Expat Life: Smooth Sailing or Troubled Waters

2 Sep

When I entered my 30s I began to have a real itch to travel, and so I did, in large part thanks to my job which took me to places all over Europe and the Caribbean. That travel bug bit me hard and it had me thinking that I would like to not just experience another country for a week or two, but actually live in one. I started to talk about it with friends and colleagues hoping that someone would magically tell me how I could go about making my dream a reality. Well, the reality came when I met my French husband who was working in the U.S. for a few years. He took me on a trip to his hometown of Lyon, France and I fell in love immediately both with him and his city. So, when he asked me to marry him, and then if I thought I could live in France I didn’t hesitate to say OUI!

I never really thought about the life of an expatriate and all the challenges it could impose. Instead, I was often dreaming of a life of excitement and change, something different. Well, now that I’ve been in France for two years I can say it’s been a pretty smooth ride with maybe a few waves. Indeed, my expat life in France is a bit different then someone coming to another country alone and without the support of a spouse and extended family, but when I was contacted by Over’s in the UK to post their infographic (below) I felt it necessary to share their insight for people who are interested in making the move, as I can attest it’s not all smooth sailing!

My main challenge daily is the language. When I first arrived in France I didn’t speak a word of French. After a year and a half at the University of Lyon, I now understand almost 80% of French, but speaking the language continues to be a challenge. If you are considering a move to a country where you don’t speak the native tongue I would advise on taking a few courses before your departure or look into where you may be able to take courses in your host country. In France, if you are married to a French citizen courses are complimentary through the government.

Another thing to consider, which isn’t covered in the graphic below, is the culture. Are there traditions and/or daily life changes that you are not willing to accept. Look into those before you make the move.

And finally, how will you make your living? Do you have the proper Visa in order to work in your host country? If you don’t speak the language are there jobs in your native language to be obtained? Living abroad can be expensive depending on where you make your move, so be prepared.

There’s a lot to consider before becoming an expat, but I can say that the rewards are tremendous. Just check out all that I’ve been able to experience in France on this blog in my two years here.

If you’re thinking about making the move and have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Expat Life: Not Always A Smooth Ride!

Expat Life: Not Always A Smooth Ride! – An infographic by the team at Overs

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One Response to “Expat Life: Smooth Sailing or Troubled Waters”

  1. Melissa van Herksen September 21, 2013 at 1:58 am #

    i have been an expat in three countries now and i agree with most of this. the worst thing about being a serial expat is that once you have finally adjusted…it is time to move again. This is my third post and it has been the hardest for me. I finally hit a wall with Chile…not sure what it is.

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