Being Prepared to be Unprepared and Joyeux Anniversaire à Nous en France

Look! I remember how to log into this blog! Which really calls more into question my password changing practices and not so much my memory…

So here I am a couple days after our anniversary of arriving in Paris… which let’s have a quick update and reflection:

Paris Season… 5ish…

So since last post:

  • Bought an apartment
That a big key!
That a big key!

I know other things have happened but seriously dudes that made my… year… decade… life.  Super happy in our own chez-nous in Paris. I keep thinking we will regret it when our loan payments come out each month but then. I just. don’t. Because it is friggin’ awesome.


Anyway this takes a lot of effort and much of our life has been a bit saturated with home-needs. We started looking last February, our offer was accepted last April, everything was official in September and we have been living here since October.  Since then lots of home projects which eventually I may share with you kind internet blog black-hole.

Other newssss:

  • Still at the same job! I speaka the French every day! And I am now moving into a new position. 😀 In the last year the product I work on has launched in France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Austria! In addition, we have released a major project which was a collaboration with the Irish team. And soon we launch in the UK and Ireland. Boy this past year at work has been… eventful and unbelievable! Lots of stress and responsibility but very rewarding and I have gotten to travel a bit with the job and work with other nationalities which is my favorite part.
  • All our siblings are married off! Which meant 3 trips to the US in the last year.
  • Still teaching dance on the side but not dancing as much as we would like
  • Returning back to Yoga thanks to the awesome Affordable Yoga Fitness.
  • Still loving France
  • Learned how to roll sushi.
  • Family came to visit and we have spent quite a bit of time in Loire lately.  And look forward to more family and Loire in the future! Life is good.
  • Plotting my next adventures thinking to take some time in Spain as I take back up Spanish (because I am loca) and Asia (I know big… but I am open)

Moral of the Story: Being an Expat = Prepare to Not be Prepared (AKA Adultness)

I will not bore you more with my Sheila News of the Year but leave you with a tidbit of reflection (still a high chance of boredom could arise).

Easy for you to say… you are a lion

Being an expat/transplant/immigrant (because let’s get real ‘expat’ is just a white privilege fancy word for immigrant) has ‘gotten easier’ as in I am now used to not being used to things.

Moving to a new country, is relearning everything (when perhaps you had not already figured everything else out in your old country) instead now you must do it again in 1 or 2 years rather than 18.


  • Registering/applying so you may be allowed to live there and work (a bit of the expat birth)
  • learning to speak (in the case of moving to a country with a new language)
  • learning about doctors, police, laws, social rules, where to buy random things that before never were a question like… the metal thing you put in your drain to catch stuff or Birthday cards
  • obtaining your driver’s license
  • Social Security subscription
  • Translation of all documents: marriage and birth certificates to prove you exist
  • Asking yourself questions you never thought you would have to like: ‘Will I be socially shunned if I slice the cheese in this fashion?’
    • The answer is Yes.

Now add a layer of figuring out HOW and WHERE to do the above with the vocabulary of a 2 year old.

This face a lot. Photo by Marilyn Suarez of ME!
This face a lot. Photo by Marilyn Suarez of ME!

I have not learned just how to ‘to be French’ but I have learned HOW to learn.

So I advise you several things:

  • Get used to it… the sooner you accept things will be hard and learn adapting/problem solving skills the better.
  • I know you love your expat friends and they are a great comfort and resource as they know and have done what you have done, but also meet locals! Really just meet as many people as possible. They add to your experience and comfort the blow.

Now on year 4 starting… things feel easier but then BAM! New life experience demands awkwardness/growth (now things that I have never done even back in the US that are just adult responsibility evolutions).  Like filing taxes as a home owner!

Expat Pokemon Evolve! photo thanks to
Expat Pokemon Evolve!
photo thanks to

And then suddenly Expatness feels a little less a state only for us sorry/masochist types that have immigrated more like just like…

Adult Life

– S



Finding yourself after Finding Yourself + A Life Update

Life Update

So my life has gone through… changes.  Where am I now, almost a year ago since the last post?

