zeldathemes
Real insight on French culture from a French native point of view.
Mostly run by Em, 26, living in Paris.
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Reassurance post for French students / future expat’

french student experience

You were asking for expat’s experiences in France, so I thought I’d give mine ^^! I’m currently living in Provence and working as an English tutor. At the same time I’ve been attending lycée to further help me learn the language. I just wanted to say that I’ve met some of the loveliest people here; despite the language barrier they’ve welcomed me with open arms and done their best to make me feel welcomed. Probably the best place I’ve visited would be Roussillon - if you’re in the south, this is a must-see! Oh, and my best moments have always been with my nez friends: discovering a local cuisine with them, partying with them… all! :) Definitely take the leap and study abroad! it won’t always be easy, there’ll certainly be some difficult times, but it’s the good times that you’ll remember for the rest of your life, not the bad. :)

By sophie-en-europe 

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Hi there, I’m just going to share a quick story about one of my favorite stories from when I studied abroad in France. For starters, There are numerous stories that I could tell but one that sticks out to me the most is quite mundane to be honest. I loved going to the grocery store with my host mother. It was a time where I got to work on my French and compare the differences between my culture and France’s but it also allowed me to connect with my host mother. My host family was fantastic.

By pshwhaturl

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student reassurance post!

Salut!  I’m an American who spent about 18 months in Nancy.  It’s a great (albeit, slightly overlooked) city!  My favorite memories were just getting drinks at a café in centre ville or on Place Stanislas with friends.  The people, in general, were very kind and for the most part, I had very positive interactions with everyone I came in contact with.  Once, I was waiting for the bus when a woman struck up a conversation with me.  After a few minutes, we realized that her daughter was a student in one of my classes (I was an English assistant in a collège).  She invited me over for dinner the following night, and all of her daughter’s friends (most were my students as well) came over to chat with me about my life and American things, like Gossip Girl and Michael Jackson.

By filleindomptee

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I saw your request for former exchange students who lived in France to talk about their positive experiences. I have to say that I will always remember my very first day in France. I’d never been so far away from home, I was terrified, and my french was absolute crap. The sheer number of complete strangers who made sure I was ok was phenomenal. I reached Saint Etienne, my host city, and two men on the bus made sure I got to my dorm without getting lost, even though they didn’t know me at all. <3

By bakazaru7

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Coucou! I’m currently studying/working in Paris. I received a scholarship to travel the country and write about the food. My favorite trip was to Le Havre, where a local restaurant owner sat down and started talking to me. We talked about the history of Le Havre, and why it’s so different from everywhere else. It shocks people when I tell them this, but it’s honestly one of my favorite cities in France. 

-frenchpeas

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Hi there! Just wanted to share my awesome experience while in France. I was there for about five months doing study abroad, and what really made my trip was plugging into the things I like to do back home. For me, that was doing service (teaching in highgschools) and going to church. I was able to make a lot of really good friends both ways, teachers and fashion students, expats from other countries and a lot of really sweet French people who are still my friends. And the best part is, once you find your group and bring your hobbies and interests into play in another country, it immediately begins to feel like home and you become more at ease. The friends I made in Paris are some of the most loyal and genuine I’ve ever made and I’m excited to see a number of them this summer in NYC! 

By today-isawindingroad 

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Well, I spent one semester in Besançon at a language institute studying French.  It was really hard to integrate into French life because I was at a school with only international students all day long.  The best thing that I did was live with a host family.  All of my friends lived in CROUS housing.  They were miserable and only spoke English because they were always together.  My family was incredible; they taught me the history of the region, how to cook, we watched television together, and they made sure that I had time to sit and talk every night.  I wound up loving it so much, that I came back in the fall as a lectrice in the local university.  So, my recommendation is, wherever possible (and push if you need to), to live with a host family or in a colocation.  They aren’t too difficult to find in France!  Another piece of advice from my time here as a teacher, find the local university’s conversation table for English, or start one of your own, and make yourself available as a native speaker. You’ll make friends this way, and you and your new friends can split your time speaking French and English!

By francypantsmmp

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Thanks to all who submitted!

