When I moved to Paris, seven years ago, I was ready to embark on a remarkable adventure, which I knew would be engraved in my heart probably for the rest of my life.
It was an exciting feeling to arrive in Paris and see the city of light – a modern city with an amazing history. I will never forget when I first took the metro. It was like a completely new world. It was indeed loved at first sight. I knew I loved this city and I’d love to live here for an extensive amount of time.
It was dark in the evening, the Christmas bulbs gave the whole city its lights. It was shining so bright, almost like daytime. The streets were very busy, with different people shopping from one shop to another. I was enthrall seeing The Palais Garnier, which is the Paris Opera House, and so many other remarkable landmarks.
So many things around me were pretty new. New Metro stations, new currency, New language (well, I spoke a little French then, but still Parisians have their own expressions than I had to learn), no friends around, new cuisine, new, new, new…
I mean, almost everything was new.
It was exciting to feel like I was on a completely new planet.
I loved it, though it felt a little weird as I didn’t fully understand what was happening around me.
Looking back, seven years after my arrival and several mistakes made, now I can tell the things I should have done better when I had just arrived.
Had I just moved to Paris for tourism reasons, I’d have needed to acquaint myself with the basics in terms of language, restaurants, museums, hotels, etc because after all, I was only going to stay for a short length of time.
However, I moved to Paris to because I wanted to stay and it was somehow compulsory for me to learn everything there was to learn about the city and its inhabitants.
Are you a newcomer? What do you know about this city and Parisians?
What are the things you can do now that’ll be profitable for you in five or ten years?
Please find below a short list of things I think you should invest in as soon as you get to Paris.
You may not see the results now but five years from now you’ll rejoice you did them. Some of these things may not necessarily be pleasant, but they’ll help you shape your future as a Parisian expatriate and possibly a French citizen.
1. Start Learning French Right Away
France is the world’s top tourist destination and attracts more than 79,5 million visitors a year. The ability to speak even a little French makes it so much interesting to move to Paris and all the regions of France (from the mild climes of the Cote d’Azur to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps via the rugged coastline of Brittany) and offers great insights into French culture, mentality, and way of life. Even if it is only “parlez-vous Anglais?” (do you speak English?), it’s probably a good idea. The French tend to admire those who at least make an effort to speak a few words of French, before assuming everyone speaks English. Sure, you may have a bad accent and mess up from time to time, but most Parisians will definitely appreciate the effort and then switch into English. If you show interest in the French Language, you may even meet a French person that’ll volunteer to teach you or direct you to a French language tutor or even more interestingly give you tips on how to get free French language lessons. Learning french as soon as you get here might bear its fruits in the years to come.
2. Make Yourself at least 5 French friends.
Friends, they say, make life sweeter and easier. While they happen to be reserved when meeting up new people, French people prefer to invest their time and effort in long-term friendships.
Here’s the thing.
As soon as you get in Paris, make yourself some friends.
Making friends in Paris isn’t all about the number of networking events you attend. It’s about your attitude when you meet someone but also if and how you keep in touch.
Have you met someone at a networking event?
Did you get their phone numbers?
Are you connected via an app?
Did you send that “it was great to meet you” message?
Have you been invited to a party lately?
I’ve noticed that replying positively to an invitation is one of the surest ways to build a friendship. People know that they can trust or count on you.
Also, that’s another way to enlarge your network.
If you happen to make at least five french friends in your six first months after you’ve arrived in Paris, that’s an amazing rate.
Take it as an investment that may pay some day.
3. Make Yourself at least Five Expat Friends
I’d like to strongly recommend that you add to your list at least five expat friends already living in Paris.
These folks will help you see France in an amazing way you will never think of.
Based on their experience, they can assist in answering all the questions you may have to do with bureaucracy, the city’s social dynamics and much more.
Also, there are tons of feelings and culture shock situations you will go through when you move that, only other expats, can understand.