On a recent trip to Amsterdam – Photo by Marilyn Suarez
  1. Got a new job nine months ago!  At a French company!  In French!  So my French speaking abilities have gone from “poor” to “workable but still shameful”. ;p  Seriously though it is going very well.  Another new intense challenge but worth it.
  2. Everyone in my family ever is getting married.  Which is awesome.  And that means trips back to the US to see them.  We have another this coming October!
  3. I am in the process of finalizing the buying of an apartment. *fingers crossed*.

Honestly, with how stressful and insecure things were for us for so long in France (whether I shared them on the internetz or not) I was not sure I would ever find this stability again.  And WHAM now after a lot of hard work I am on stable ground. *touch wood – as they say here*


Selfie after my last Visa Renewal.  Eiffel Tower in the back, if you squint.
Selfie after my last Visa Renewal. Eiffel Tower in the back, if you squint.

And I am happy.  Obviously we are also planning on sticking around for the long run.

Next Steps – Refinding Yourself

When you move to a foreign country (or anywhere) to find yourself, often you find yourself… in respect to your native country.

Self Questioning as an Expat

For at least the first two to three years you have one line of questioning…

How does this new experience compare to my previous in your old country?  And how should you react?

This post needs more photos, so there you go. Photo by Marilyn Suarez
This post needs more photos, so there you go, me and my husband on a train.
Photo by Marilyn Suarez

You are not finding yourself, but finding who you are as an expat from your native country and who you should be in your new country.  You become a walking stereotype and diplomat.

Then you either go home, move on to a new country or stay.

Moving on to the root question, “Who are you?”

if you stay, it is at this point (which you will reach at least by the 3 year mark as we all know Love Only Lasts 3 Years), where you start to sift through all the noise, stereotypes and confusion to figure out who YOU are and not who your country is (the new or native).

I am there now.

I love my life, my friends, my city and still appreciate my roots.  But I have taken on too much and I also have taken on too much the persona of an ‘Expat’.  Which was useful and necessary for the original transition but now is old and tired.

Photo by Corey Maynard
Photo by Corey Maynard

While being a transplant will ALWAYS affect me.  I do not want that to be me.  When I am introduced I do not want to be, ‘Sheila the American who lives in Paris’.

I want to be ‘Sheila the mobile application designer’ or ‘Dancer’ or ‘Poet’ or ‘Lover of fine cheeses’ or ‘Life Long Learner’. Or whatever I find to be my true focus. It could even be ‘Sheila the woman that loves Paris’

It is not a shedding of my national identity because I am ashamed, it is just not hiding behind it.

Plus it’s too easy

To say… I reason like this because I am American.  Yes, I am sure that is true to an extent.

But why?  Not all Americans think the same.  So why in particular do I reason like this?

Because I am me.

But who am I?

Photo by Marilyn Suarez
Photo by Marilyn Suarez

And that is nothing an astonishing view of the Eiffel Tower or a buttery croissant can tell you.  Unless you find time to self reflect while enjoying them.

– S

Author’s Note:  It may seem contradictory to post this sort of post on an Expat Blog. And you are probably right.

Now where were we? – Paris Life – Season 4?

[Insert another Blog start opening blurb]

Introducing my newly branded (rough-draft) and moved expat blog (albeit in potentially perpetual beta mode). Really only the logo design is done. ;p

oooo look at that logo
Translation: American Flowers in Paris

First you must know that the Learning Machine, still exists but will be solely be professional or nontravel/expat ramblings. While this new little niche shall be my hide out for all the things I find fit to share in my growth as an American abroad in Paris.

While I have not been writing here for months now… I have been digesting and figuring out life in Paris.  It has been a labor of love which I am becoming ready to share.  So we will see how these little writings will make their debut to the world and how often.  But we might as well get started.

Carpé journée.

Life Update

Now where were we? Season 3, looking back at the archive.  I have now been amid what I would consider Season 4 for quite a while.

Austin is in a new job.  We have moved at least two times since last time I wrote, now living in upper 11th of Paris or lower Belleville neighborhood.  We were able to take our first real vacations in years, traveling to the Mediterranean and Sweden.

