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Danielle: danielle abroad

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Paris makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Paris, etc.

I often refer to myself as a twenty-something optimist. I was born in Westchester County, just 30 minutes north of New York City. Less than two years ago, I came to Paris to pursue a master’s in Global Communications and have been living and loving it here ever since.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I started blogging as a sophomore at Syracuse University, a few months before I set off to study abroad in Santiago, Chile and Strasbourg, France. Since then, travel has been especially important to me so I’ve kept it up as I seek out more adventure and experience.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

Having blogged for so long, I don’t actually have a favorite blog entry. One that is near and dear to my heart though, is the one in which I announced my move to Paris. And for anyone and everyone who comes here expecting to prendre un bon café.

Tell us about the ways your new life in Paris differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

The biggest adjustment to my life in Paris had nothing to do with the city itself, but rather getting readjusted to being a student and doing so on a graduate level. Paris did add to the challenge though. Having experience living in a big city and living in France helped; as did having close ties with a French family nearby.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Paris? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

Of course I wasn’t fully prepared for all that awaited me here. With that said, I don’t believe there’s anything I could’ve done differently. The best experiences are rooted in the unexpected.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

Oh, that it does! Choosing one story is tough. Most recently, I was in the south of France with a friend who’d come to visit me. We’d rented a car to explore the region freely and did so without any trouble. That is, until we stopped for gas on our way to return the car. It just stopped working. And I still don’t understand what happened! I did, however, have the opportunity to explain the situation to the car rental company, the repair company, and the mechanic... on the phone. I don’t know much about cars to begin with, let alone discussing automobile malfunctioning in the French language. I’m sure I sounded absurd. Somehow, the situation did get resolved... eventually.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Paris?

  • Limit expectations. I relocated from the land of convenience (the United States) and had to adjust to hours, service, and general processes that simply were not created with me and my life in mind. I’ve found it to be a good lesson actually; it makes one humble.
  • Open a bank account ASAP. Very few things can be done without a bank account—such as renting an apartment, buying a cellphone, etc—so it’s imperative you prioritize this to-do. Also, be prepared to not instantly walk out of the bank with a bank card. That’s just not the way it works.
  • Give French a try. I’ve found that being a native English speaker is a handicap. As soon as someone knows who I am, they almost always switch so that they can practice. With that said, I think my good fortune in navigating French bureaucracy and general French life comes from my mediocre knowledge of the French language, even if I can neither speak quite as fast nor do so with such eloquence as I’d like to be able to.

How is the expat community in Paris? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

The expat community in Paris is wonderful and thriving. Thanks to my blog, I feel like I had “an easy in”. There are also multiple meetup groups to choose from, which I’d highly recommend.

How would you summarize your expat life in Paris in a single, catchy sentence?

Inspiration is to be found in the most unexpected places; pleasure in the most simple.

Rajat Bhatnagar

"As a new arrival in Paris, InterNations provided me with the chance to get in touch with other Indians and get used to life in Europe faster. "

Samantha Greene

"Meeting people from so many different countries in a convivial atmosphere is what I like best about our expat events in Paris. "

Global Expat Guide