4. Keep Each And Every document (receipts, bills) you receive when dealing with the French Bureaucracy.
You know how annoying it is when you are asked to bring a document for a job and you get home and realized you can’t find it.
When you get a document, do not throw it away or delete it.
It's important you organize and keep the receipt even what you feel is less important, like grocery store receipts, unless you’re getting reimbursed for the purchase.
You can never tell.
The French bureaucracy is all about proving that you did or had something and all that goes through paperwork. Whatever paper you’re given or document you find that may support your claim, keep it.
5. Look for a job.
Be prepared to be flexible when searching for a job in France.
If you can’t find your ideal job at first (unless some of your newly-made friends activated their networks for you), look at other job offers in France and consider taking something else to get your foot in the door.
Here are the top ten Recruitment Sectors for Expats in France right now.
Applying for jobs
You can begin the application process from your home country, but you'll probably need to be in France for the interview stage unless a company offers you a telephone or Skype interview. Typical methods of application include online application forms and CVs with covering letters (lettres de motivation). Speculative applications are also used. Your CV and all letters of application should be in French (Yes, another reason why French matters and why you should start learning it).
The application and interview processes in France are similar to those used in many other nations.
Make sure you provide details of your language skills in your application, giving your mother tongue as well as your levels of spoken and written French and any other languages you speak. If you've lived in France, mention this in your application. Here’s how Pôle Emploi: The French National Employment Agency can help you.
6. Create (Side Business, writing, art, etc)
While sourcing for jobs in France, also try to create a side business like baking cake, selling on eBay, writing, painting, get involved in art, etc. Volunteering is one the best ways to find and make friends, learn or improve your language skills, being helpful to your local community, but also show what your professional skills are.
7. Save & Invest Wisely
As soon you start making or earning money, make sure you make a scale of preference in your wants and needs. By doing so, you can take account of your spendings daily and always save at least a 10% of your income and also invest when the opportunities come.
8. Learn or at least familiarize yourself with basic web development/Tech tools
We all know we are living in the digital age. Therefore get a skill or learn the basics of web development. This can improve and make you even more productive and resourceful at work. This will help you change the way you consume information, but also give you an idea of how all these tech and online tools work.
9. Frequently Reach Out To Loved Ones Back home
For me, I can’t do without keeping in touch with my family. This should be on your list. Reach out to your loved ones back home. If there’s only one thing I’ve learned and I’m always reminding myself, it's never forgotten who I am and where I’m from. This George R.R. Martin’s quote, taken from A Game of Thrones says it even better: “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
In this piece, shared on LinkedIn, the Entrepreneurial Marketing Communications Consultant and Writer Ivette K. Caballero puts it in a better way: “...Don't be ashamed of your family and cultural roots: Our world is so diverse that no nationality is better than another. Not having had the best parents, the ideal childhood or the most prestigious academic education is not a reason to feel embarrassed about your life. You are at a better place now than you were yesterday, this is what counts. Do not let other people define who you are because of where you come from. No one has had a perfect family nor has had the perfect cultural and educational experiences....”
10. Drop Your Ego
Have you moved to Paris to run a diplomatic mission, to be a media correspondent, a CEO, a researcher, an investor?
Have you followed your lover?
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve achieved more than anyone else in this life.
What you’re going to experience in five years from now might partly depend on your ability to learn.
Learning goes through the fact of acknowledging that your ego can ruin your expatriate adventure in Paris. Drop your ego to be able to see opportunities, to make friends and to enjoy life.
Learn to listen, share and above all, ask questions.
Open yourself to knowledge and you’ll be happy, five years later, your ego never distracted you.
Like the saying that goes “...Ego is like a dust in the eye. Without clearing the dust you can’t see anything clear..”, so clear the ego so that you can prepare and see your future world.
Over to You!
Hope you are ready to plan an unforgettable move to the City of Light.
At least with the advice and guide on how to enjoy your stay in Paris and how to be a successful Parisian job seeker, I pretty sure Paris will be fun.
If you have more ideas to share with newcomers to Paris, kindly drop your views down in the comments.