Stockholm was pretty - August 2013
Stockholm was pretty – August 2013

I took a professional pause to work on my French and some personal projects (including a non-profit dance exchange in Paris which welcomed over 200 dancers from around the world). And now I am back on the “find a job I can be passionate about (preferably in French)” train. Going well despite I decided to board this train in the summer time a.k.a. unemployed deadman’s land.

Still I am optimistic and have been talking with a couple exciting companies that hopefully I will get to announce in the coming months once the living return to Paris.

Overall life as an expat (especially in the last month) has semi-smoothed out, especially due to my gained proficiency in French, seeking stability and simplifying my commitments.

And of course we love Paris more than ever.

Napoleon graffiti agrees (spotted in Paris)
Napoleon graffiti agrees (spotted in Paris)

Though we have not had electricity for the past week and a half… but that is a post for another time.

After School Special

What have I learned so far this Season? Let’s make this semi-educational.

EXPAT LIFE LESSON #121: Hey man, you are already an expat… do not take on the rest of the world as well.

Not a fancy picture but a genuine one. Taken when we decided one night to take a break, picnic on the Seine overlooking the Eiffel Tower, and take a moment to appreciate what we have and why we work so hard to keep it.
Not a fancy picture but a genuine one. Taken when we decided one night to take a break, picnic on the Seine overlooking the Eiffel Tower, and take a moment to appreciate what we have and why we work so hard to keep it.

Simplify, delve into your new life and concentrate on some (read: not all) positive and productive activities!

Because this is not your past life, you have a new obligatory hobby: Figuring out a new culture, language and way of life.

Until the next post – S



Ode to My Husband – Love Nest Abroad and Some Fish

Love Expats Style

Some might say that moving aboard can be the worse thing you can do for your relationship.  Or really any major move or life change is tough in a four-legged race… let’s be fair.

For me it has been the best thing I could have done.  As I now appreciate my husband more than I could ever express in a silly little blog rambling.  I am learning to trust in him, see him for the man he is and not take him for granted, not even for one second.

I am so ever grateful that I made this move with Austin.  He is my constant (Lost style ;p).  Life abroad is not all travel, cheese and ease.  I have my down moments of self doubt where I cannot tell the paperwork from the oak trees.  But he always seems to find me no matter how low I get.

Harry and Sally Meets Good Wine

We had worked together before but moving to a 27 square meter apartment, working at the same long hour jobs (two now), teaching dance together (in french) and relearning to how to live (french style) definitely has been a challenge.

Our first real apartment in Paris.

I have now reached the point where I see my fellow expats leave, those that came around the time we came (my “expat class” as I call it).  It is sad though we all have our reasons.  Some came planning only to stay a couple months.  Some have found better opportunities. Some just do not like it. And Paris is definitely not a city to stick with if it is not the right fit.  I am not too sure I would still be here if I did not have Austin. (And a few dozen friendly french strangers and friends a like).

Had to keep your head low in our little studio.
Had to keep your head low in our little studio.

We definitely have progressed greatly since our arrival in Paris, in our temporary 17 square meter apartment or when the machine ate my credit card on the first day.  We have progressed enough so that I can fondly look back at some of our earlier now-funny struggles.  I will not say we have stability now but we are gaining comfortability… and we have come a long way.

And I am glad this has been a partner marathon.


Austin and I moved to France 6 months into our marriage and 5.5 years into our relationship.  For those who know our wedding date (the binary for 42), you know we love Douglas Adams and our wedding abounded in references to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Shot near Notre Dame from our honeymoon visit to Paris. Where we continued to fall in love with each other and this city.

Today I stumbled upon a reading that I had to share and my relation to it.  It is a mix between how I felt: the first time we kissed, at our wedding and during our first year in Paris (in the apartment where you could barely swing a cat).

Enjoy and Thanks Austin.

From Douglas Adams’ “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish”

There was a sort of gallery structure in the roof space which held a bed and also a bathroom which, Fenchurch explained, you could actually swing a cat in, “But,” she added, “only if it was a reasonably patient cat and didn’t mind a few nasty cracks about the head. So. Here you are.”


They looked at each other for a moment.

The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.

For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone long enough with a Swiss cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who wakes one morning to find the door of his cage hanging quietly open and the savanna stretching gray and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.

