Why I moved to Paris
Updated: Dec 27, 2019
In this first post, I want to tell you about why I started this blog and what to expect of it.
A mini-biography begins so sit tight.
I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. Initially, I used to live in the suburbs of Mumbai when I was in college/high school and would take the am train to go to school. I always wanted to do something different, out of the box so I started learning Japanese because I love languages and why not? Remember Cardcaptor Sakura? I was a big fan. Anyway, I am going to cut that story short. It didn't work out, Japanese is a difficult language. I wanted to learn something new. You can guess what my next move was.
With my friends, we would take the same train every day and some of them were learning French in Alliance Française de Mumbai. They would talk about jeu de rôle (role-playing) and other fun activities in their French class. I felt left out. I wanted this fun too. So, I joined Alliance Française to learn French. I did three levels (Delf B1) between 2007-2008. I was attending 8 am classes which would mean I was leaving my place at 6 am. Yes, you read it right. But when you love what you do, you care less for these things. Later, I moved in the heart of Mumbai so I had more time to do French activities. I remember I did random things to immerse myself in French everything (my fb name was Sneha-Chloé in a desperate attempt of getting a prénom composé LOL). I will write a post about "how I integrated myself into French culture" so I won't go in those details now.
Fast forward 4 years, I finished law school and got admitted to the bar in 2012 BUT I hadn't been speaking French at all. Everyone was going abroad for LL.M and I just wanted to get out of the country. I still wasn't thinking about Paris at this time. I just wanted to be somewhere....not that obvious. A great friend of mine told me to apply to Sciences Po Paris. I applied pretty last minute and got in! I arrived in Paris in August 2012. I had never visited the city before so it was a big deal. I had forgotten my French and even otherwise, B1 level is just about enough to kick off la vie à la française but certainly not enough to get a job! I wish I had done a bit of research beforehand but I decided to ride the wave (I still live by this principle). I don't regret it.
I didn't like Paris initially but now I love it.
Your struggle is not only real but it is in French, not English. It was very difficult to find out admin related answers, get an internship (stage) at the end of the course, the list goes on. I tried moving to other countries but it didn't work out because of......you guessed it.... visa issues! I moved to Beijing briefly in 2014 to recharge myself. My time in Beijing was fantastic.
Fast forward 5 more years, I had reached several milestones in my life by 2019. I graduated from yet another law school in Paris, got a job at the biggest French international law firm and now, I work in publishing. I want to tell you how I did/do it through "how to establish a career in France as a foreigner".
I hang out with a lot of international people which also includes Europeans and French people. How I made friends with French/Parisian people deserves a post on its own. The Europeans v the rest of the immigrants have a different life. Why? Living on a visa is the biggest driving factor behind it. You connect instantly with an immigrant faster than others and within 10 minutes you find yourself discussing your visa issues. I am not saying that Europeans don't understand, they do, some even more as they faced visa issues when they lived abroad. In general though, when I talk to Europeans, they are flabbergasted by my visa nightmares, apartment hunting stories or getting a job. So, if you are European, please appreciate your valuable passports as the struggle isn't the same for us immigrants, especially when your passport is a bitch.
I recently told a friend that if I put the same efforts in my home country, I would be a millionaire by now but I chose this life and I love it. Yes, it comes with a lot of stress and anxiety. I'd say 70% of my stress is just from me being non-European and trying to maintain my visa to stay in France legally. But hey! The quality of life is amazing, I have 5 weeks of paid vacation annually, French healthcare is great. I can go to the dentist without a problem. After having invested in so many years of residency, I am also eligible for the French citizenship and I am working on getting it. I hope it works out. I will tell you all about it, promise!
Sharing is caring.
The purpose of my blog is sharing my knowledge that I have gathered over the years. I like sharing what I learn with my friends so we can all make progress together. On this blog, I want to share information with other immigrants because even the smallest piece of information can be a game-changer. I will share French visa tips. I am not asking for a promotion for my blog but don't hesitate to share my posts if it will help a foreigner.
I still have a love and hate relationship with the city but the love factor has grown more for sure. Having amazing friends is also helpful. On August 20, 2019, I celebrated my 7th anniversary of moving to Paris with one of my best friends (Hi Adele!) and as I was reflecting on how far I have come, I felt the urge to finally act upon my intention of creating a blog to share my story. So voilà, here we are!
I would love to hear your story, what made you move to Paris/France? Was it as random as mine? How has it been since then? How did you plan? Comment below!
PS: If you are European/French, please share your thoughts about what you think of immigrants' struggles or your struggles in Paris. If you are having a bad day, always remember some immigrant waiting for hours at the préfecture (French visa authority) not knowing if they will be living in France or not!
Have a great weekend!