If any place on earth could be likened to heaven, Paris should be at the top of the list. It is a city full of life, owing to its plethora of attractions that leave every visitor overwhelmed. This popular destination, frequently referred to as the City of Love or City of Lights, offers everything from its inexplicable Eiffel Tower to the dazzling Seine River; from art to glamour, it ensures visitors are left mesmerized. The veritable beauty of the entire city has made it a dream of many to live and work here.
Although Paris offers a high quality of life, this doesn’t mean that life here is smooth and perfect. There are pros and cons.
So, here are 10 things I didn’t (and you probably don’t) know about becoming a successful Parisian Expat.
- 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 falls short upon the eventuality. 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, the U.S.A., Australia, and other major European cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, Spain; Naples, Italy; Moscow, Russia; and Berlin, Germany. It is, in fact, the most expensive city in France, commanding high fees on rent, eating out, entertainment, sports, and traveling, thereby making it difficult for expats to have tangible savings during their early stages in Paris. 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 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 the language. 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, 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 invitations to the foreigners at their place of work or school, but this may not come easily. It may not happen until they know you better, at the very least. So, it will be helpful for you, as an individual relocating to Paris alone, to expect some loneliness and homesickness in the beginning. However, to help you overcome this, there are several expat groups in Paris that can help you acclimatize socially.
- It’s Never As Bad As You Think It Will Be
As the popular saying goes, “different strokes for different folks.”
Naturally, not everyone who has lived in Paris had positive reviews about the City. Those people who had a negative experience might have been unable to enjoy being here, perhaps due to the huge difference in the city’s culture compared to the culture they were used to back home, among other things.
I’m happy to inform you, however, that Paris is not as bad as some may suggest. If you have any plans of moving to Paris or 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 points of view may suggest.
Learn to accept the culture
The first thing you should expect when moving to a new place is to meet 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 be the same.
The French society, especially Parisians, are known to be very reticent to those they barely know. Outsiders, therefore, see these Parisians to be bad-mannered, but in actuality, they aren’t. It’s simply a cultural trait. To overcome this barrier, 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 a show of interest in the local language will most likely stir up a friendly response from the locals toward 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, perhaps focus on those that do. 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 have appeal.
- 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 about restaurants and bars while discos are very rare. Simply make do with what the city offers.
- The Importance Of Remembering Your Root
Understanding and adapting to the cultural traditions of your new home as an expat is one sure way to guarantee a smoother transition. This includes partaking in the traditional celebrations of the locals, which could be wedding festivals, national day celebrations, or religious holidays, for example. Such celebrations are full of fun and foreigners or expats should 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 can be detrimental because as a result, they may have little to no knowledge about their own. So, in this regard, the importance of celebrating your home country’s traditions as an expat can’t be overemphasized. It offers your kids the dual privilege of learning two cultures at the same time.
- Cultural exhibition
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, make sure to celebrate your traditional holidays, and involve the kids, invite friends and create lasting memories of your own.
- Knowing What is Right to Do
As an expat, you have basic human rights which permit you to engage freely in social activities, buy and sell legally, and so on. However, you don’t have the green light to do everything. You might ask, “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 to obtain permission would be best to avoid unless you just have to go for it.
- Your Vision Of Who You Want To Be Is Your 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.
From the quote above, you will probably 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 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.
- Who You Are Determines What You Can Have
It’s very common 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 cutest guy or prettiest woman 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 attitude, 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. In order to excel as an expat in Paris, you must back up your hard work with the right attitude towards people, and yourself.
- Don’t Seek Praise. Seek Criticism.
It’s always pleasant and motivating 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. The advisable thing for you to do is to calm yourself in any way that works for you.
Either by taking a deep breath or engaging in any activity that makes you happy, this allows your emotions to take their due course before you finally respond when you are 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.
- The World Gives To The Givers And Takes From The Takers
A giver is someone with an 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 the person who rarely gives. Cultivating the habit of giving as a Parisian expat will help in opening doors of opportunity that will enable you to “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.
- 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 might say that playing by the rules or following the law is the best way to solve the issues you may encounter daily as an expat. I disagree.
Not all problems should be solved by playing by the rules. Let me illustrate my point.
Take, for instance, some pickpocket suddenly filched your wallet containing a reasonable amount of Euro bills from your pocket. Unfortunately for him, you noticed the theft immediately.
Knowing full well that you can apprehend him yourself and get your wallet back immediately, my question is, would you wait on the cops to get him or would you do it yourself?