He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

He hadn’t realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones until it now said something it had never said to him before, which was,


– S

Life in Paris Season 3 – Living the American Dream in Paris


On the Seine - Picture by My Wonderful Mother
Us - Season 3

So here we are!

Parisian life Part/Year Deux.. but we in the Suarez-Flores household call it Season 3, as far as Parisian life changes go.  We have been back around a month now, after our trip to the US, but with the flourish of guests… our work schedule… and settling back in, I have barely had a moment to breath let a lone write.

Season 1 was our first job. Season 2 was the move to unemployment and then quickly luckily into new employment.  Season 3… is what I shall call… actually settling into Parisian life.

But first some reflection and advice… Primarily: Learn the language.

So what is life like?

  • We work a lot.
  • We eat a lot.
  • We walk everywhere.
  • We teach dance weekly.
  • We travel when we can.
  • We fumble around with French.

Really not much different from Season 2… but it feels different.

The Difference

Well, the big difference is where my head is at. I am fed up.

Before, with so much uncertainty, it was okay to be confused at all times… It was okay to frown but accept weird charges on my phone bill.  It was okay, to be at odds at all times. It was okay, to accidentally order three soups instead of two. Why? Because we were new here and this is what we took as the cost of being an expat in a country where the language was not our native one.

My mother and I sont les ignorants.
"Les ignorants voyagent à Paris!" - My Mother and I posing for our favorite inside joke.

In fact, being back in the US for those 3 weeks it felt WEIRD to finally not be uncomfortable at all times  (which is a post for another time).  Not a complaint… but it made me laugh how used I had gotten to being uncomfortable.

And now I am back.. and I no longer want to be uncomfortable… I am sick of being apologetic and akward. I want a “normal” Parisian life (which will always include apology and formality I realize, as is their way).  I want my old confidence back in my surroundings… I want..

I want the American Dream!

The American Dream in Paris is to blend in.  To order wine with ease.  To meld with your sometimes bewildering French colleagues (because trust me… working in a different country is well, different). To be able to complain about the weather with your fellow boulangerie patrons. Perhaps, it is not the dream for some of the famed ugly american tourists, but it truly is for us Expats that have fallen in love, figured out how to move here and now call this mystical/sometimes mythical place home.

We want to be French.

Karma.. Karma... Chinese Lion
Me, as the social chameleon.

Or at least succeed at becoming French for our time here.

And right now, despite the support of my French and international friends I have yet to achieve that comfortability.

And its my fault.

Í have yet to achieve it because I do not know the language fluently.

There are jaded and not so jaded expatriates that will tell you otherwise about achieving this dream of fitting in… They will tell you that Paris is for the French.  That you will never fit in. I have heard this on several occasions.

Well, first of all I do not want to fit in with those types of exclusive Parisians, which I know those exist.  I just want to be able to live my life normally and interact with them if need to but otherwise interact with the awesome accepting/welcoming/funny French/Parisians that I have met.

But I will never feel at ease here until I learn the language…

Until I see a charge on my phone bill and then can call up and speak in French and explain and get although probably begrudging… but at least palpable… assistance to fix it. Or at least understand what they say when they hang up on me.

My cable has been on and off broken now for a year… And I live in fear of speaking to a human to fix it.

This is not I!

So I must learn French… I want to… I always have… but with not working in French, I have not made the effort enough outside of work to become fluent.  I am fine… I can mumble out some food words… or talk to a foreign french speaker.

But that is not enough.  As I live in fear of probably 95% of potential interactions I may have with the populace on a given day.  I need to get this down to at least a solid 25%.  Because it is isolating and damned uncomfortable.


So young... so strong...
Us on our Honeymoon 1.5 years ago at Place Saint-Michel - Ready to conquer... So young.

I will conquer you Paris… and your beautiful mystifying and sometimes odd sounding but beautiful language.  I will gnaw on the metaphorical skull that is your language.

And how! No really… how?

