Terrance: Your American Friend in Paris
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Paris, etc.
I am Terrance Gelenter and I’ve been a long-time, regular visitor to Paris who finally decided to move here from San Francisco seven years ago.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started writing about Paris in newsletters and at my site Paris Through Expatriate Eyes in 2001, before there were bloggers, as a way of staying engaged with the city.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Far too many to choose from. Every day brings new experiences to write about. My memoir: Paris par Hasard from Bagels to Brioches contains many of my favorites.
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?
It is much more culturally rich: great museums, great food at all price ranges, concerts, classic repertory cinema and free mingling and schmoozing by people of all ages. As a fluent French speaker who had been preparing himself for this move for many years I had no problems adjusting.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Paris? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Yes, I just wish I’d have come sooner.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
My experiences have been rich, personal and often poignant. None of the fish out of water incidents that have informed the experiences of many expats.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Paris?
- Don’t make comparisons with America or your home country — you came for a different experience.
- Make an effort to learn the language.
- Slow down and enjoy the moments that occur par hasard.
How is the expat community in Paris? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I never looked to become a part of an expat community. I have created a community of risk takers who are enjoying being Americans in Paris. That being said there are many social and professional organizations that can assist the non-French speaker in getting acclimated to life in Paris.
How would you summarize your expat life in Paris in a single, catchy sentence?
A passionate Paris life lived par hasard.