Share more stories! Send yours :) 

Hi! Im currently living in London but i am bilingual so i speak english and french. My mother said after i finish school i should go to france to study at university. I was just wondering, would it take a lot of time to get used to 'living' in paris? i have family there so i know what its like but living is a whole other experience. Would you say that its completely different ?

Anonymous

I never went to London, I can’t compare. Can anyone help? 

Both are great and big cities, but I can’t help to think of London as less “agressive” superficialy (people are slighlty more open and relax and polite) but more difficult to really connect with people in the long run… As for university, the atmosphere will totally change according the university you choose. Cost of life in London and Paris are very much alike…
Thanks! 
Salut, I got back from Paris yesterday & I'm totally in love with this city! So much that I really think about moving there one day. Our French bus driver and tourist guide mentioned that you have to earn at least 5000€ net - not necesssarily bc the rent is that high but just to get considered for a flat. So is this true? How much do I have to earn to live in Paris? He also mentioned "grande Paris" & I think that's totally crazy, making the city 25x bigger. What do the Parisians think about it?


Well, as a foreigner, you do need to have a big salary because nobody can vouch for you. French people need a salary that is at least three times bigger than the rent + one or (better) two people vouching (usually your parents). The fact is that many people want to live here so the flats owners only choose the best candidates. However, there are other options, like roommates, students residences… You can contact your embassy in France, they’ll give you tips. 

That’s why I often say that coming to Paris isn’t necessarily the best option for a foreigner cause life here is pretty hard. There’s a lot of competition, whether it’s for a job, a flat, a degree… France is not Paris only, there are very great cities and you can take a train and go to Paris for the week-end and still live the Parisian dream anyway! Some of other cities are very Parisian-like, such as Bordeaux or La Rochelle. It’s worth checking them out! 

Regarding “le grand Paris”, technically Paris is very small city. It’s something like 10% of New-York… This is nothing you can’t deal with! “Grand Paris” is all about connecting the suburbs to find room for all the people wanting to live here. Those suburbs can be very convenient, especially if you’re looking for quite a big flat (in Paris, you can only find very small ones) or even a house to rent. There are some very chic places, such as Saint-Cloud (Christian-ish bourgeoisie), Boulogne-Billancourt/Neuilly-sur-Seine (rich people), Courbevoie (bohos mostly). I personally think it’s a good thing to create that “Grand Paris” because Paris … is… very… small…  xD 

Salut. I was wondering what's a good way to make friends in Paris? I know it may be hard, but I'm hoping not impossible. I'm a 19 year old girl who is going to live in Paris from October 15 to March of next year. Any suggestions? Also, I speak French well, but I'm by no means fluent. I understand more than I can speak. Merci.

Anonymous

Go out as much as possible and try to avoid other Anglophone people. I’m saying this ‘cause foreign students tend to team up and they end up staying together without meeting anyone. So go to concerts, movies, exhibitions… Do that alone if you feel like you can do it, it’s the best way. Don’t hesitate to start the conversation with a French person, try to impose yourself (kindly of course) since French won’t make any effort to get in contact with you. 

Also, you can use that website http://www.meetup.com/ to find stuff to do with people you don’t know. There are many groups available, many activities so many chances to get to meet a bunch of cool people! 

Try to find info at your French school or university about students groups or associations you could join. That’s a great way to get yourself introduced!

Hope this helps :)  

PS : the fact that you’re not completely fluent is not a problem at all. French really don’t care about that: or they’ll try to help you find your words in French or they’ll offer to speak in English. The only “problem” with French is that they stay in their group and they don’t necessarily try to find new friends or to stay in touch with people they meet. It’s your job to maintain the friendships you get by suggesting meetings like movies, cafés, exhibitions, concerts, whatever you’re into. But really, don’t worry about your level in French, it’s more than fine :) 

Hey, firstly I love your blog! Secondly I was wondering if you knew any useful job-searching websites for France as I am planning to spend a year there? Thanks in advance :) xxx

Anonymous

Emploi.com

PoleEmploi

Monster.fr

Jobétudiant.net