I have some tools I want to share in detail later but basically:

  1. Devouring all culture possible in French only.  Bought us an unlimited movie pass for two people for 35EUR a month!
  2. Only French spoken now at home (no joke).
  3. Flashcards… lots of digital flashcards.
  4. Reading fun stuff in French on my kindle, thanks to the help of a french dictionary I installed on it. Should probably switch to a French to French dictionary…
  5. Actually talking to people in French. Like a real person!
  6. Listening to podcasts as much as humanely possible, all in french.
  7. Hope to start journaling in French soon.
  8. Finishing my grammar lessons at home… (also a pending todo)
Really just making myself do it.. And already only a week into it.  There is a difference.
Any way here I go…

Allons !- S

Life in Paris the 2nd Season

So with the start of Fall comes changes for Austin and me.   We have had a wonderful albeit sometimes difficult first 5 months in Paris.  And now the next adventure… we quit our jobs!

Not going to go into why or details or such.  Smartdate was an AWESOME experience, in which we treasure our time there.  And I hope with our new found time I can blog about what I learned/did there.  In fact, I hope to write a whole bunch more about my time in Paris!  I really will miss all our wonderful internationally eclectic coworkers.  But it was time to move on and we now will just have to see them after work hours!

Move on to what?


Not sure… It could even take us away from Paris.  We are considering many options though we dearly hope to stay in Paris.  It can be a frustrating and expensive city but one of such beauty and quiet excitement.  Just exhilarating!  Also, with how much we have invested in learning the culture and language… we just aren’t ready to leave yet.  And without counting our eggs its looking hopeful.

Since our last day at Smartdate now over a week ago, Austin and I have kept very busy indeed.  I have secured a freelance job with some others in the works.  Otherwise we both are just honing our skills (french, code & otherwise), getting active again and just enjoying some balance!

To help organize our time we created these lists to live by…  Which if you know me… you know I love lists!

Daily Todo:

  • Be Active (at least take a walk)
  • French Practice
  • Relax ;p
  • At least four hours working on projects/learning
  • Read some professional articles
  • Read the news 
  • Floss

Weekly Todo:

  • Blog one article
  • Dance
  • Explore Paris
  • Practice our Music Instruments

A little something on tough decisions…


I think more than ever Austin and I are okay with really just taking a chance!  We thought we were before when we quit our jobs in Florida. But in the end still took a comfortable position (albeit in France).  But to then quit our jobs in Paris in search of the next step, was even harder.  Scarier. But exciting!

As humans we never know if the decisions we are making are the right ones.  We can only just make them and not look back.

I sometimes watch for “signs”.  As to if what I about to do is correct.  Not necessarily superstitious but in an empirical data kind of way.

Still this in itself scary.  What if I interpret the signs or evidence wrong?  Perhaps the bad luck means I should stay rather than leave (For example the week that we quit our jobs we also locked ourselves out of our apartment, my computer died and I got sick…)! What if it is all a red herring?

What if… what if…

Anyway… I am sure I’ll have more to post on this in the future.  Right now we are happy and moving forward!

Our little foray into unemployment could last a week.  Or it could last a year!  Luckily due to the internet we’ll keep busy.

Thank god for the internet! – S

Normalcy in the City

Just a quick update for concerned family or curious friends or both.

We are awesome! Days are long.  But it seems no matter how long they are I still am excited to be where I am.  Austin and I continually find ourselves saying, “Wow!  We live here?  I love our apartment/job/new city!”

Mostly days are long due to it being summer (sun sets at 10pm!) but I find the ability to quickly travel around the city and see many new things makes me FEEL like I’m doing more.  Even the walk home is productive and fun.   Reminds me of living in Boston.  Right now, living in a city is perfect for us.

But yet, Austin and I are excited for the moment where things feel more “normal”.  Today we finally got Austin’s debit card in the mail (though mine is still in transit).  Which means we can sign up for internet and a phone!  Small, but when gone, things just don’t feel as comfortable.  Though I’m sure even that we’d get used to.

You don’t really notice the niceness of being able to assume and rely on factors until you live abroad.  When you need assistance from the coworkers just to cook your microwave dinner (close call on that one… Almost started a small fire.)  But yet at the same time, it gives you an appreciation and a perspective.

On Saturday we actually decided to stay in and watch Dexter, due to feeling a little under the weather.  And it was kind of nice just to be “normal”.

