Archive

Posts Tagged ‘expatriate life’

CNN profiles benefits of Lyon over Paris

I love Paris and Lyon, having lived in both cities. I know the advantages and disadvantages that come with everyday living there. Paris retains an aura of excitement for some, but Lyon certainly has a lot to offer in terms of quality of life for French and expats, on a smaller scale. Lyon remains relatively unknown, though, compared to its big brother Paris.

Which is why I’m glad to see CNN recently publish a profile of the city and its advantages.

You can read the article here, titled “8 ways Lyon outshines Paris”. Be sure to scroll through the images and captions as well as the article itself. I personally think Notre Dame de Paris is more impressive (at least in history) than the one in Lyon, but besides that I agree that there is a lot to discover in Lyon.

What do you think of Lyon?

Lyon CNN

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Expats

I saw this really interesting post on Expatica France, written by Maria Foley. You should check out her blog I was an Expat Wife. I think #5 and #6 particularly resonate with me. Since my re-entry into the US since September 2012, I realize increasingly that I’m a better person for having lived abroad several years in France. It has prepared me well for many things.

What other habits do you find helpful in adapting to and succeeding at expatriate life?

I was an expat wife: The 7 habits of highly effective expats
Maria Foley takes a look at effective habits that make expats cope with integration into a new life and culture when moving abroad.

On Monday I presented my interpretation of Stephen Covey’s seven habits as seen through the lens of expatriation. Today all I’m borrowing from Mr. Covey is that iconic title. Here, then, are seven of the habits cultivated by highly effective expats:

1. They prepare: They take the time to study the new culture before they get on the plane, and get a head start on learning the local language. Either by reading, talking to other expats, or taking cross-cultural training, they develop an understanding of culture shock, learn how to recognise its symptoms and how to manage them. They’re then able to form realistic expectations of what lies ahead.

2. They introspect: They examine their own values, strengths and weaknesses. They gauge their tolerance for ambiguity, take stock of their resiliency reserves, and assess their patience levels. The work they did above shows them what’s coming; the work they do here shows them how they’ll respond to it.

3. They keep an open mind: They accept that things will be different and that constant comparisons to their home culture is counterproductive. They peel back the layers of their preconceived notions and stereotypes until there’s nothing left. They resist judgment. They don’t automatically blame everything that goes wrong on the country or its people.

4. They connect: They establish a strong in-country social support system of both expat and local friends. They nurture their family relationships. They keep in touch with loved ones back home, just not 24/7. They make a point of surrounding themselves with positive people, limiting exposure to the bitter and the bigoted expats.

5. They bend: They consciously adapt their behaviour to meet local norms. They’re flexible, but they know where to draw the line so they don’t compromise their values.

6. They take (reasonable) risks: They try new foods, activities, and experiences. They make mistakes and learn from them. They maintain a sense of curiosity and wonder that keeps them engaged in the here and now.

7. They keep a sense of perspective. