If French friends prove too difficult to make, there are always plenty of expatriates from all around the world based in Paris. Online expatriate communities, expatriate meet up events, Anglophone volunteering activities or volunteering events for the associations that cater to the Anglophone community present a range of opportunities to meet new people who may coincidentally be in the same boat.
As for the French language, I would strongly advise to brush up on your French before you arrive. I spent a year studying French intensely (while working full time in Australia to save up for my move) and it definitely paid off. Take some French courses when you arrive as well to get you in the swing of things. There are many to choose from. The mairie of each arrondissement also run their French language courses that are by far the most cost-effective. They are designed to help immigrants integrate into the French society and welcome people of all backgrounds and levels. Being able to comfortably express yourself in French and being able to understand what others are saying will help you get through those frustrating moments in the future I can assure you.
As for the space, well that’s inevitable in Paris. The good thing about ‘living in the past’ and appreciating a life that is simpler is that 25 square metres will eventually translate to a ‘good sized’ studio. Alternatively, moving into the Parisian suburbs is another option. Renting or buying will be less expensive in the suburbs. You might even be able to score a little garden while still being fairly close to Paris. Rent in central Paris is not cheap, there’s no way around it but then again, with the City of Light at your doorstep, why would you need to spend a fortune on staying indoors..? There are sunset strolls across the beautiful bridges over the Seine, picturesque Parisian parks to read your book in, winding cobblestone paths of Montmartre to wander around, some of the world’s best museums down the road, all those incredible boulangeries, patisseries and restaurants you could imagine and, some of the most breathtaking views you could ever wish for.
When I first arrived in Paris, I only planned to stay for a year. Then I met my French partner and now it appears that I will be staying here for much longer than a year. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how long you live in Paris. It is a place that will touch your heart and change your perspective on life regardless of whether you are staying for a month, a year or forever.
When it is time to leave, I know I will be sad to end my time in Paris. But on the other hand, I will have experienced so much and gotten to know Paris so well that there will be no regrets. In retrospect you tend to regret the things you never did rather than the things you did.
Plus, well you know what they say: “we’ll always have Paris…”
Or more appropriately, “I’ll always have Paris”.
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