It is weird because on one hand we don’t EVER want the newness to wear off.  Much like a relationship!  But at the same point if every time your new lover spoke to you it was in gibberish… after a while you would hope for the day you understood them.  Even if it meant things were more mundane (maybe they were talking about bills all along… or what kind of laundry detergent they bought that day).

And things are more comfortable as time progresses.  It helps that we work in English 10 hours a day (though that hasn’t helped our French tongue).  It helps we have cool coworkers who “speak geek”.  It helps that we have each other.  We feel less on edge now.  And though we love all the new foods we are trying, there are moments where we just want something “safe”.  And some new french foods are starting to feel “safe.”

I suppose what we want is companionship from Paris with a dash of romance.  Perhaps Paris can surprise us with a fun treat once an a while but if we need to know how to unlock our phone… well, it would be nice to become second nature.

Which we finally figured out how to unlock our phone…

I suppose its strange since we have only been here a little over three weeks to want to HURRY up on the normal.  We just know we are setting up our life here.  And we’d like to start to feel like that. 🙂  Finding a cellphone while on vacation is a noneworry. A “Oh well!  I can do without for a week!”.  But not having it when you know you need to call landlords… a different issue.

So life progresses!  And we continue to feel lucky.  We’re gonna make it after all! (Think of Mary Tyle Moore but two people… and without a TV show)

Throws Hat in the Air – S

Tired Days… Generosity and Internet Famine

Internet Internet Everywhere but Not a Drop to Surf?

So the lack of updates have been due to well… settling into a new country, and not having steady internet access.

To quickily update you all.

I got a job at Smartdate (that whole floating, rediscovering self thing didn’t last long), which has been exciting (I started May 2nd).  So far I love it.

Got an apartment.  I definitely will be posting in more detail later about HOW to find an apartment in Paris.  SOMEHOW we did it in a week and a half, with basically no credentials.  A new moon record.

And now I’m sick.  But getting through!  We still have to finish up some banking stuffs (debit card ftw!), get internet/phone (need a debit card for this…) and a few house things.  But the end is sight!  And we can finally hunker down and really acclimate.


So far its been worth it.  Hard… but worth it.  We love this city.

I’ve had moments of sadness, frustration and tears.  But all and all, due to Austin’s support and the generosity of our new friends things have been going “smoothly”.  As my new neighbor he said, “You don’t look as stressed as most new people moving over here!” Better poker face?

Really I think our success has been our openness to the French culture/people and people in general! This human condition thing, kinda needs human support at times to get through. Every where we turn we have had to rely on good faith and help of others, and we have been shocked at the generosity of others.  Everyone from our new neighbor allowing us to use his internet (albeit it spotty) to strangers stopping us and asking if we were lost and needed directions to a mother stopping and helping us carry suitcases up metro stairs to a dancer friend looking out for us and translating on shopping trips.

Overall the Parisian people have been very sweet and giving.  And part I think is due to us really trying to learn their language, reaching out and showing our appreciation when we can.  From day one you need to accept the culture, no matter what culture it is and be open to it.  Because you are in the thick of it so might as well make the effort.

I am sure more hard times are to come.  But we know we are really lucky so far and are loving life!

Internet Withdrawal

So I have internet now… but not really.  As I said before our neighbor let us use a public wifi account that he got from someone else.  Kinda shadey and not reliable.  Not good enough for skype sadly. But still so nice!

There was about 3-4 days that either the internet was out at our temp place (before our new apartment) or we were at our new one with no internet (until last night). I know that should be a big deal but…

It’s funny how much that makes you realize how addicting and helpful the internet is.  Especially when away from home in your new home… It really helps you feel connected and at no times truely lost.  And was irony is, Austin and I had internet at work!  But of course we could not use it for personal use during the day.  So to come home and not be able to connect, was kinda hard.

And to think 12 years ago I did not even have internet.  And now it has integrated into our lives.  Not sure how others made this kind of move before with out it!

I over and over found myself thinking “I should tweet about having internet withdrawal”.  Yeah…. you get the futility in that statement.  And I didn’t even have a smart phone until recently where I could tweet on the go!

