It is easy to find a million reasons why you should move abroad to France but once you’re here, is life perfect? Of course not! Let’s dive into my personal experience and talk about the hardest parts of living abroad in France.
I still enjoy my life abroad and know it’s the good place for me to be while simultaneously talk about the difficulties being here. Life is not so black and white. There’s often a warped mentality people seem to have that life abroad means a 24/7 vacation. That’s just not the case for most people. Life abroad is real life and often comes with unforeseen circumstances including the basic/mundane tasks.
Social norms in France are very different than what I was used to from back home and I notice that French people have public and private spheres that are often kept separate. Many times, what would be considered a normal conversation in Singapore would be considered kay-poh (prying) into someone’s personal life in France and may even deemed as rude.
THE FRENCH LANGUAGE
This is a huge one for me! Picking up French or any new language as an adult has its ups and downs but is anything but easy! Just because I married a French does not equate that I am fluent in the language and just because I did a full time language course at a French university for several months does not necessarily mean I am at an advanced level on par with a born and bred French and that all my problems with the language will disappear. There’s bound to be that cultural references, not know certain lingoes or feel like an outsider because of my accent. My level of French language is far from good but I can understand and speak daily conversations to get by. Baby steps… baby steps. Reading and understanding is much easier for me personally but the confidence to speak in French is still a work-in-progress.
GENERAL LIFE PROBLEMS
When you are going through a difficult patch in life, it sucks regardless where you live but sucks even more when you are far away from family. I’m referring to things like sickness, death, loss, career changes and even what I recently experienced, severe morning sickness during the first half of pregnancy. Health struggle in a brand new environment and system is a real, REAL challenge. No one likes to be unwell for sure but being unwell every single day for months was daunting. I remember my days being cold, clueless, bleak and I hated every part of my being and presence in France. Definitely a steep adaptation curve for me in the earlier months living abroad.
DISTANCE AND TIME ZONE
Living miles away or in a different continent of the world isolated from family and friends is sometimes difficult to handle. With the added time difference, communications are often not spontaneous. Online work commitments can seem round the clock as day and night are different too. Despite the distance and time zone difference, I found myself to be more patient and cherish every chance of communication with friends and family though. It’s also a comforting feeling to be able to read a text from your mobile the moment you wake up.