This blog post is an interview with my friend Nora from Dublin, who moved to Paris last March.
What motivated your move to Paris?
It was the right timing. I put my studies on hold and finding a job in Ireland would have been difficult, the wages are low and, with no degree, chances are that the job itself would not have been rewarding. So I thought if I was to do such a thing, doing it in France would at least add the excitement of experience abroad and improve my language skills.
How was your first month?
Rather easy. I’m not that far away from home, I virtually had nothing to prepare, apart from what I would for a regular holiday. And that’s how was the beginning in Paris – tourism and fun. Accommodation is ridiculously expensive, but thanks to couch surfing and some fellow Irish friends I met, I managed until I could get a proper shared rental.
How do you face the expensive French lifestyle?
It’s hard, because there are so many tempting things to buy, to visit, to eat. I have to prioritise – pay the rent first! I work as an English teacher in two private schools and I give private tuition as well. Teaching is not a passion of mine, but I’ve learned to like it, which is good because schools pay little money! There are many ways to dress and eat at a fair price, the biggest issue is finding a place to live that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Many move outside Paris, but I wanted to be at the heart of the city, so I spend a lot on a tiny room.
What were the hardest thing to get used to?
The filth, especially in summer. The metro is crowded, stinky, sticky,… Many districts are also very poorly taken care of. French administration is also very complicated, with forms and letters written in formal French. But there are so many positive things I get in return – access to a lot of cultural events, books, drinking a glass of wine in the Quartier Latin or even just sitting on my bed and thinking “Wow. I live in Paris.”
How’s your French coming along?
Slowly but surely! I learned French at school, until my leaving certificate. It’s a lot different being here though. People speak very fast and appreciate that you try to speak French, but they don’t always have the patience or the time to repeat themselves or speak slowly. It’s a matter of practising as much as you can. The most frustrating part is when I don’t get puns and the French love those.
Do you miss Dublin?
I miss the climate! Never too cold, never too hot. I miss my family and friends, but I know I will come back eventually, so I try to enjoy my stay as long as possible.