Adjusting to Parisian Life

Neuilly-sur-Seine, France sunset

I’m not even sure where to begin describing what it’s like to move across an ocean to build a new life and live with your boyfriend.

I take way too pictures of street corners and flowers. I eat breakfast at 12:30 pm, because my body still thinks its 6:30 am with the +6 hour time difference. I procrastinate going to the bank or registering for classes because I get distracted rearranging my clothes.

I talk to my boyfriend about things like how weird it is that the French eat avocados as a dinner appetizer and he tells me how strange it is that Americans eat lunch so fast and eat dinner so early. There’s always new daily vocabulary, plenty of coffee and a lot of laughter.


I am so relieved that most of my clothes are appropriate for Paris.

Thanks to building an incredible wardrobe while working at Theory, as well as working through the Great Closet Purge of 2017, it isn’t so obvious that I’m an American at first glance.

It turns out that a lot of French women love to wear their Adidas Stan Smiths, cropped biker jackets and denim as much as Americans. However, French women have a more elevated level of street style with well-tailored blazers and feminine blouses.

The language barrier isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Maybe it’s because I don’t speak French often at home because my boyfriend speaks English instead. Or maybe it’s because running errands at the market or the mall doesn’t require much of a conversation. Sure, I ask people to always repeat what they’re asking me—they probably think I’m partially deaf—but I’ll adjust to listening and responding in French in real time eventually.

But it’s definitely been an adventure navigating French-American cultural differences.

Each day reminds me of the little things that make me really American like looking for kale at the grocery store or trying to figure out the French equivalents of HomeGoods and Stop & Shop (with a solid selection of organic products).

And, my personal favorite so far is not closing the spinner inside of our washing machine and almost breaking it… Since appliances in Europe are smaller than the United States, there can be a few “extra steps” to a simple task.


The biggest adjustment right now is not having a full-time job.

I like having the freedom to grab a coffee in the morning, buy whatever organic groceries I want, and pick up a few new pieces to wear for the season, because I know that a direct deposit would appear every two weeks.

Passing time isn’t a problem right now—setting up the apartment is my main priority until I start classes in July, then I’ll be getting back to my freelance work starting this weekend.

The main thing that bugs me is having to curb my spending habits while living in Paris. It’s like putting shopaholic in the middle of Bergdorf Goodman, only armed with a green AmEx…

Ready or not, I’ll be hustling more for freelance social media work and blogging.

This is something I have wanted to pursue for a while. If this isn’t a sink-or-swim test of initiative, focus and sheer will, I don’t know what it is.


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A Francophile based in coastal New England

12 thoughts on “Adjusting to Parisian Life

  1. I love this! I’m an American expat luv ing abroad too. I’ve spent time living in Australia and New Zealand and I would LOVE living in France at some point. I spent a semester abroad in Lyon and it was amazing. Looking forward to following your Parisian adventures 😊


  2. ah I can totally relate to this. I’m an American living in Amsterdam (already for almost 7 years). here sadly there is no HomeGoods, funny enough I was just asking my boyfriend again last night why there aren’t any cheap home stores here! it always takes awhile to adjust but it is great to live abroad.. you learn so much about the US and what it means to be an American simply by living abroad. wish you the best in Paris!


  3. As someone who moved to a different country I can relate to a lot of these! Admittedly Italy to London isn’t as far and I already spoke English, but there are always going to be cultural differences anywhere you go!


  4. Good luck with the “jobless” part of your life. Sometimes, I just wish I will quit and do the same, stay unemployed for a few months, to enjoy the life, but than I wake up and it’s morning…time to get dressed and be on time in the office.
    Have fun while it lasts!


  5. Paris is such a unique experience, enjoy it fully! The city is a bit expensive for digital nomads in my opinion though…


  6. That’s super cool that you got the opportunity to move to Paris. It definitely sounds like an adjustment but insanely exciting! Good luck with the freelance gigs, I feel you on that one! 🙂


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