What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.
My dream was about the culture, travelling, food, wine and a long lunch.
Embracing a work/life balance with a slower pace of life from the busy Sydney life I was leading at the time.
Taking French lessons in France and relearning French, as I was fluent as a child.
Travelling around France and learning the history of my grandmother's country (she was French.
When possible travelling to neighbouring countries as I was closer than Australia (a 24 hour flight).
Embracing la vie francaise and living in a tiny walk up flat with tall windows and buying fresh food daily at the markets.
I knew that dealing with the bureaucracy would would take a while or forever from reading about expats in France.
I knew not to compare my old life and culture with my new one, as I had witnessed a family friend implode when she relocated to Australia, with the constant comparing of the two countries (yes they are very different).
How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
Most of my dreams were actually met. I researched extensively on relocating to France/Paris, France/Paris life, expat experiences, so I did go on with a semi realsitic expectation of what life would be like.
I embraced the long lunch, the food and the wine.
I'm now fluent in French, and am able to do business in German and Italian, so the language skills I have picked up have exceeded my language expectations.
I was able to travel extensively throughout France and Europe, and I now feel closer to my grandmother as I was able to visit her hometown and even spoke with people who knew her when she was young.
My flat was tiny but gorgeous. The fresh fruit and vegetables at the market was brilliant with seasonal foods, and I even got to buy and eat fresh cranberries which I never would have in Australia as the climate isn't suitible.
Dealing with bureaucracy met my expectations and did take a long time for anything to be done, 9 weeks to connect phone and internet, but you just have to take it in your stride and try again next week/month.
How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
My work was still busy. I work in Finance so maybe I was unrealistice in that dream, but it was interesting to work in different financial markets.
It took longer than I expected to relearn French, but I was able to communicate with my holiday French from day 1. The classes in Paris are not as good as Alliance Francaise in Sydney.
The French are very proud of their language and are willing to help you in English if you attempt it in French first.
Being a vegetarian for half of my life and only eating meat because I have to, the raw meat was a factor I had not considered.
I didn't realise how fresh the food at the market was; the chicken and ducks would sometimes still have a head and feathers attached, which was confronting and not something I handled well. Luckily my butcher was friendly and after a few attempts in French, he switched to English and was exceptionally helpful, merci Jean!
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