I’ve just started my seventh year in Paris and there are a few things I’d call life lesson that I’ve been learning. I’ve summarised them into five points that I’d love to share with you in this post.
So here are the five life lessons I’ve learned as a Parisian expat.
1. Don’t wait for the “perfect time.”
Firstly, you need to stop waiting for the “perfect time” to make your next move. “Perfect timing” or "Perfect opportunity” is a fiction and doesn’t exist.
If you keep waiting for things, then might wait forever for them.
There will never be a perfect time to leave your job, start from scratch and make your dreams come true.
Life-changing decisions always require an effort and a creation of some hassle.
Do you dream of moving to a city like Paris and start living here for as long as you want?
Or do you just want to travel and catch fun?
Stop dreaming and act, you only have now and tomorrow is not guaranteed!
Yes, the time is now, that’s how quickly life moves.
Take a long break from your job or a sabbatical leave and go wherever you want to.
Or you could take a shorter break like a language-learning vacation to another city, a “work travel” program, or a volunteer position.
You just need to plan well financially.
Are you able to afford the trip? Do you have enough to start over?
Regarding the nay-sayers in your life who usually express negative or pessimistic views about your dream — always have it in mind that people who are too weak to follow their own dreams will always try to discourage yours.
You grow up in unexpected ways when you embark on a journey filled with uncertainty.
2. Practice the Balancing Act
Balance is vital, regardless of your professional or personal situation. Life itself is a continuous balancing act, and focusing too much on one thing can destroy you.
When you have just moved abroad, creating a balanced life will be harder than you are used to- after all, it’s a new environment.
Most expats who move to start a new career will give it all at first: a new job in a new country is an opportunity to have a fast-track/amazing career and make good money.
Falling into a routine that prioritises career goals without other aspects of life can wear even the strongest person down.
Productivity isn’t a bad thing but remember to balance it out with other aspects of your life - Have fun with your friends and family, create a “Me” time, and stop to smell the roses.
Practising a balancing act will make most of your regular days feel awesome, and the most of your stressful days feel convenient.
That's why the Expats Paris Tuesday afterwork drinks are like an important moment for me. That's where I get to meet new people and develop friendships.
3. Normal? What’s Normal?
Living in Paris, like in every other foreign place, makes you realise that what you consider to be “normal” only means culturally or socially accepted.
The French culture is different, and your notion of normality will soon fall apart.
When you first arrive in Paris, the new way of doing things will seem exciting, and you will be very inquisitive about Parisians everyday activity.
It becomes too much after a while, and you might struggle to adapt to the different changes. Each day becomes an exercise in adapting to and understanding the Parisian culture.
Their way of driving is different, Greetings are different, work and play attitude are different, time itself might seem different.
Because of all these differences, you start seeing Parisians as a little weird, maybe irritating, and find fault with just about anything.
You will probably start appreciating how life back home is.
Finally, all of these differences make up one of the best things about being a Parisian expat.
You’ll be able to look at life from another point of view and appreciate these differences (and similarities) again.
You stay engaged, learn something every single day and in fact get to know yourself better.
That’s the new normal!
4. Learn how to ask for help
Amazingly, the simplest task that you’re used to can become a huge challenge when living in a city like Paris.
Things like knowing the right train or bus to take, processing paperwork, finding the right word to say, and ordering for a pain au chocolat can become a big challenge.
You’ll find it difficult to understand what a native Parisian tells you in French.
These difficulties will teach you to be patient, though, and you'll swallow your pride knowing that asking for help is not a bad thing- in fact, it becomes a healthy habit.
The best thing is to make friends with the locals and other expats. You’ll discover that they are amazing people and almost always ready to help.
You’ll discover that they are amazing people and almost always ready to help.
My book consumption is too low, but I also think it’s improved over the past 2 years. For any of life’s challenges, there is an amazing book that gives great insights. Parisian libraries offer vast and way-too-varied collections of books that contain wisdom and give a better understanding of Paris, France and the world as well as things that surround us. In these bibliothèques, you’ll find yourself in troves of history and art. My Parisian life is turning me into a Lifelong learner who gets into a library - even for a few minutes - to read a chapter of a book I’d pick randomly, put it back and go for my next meeting.
I was actually told that many older libraries in Paris are closed to the public and unless you are a student or professor of art or history (and have a valid library card), you won’t be let in.
Living in Paris exposes you to knowledge and there’s no way to escape from that if you're ready to learn.
I’m a slow learner and reader, but happy and grateful for having been granted - by the gods - a fortunate opportunity to live in a city that avails its citizens with means for accessing knowledge without a hassle.
I’m learning to discover the power of knowledge found in books and that’s an epiphany Paris has brought me.
Bonus: Learning to let go
Living in Paris has taught me one of the most important life lessons of letting go and go on with my life.
The idea of accepting the truth about certain things and be thankful for what’s happening in my life or just focusing only on the things I can change are some of the important lessons I’ve learned since I got to Paris.
Over to you now…
When did you move abroad?
Are there important life lessons that you think have had a huge impact on the way you currently live your life?
Let’s have a chat down in the comments.
Image source: Pixabay