture
The first thing you should expect when moving to a new place is meeting a people with a different way of life. You may have lived and gotten used to a culture where people are very friendly, even to strangers, but that doesn’t mean you should expect every other society to practice the same culture. The French society, especially Parisians, are known to be very reticent to people they barely know. Outsiders therefore see these Parisians to be bad-mannered, but in all actuality, they aren’t. It’s simply a cultural trait. To overcome this barrier, you should be extremely polite to the locals, use French greetings like “bonjour” when you enter a public place like a saloon, and “au revoir” when leaving. Such show of interest in their local language will most likely stir up a friendly attitude from the locals towards you. You may also find that the times shops open and close in Paris may be different from the times you are used to back home. But if you can see and accept the city as your new home for as long as you live there and adjust to the way of living of the people, then you will quickly feel at ease and relaxed in your new environment.
Focus on the things you like
Rather than dwell on things that don’t arouse your interest or satisfy your taste, I suggest you focus on those that are of interest to you. As a foreigner, you may not like some French delicacies like the “Sacré bleu!” for instance. You should find that delicacy of your choice or that which you can substitute for it, instead of hating that which doesn’t appeal to your taste.
3. Accept That You Can’t Have It All
One of the facts you need to accept in order to have a smooth transition is that you can’t have everything you wish for as an expat. For instance, your desire for a variety of vegetarian options as a Parisian expat may never be met as there are rarely vegetarian options available in Parisian restaurants. Also, you may never consider life in Paris to be fun if you are the clubbing type, as Paris is all restaurant and bars while discos are very rare. So you just have to make do with what the city offers.
4. The Importance Of Remembering Your Root
Understanding and adapting to the cultural traditions of your new home as an expat is one sure ways to guarantee a smooth transition. This includes partaking in the traditional celebrations of the locals, which could be wedding festivals, national day celebrations, or religious holidays and so on. Such celebrations are always full of fun and very important for foreigners or expats to get involved. However, it’s important you maintain your own cultural traditions as an expat while living in a foreign land for the following reasons:
Keep your expat kids acquainted with their original culture
For your expat kids growing up in another culture could be detrimental because as a result, they may have little to no knowledge about their original cultural traditions. So in this regard, the importance of celebrating your traditions as an expat can’t be overemphasized. It offers your kids the dual privilege of learning two cultural heritage at the same time.
A traditional celebration for an expat serves as a platform for showcasing the cultural heritage of your original home to your host nation and other expats as well. It will attract people with different cultural heritages to celebrate with you thereby paving the way for intercultural exchange.
So always look forward to your forthcoming traditional holidays on the calendar, and start preparation for an exciting celebration. Do well to involve the kids, invite friends and create lasting memories of your own.
5. Knowing What is Right to Do
It is very important for you as an expat to have basic human rights which permit you to engage freely in social activities, buy and sell legally, and so on. However, as an expat, you don’t have the green light to participate in everything or every activity You might want to ask then, how do I know what activity I ought not to do or get involved in? The answer is simple, any activity or action that requires you obtaining permission should best be avoided unless you’re really dying to go for it.
6. Your Vision Of Who You Want To Be Is Your Only Greatest Asset
“Your vision of where or what you want to be is the greatest asset you have. Without having a goal it's difficult to score.”
— PAUL ARDEN.
Looking at the above quote, you will agree with me that you are the biggest motivation for yourself.
In other words, you must always have goals as an individual especially as an expat if you want to succeed in what you do and allow your goals to determine how you live your life. Challenge or always compete with yourself and you will be so unstoppable at what you do that everyone would want to identify with you. And, remember that this has nothing to do with ego.
7. Who You Are Determines What You Can Have
It’s very common for you to hear people say I want to be successful in life, I want to be among the richest people on earth, I want to marry the most cutest guy or prettiest lady out there. But very often they fail to ask themselves one important question, do I have the right attitude to achieve that which I desire?
“Your altitude, they say, determines your productivity”.
Your hard work, though very important in your quest for success, will probably count for nothing without the right attitude towards people and a positive attitude towards whatever work you do. So to excel as an expat in Paris you must backup your hard work with the right attitude towards people.
8. Don’t Seek Praise. Seek Criticism.
It’s always pleasing and motivational when you get positive reviews for something you did, but it might interest you to know that criticism is just as motivational as praise if accepted and handled correctly. One major difference between a successful man and a man who failed is that special attribute of the successful man which allows him to strive under criticism. Although it’s never an easy feat, it is always rewarding to calmly accept criticisms and handle your critics in the right way. Here are some ways to handle criticisms and critics:
Never respond immediately to a criticism, doing so will only cause you to say or do something you are probably going to regret later. Immediate response could prompt you into defending yourself or lashing back at your critics, neither of which is an advisable option while responding to criticism. So the advisable thing for you to do is to calm yourself in any way that works for you. Either by taking a deep breathe or engaging in any activity that makes you happy, this allows your emotions to take it’s due cause before responding when you are now in a much more relaxed mood.
Appreciate your critics no matter how harsh or reticent they may sound by simply saying “thanks for your feedback”. This sort of response is most certainly going to catch your critics off guard because they most probably won’t be expecting you to respond so politely. By appreciating your critics, you are displaying a high level of maturity, a top act of professionalism which in turn motivates you to strive better.
9. The World Gives To The Givers And Takes From The Takers
A giver is someone with unquestionable willingness to meet other people’s needs and help them in achieving their goals, while a taker is that person who looks forward to receiving from others. One interesting thing about being a giver is that you never lack, and will always find more favor among people than that person who rarely gives. So cultivating the habit of giving as a Parisian expat will help in opening doors of opportunity that will enable you get back from the society. So which would you rather be: a giver or a taker? See what happened when we shared our Social Media Marketing Strategy for free.
10. If You Can’t Solve A Problem, It’s Because You’re Playing By The Rules
As an individual, especially a Parisian expat, you are bound to encounter problems in your day to day life and how you tackle these problems matters a lot. Normally, you would want to say that going by the rules or following the law is the best way to solve all the problems you may encounter daily as an expat, but I disagree with you.
Not all problems should be solved playing by the rules, and let me illustrate my point.
Take for instance some pickpocket guy suddenly picked your wallet containing a reasonable amount of Euro bills from your pocket but, unfortunately for him, you noticed immediately.
Now knowing fully well that you can apprehend him yourself and retrieve your wallet back immediately, my question then is, would you wait on the cops to get him or would you do it yourself?
Over to you!
If you like or want to contribute your thoughts to this article, kindly drop your comments below
Do you want to receive some awesome articles about the joys, challenges, and lessons learned from expatriation adventures in Paris every week?
Don’t worry, you can unsubscribe at anytime.
- Champs-Élysées Film Festival: 6 of the greatest cinematic works
- 30 Life Lessons Expats Learn But Keep Forgetting
- 7 Best Habits to Adopt For A Fulfilled Life in Paris.
- 22 Great Questions To Ask Your Future French Boss
- Newcomers To Paris: 10 Things You Can start doing now that will help You in about five years.
Latest from Michael Bahati
- Internship Opportunities: Become An Expats Paris Projects' Champion
- Expatriation: When your mental health starts declining & What to do about it.
- Paris-based Expat Influencers Reveal The Podcasts That Make Them Smarter
- Champs-Élysées Film Festival: 6 of the greatest cinematic works
- 30 Life Lessons Expats Learn But Keep Forgetting