After living for nearly three years in the most British city of Europe, Hélène tells us her story for the third article about French expats. Now working as a retail supervisor in a restaurant in the hub of London, Hélène remembers why she moved there: “I was bored in France, I wanted a change of scenery and improve on my English. I chose London because it´s not that scary to move to a city close to Paris, because I really love its atmosphere and I already had friends there.”
Preparation and integration
Thanks to her advanced level of English that she built up at school but also during her spare time by watching TV series or interviews with artists on the Internet in English, Hélène arrived with many assets up her sleeve, even though it was not easy from day one: “I was surrounded with people from all over the world at work like at home, in my shared rental, their English was not that hard to understand and mine improved in little time and my word power got a lot better. The hardest part was to get used to the accent of London. At first, I had my customers repeat themselves but it soon became unnecessary.”
So, Paris or London? Hélène just fell in love with the English city: “London is a busy city, people are in the same rush as in Paris and their lives here are not necessarily better and yet, everyone is friendlier, smiling and courteous. I was a bit taken aback when I was first called “honey” or “darling” for bringing a coffee to a customer, but it’s such a nice thing to hear. I’m also really fond of the way they all go for a beer after work. I never get tired of seeing this crowd in suits holding a pint! It’s so much nicer than rushing home right after work.” On top of the security and the reputation of gentlemen behavior the English live up to, London is always humming some music, to Hélène’s utter delight: “For a big fan of pop-rock music like me, London is like heaven – and I don’t even need to buy concert tickets! In pubs and even in the streets, there are always such talented musicians.”
A new home?
Apart from the Dragibus sweets that are not retailed in Great-Britain, Hélène misses her family and “mom’s cooking. The worse thing is actually the lack of long conversations with family and friends, even though there are many ways to communicate. But a computer or a phone are just not as real as a face to face conversation.”
Just for the sake of saying one bad thing about England, Hélène adds laughing : “I am somewhat scared of English sweets!” Still, by no means she would leave: “My long term project is to become a writer and London is such an inspiring city, I see no good reason for me to come back.”