So perhaps its been good though?  Rather than “connected” to the net I was more “connected” to around me.  But I can’t say it still wasn’t on my mind… it wasn’t that long to go through full rehab and recovery. ;p

Anyway… just a musing…  I’m sure I won’t feel right until I have a solid phone and internet line… and not sure what that says about me.  But I have found it an important tool as an expatriate!

This is substance for another blog, another time.

Night – S


Jour Un

Well, we have arrived! It’s been pretty good so far, considering how badly moving to a new country can go.

Lessons Learned

  • Bank of America is the worse when transacting overseas.  Within an hour of getting to Paris, despite calling and warning BOA I had my card “taken” by the machine.  As in the machine would not return it or give me money because my bank requested them to.  Perks of BOA is that it has sister banks in Italy and Paris (BNL and BNP) so you don’t have to pay ATM fees. I have learned or at least had my belief reaffirmed that ALWAYS have a back of plan and several cards you can pull money from… also. if moving there change your address straight away to that country’s. Not 100% sure that will help but can’t hurt…
  • Weigh your baggage and then add 3lbs to be safe. As in assume that your scale is off and pack under… unless you want to be like us and have to take some stuff our of our bags and wear them!

    Austin wearing three coats, two sweaters, two belts and two sets of socks... to keep our baggage weight down.
  • Bring as little as possible. Yes, bringing new professional clothes from the US saved us money… but life is different here (especially in Paris).  Space is tight and its best to do with little clothing and maybe buy more later than live in a small apartment with four large bags taking up half the room!
  • Carryons must be small and are strictly limited to two BUT if you can get it past security and to the gate they MAY still make you check it but not at charge!  Which saved us $150.  How do you get it to the gate?  Puppy dog eyes helped… hoping they take pity on you.  Making an effort to reduce its size in front of them.  Either way, I would suggest to follow the restrictions very carefully and don’t risk it.


Courtyard outside our apartment.

So far I love our apartment though we have too much stuff.  Our neighborhood is great, everything is walkable.  But it is all a bit overwhelming.  We aren’t just here for vacation but daily life.  Our first venture out was okay but considering our lack of sleep, a bit much especially when trying to communicate.  After taking a nap, our second outing was much better and resulted in eating a nice meal and learning the word for my favorite coffee prep (Noisette: Espresso with a little milk on top).  But my camera was missing its memory card… so no pics.

C’est le vie – S

P.S.  This cat will continue to motivate me:

Bonjour Novelle Vie!

So lots been going on and I finally have a breather to share.

Austin and I are moving to Paris France!

In fact, we are amidst our 7 hour layover in Boston right now. We will be in Paris as of 1:30AM EST or 7:30AM (Paris Time?).

I have a lot to say, share and do. It is almost immense this opportunity, this new chapter in our lives and the sheer possibility that lies a head of us.

Our lives will never be the same.

Even when we return, as we are moving for short-term contract work. It will be to a new state in the US, to another life chapter and most likely far away again from those we love. Or maybe we won’t return? Maybe we’ll love it so much we will figure out a way to stay and make a new life in Europe.

We don’t know… and its exciting!

Austin will be working for Smart Date on a yearly contract. And I will be… figuring things out.

The money Austin will be making while, just making ends meet, will be enough to afford me a chance to do a little soul searching. I would love to work in design/web dev in Paris and my natural inclination to work… a lot probably will keep me antsy until I secure something. Once I arrive my first task will be to finish my new portfolio site and start job searching. But I have to realistically understand I may not find something due to unemployment rates in France and my visa status. And that, while I do freelance web dev/design, I could consider the pursuit of some of my more artistic hobbies or create a startup app or study for the GRE or work at a cafe or… sit at the Louvre… a lot.

I have always been someone with varied talents and interests. And it is my mission in the coming months to really hone my talents, take some risks and learn A LOT, especially when it comes to design and my creative talents.

I also want to return to writing. *Insert obligatory “I swear I’ll post on my blog!” but probably won’t disclaimer*

So we’llll seee… whether I post on this blog, a new tumblr or a combination or both. Join me on my move to Paris and all I learn in life, design, internetz and beyond! I’m really going to try to keep this focused on tidbits that might help improve everyone’s knowledge and not just my vent level.

How Sappy and Vague – Sheila