Paris has long been a magnet for artists and the celebrities who come to be part of an artistic tradition or just to breathe in the atmosphere of one the world’s most stylish cities. Paris also welcomes tens of thousands of normal folks each year, who swap their own home cities or towns to come live in the City of Light. A new blog created by three people who have done just that celebrates these journeys, and we’re going to let the editor of Our Paris Stories, Melissa Lim, tell us more about this interesting project. – Martin Dixon
Each week, Our Paris Stories features a new expat living in Paris from all around the world. Our mission is to inspire others to experience life abroad by showcasing individuals and their unique journeys to Paris.
The idea for Our Paris Stories sparked after people started reaching out to me on almost a weekly basis asking for advice on moving abroad. Coming from a small town in California, it’s a big deal if someone moves to a neighboring state, yet alone another country. I’ve kind of become the “expert” on living in Europe among my community back home. Most people who’ve reached out admire me for making the move, but share common hesitations:
“Moving abroad is too scary. I’d be all alone so far from home and not know how to make friends.”
“How did you get your visa? I don’t even know how to research that.”
“I wish I could live in Paris, but finding a job is too hard. You got lucky that your company transferred you.”
Getting a job abroad takes diligence, planning, and patience. As you’ll see in many of our stories, none of us “got lucky”; we were just very determined to turn our dreams into a reality. It took me two years of actively searching in order to find work in France. Celina Tolbert, an au pair we featured, remarks, “If you make moving abroad a priority, you’ll find a way to get here.” I wholeheartedly agree.
However, you can’t be what you can’t see, and if you’ve only heard of one “lucky” success story abroad, the goal won’t seem very attainable. In order to inspire others, we launched Our Paris Stories as a platform for people to hear how others successfully moved to Paris from all sorts of backgrounds.
The team has structured the interviews to allow each expat to tell his/her story and also address the common concerns above. This way others can learn how to make friends in a foreign country, what kind of visas are out there, and how to land a job abroad.
For example, we just interviewed Tiffany, a young lady from Tahiti who moved to Paris with dreams of becoming a pastry chef. Moving from a small island of 280,000 Tahitians to a city of over 2 million people was a huge change for her. It forced her to adjust and become more open-minded to all the different people around her. Tiffany tells us that meeting people through AEPF (association des étudiants de Polynésie Française), helped to make Paris feel more like home. One of our readers from Tahiti said it was so helpful to learn about this organization.
Another interesting expat we have coming up is Abby, who moved to Paris from London. She grew up with a French penpal who helped her develop her passion for learning other languages. Abby shares how moving to Paris has been such a rewarding experience for her:
“Living abroad brings out the adventurer in you. When you have up-rooted your whole life to be somewhere, you no longer play a passive role. You make the effort to explore your new home in a way that you never seem to get round to doing in your hometown.
A massive dream and goal that I set myself in life was to learn how to speak French. Living in Paris and doing this every day reminds me that I achieved something I set out to do, and that with perseverance I am capable of great things. I never get tired of compliments from Parisians on my level of French!”
Our favorite part about running Our Paris Stories is getting to meet such a diverse community of expats who all share a love for Paris. It’s been extremely rewarding to see how happy and proud people are the day their stories are published. We hear things like, “My grandmother read my story and she called me tearing up about how proud she is of my accomplishments.
Thank you for the opportunity to put my story out there.”
It takes an immense amount of courage, perseverance, and proactivity to uproot yourself and rebuild your life from the ground up. As Hungarian Miki Molnar jokes, Paris is not just “Disneyland with some fashion shows on the side.” Our Paris Stories acknowledges both the challenges and rewards of living abroad, and celebrates the individuals who have made the leap and put themselves out there.
We love when readers (like a woman named Maria) comment, “Now I will not question myself if it is a good idea to go to Paris or not. It is fun to read people’s experience in the city and it gives me more hope that I could make it in Paris.”
As part of our growing collection, we’d love to feature more expats on Our Paris Stories. In addition to sharing your story on our platform, you’ll have a professional photo shoot (at your favorite Parisian spot) as a keepsake and celebration of your achievements in France. Just submit your story and we’ll be in touch 🙂
Melissa Lim – Our Paris Stories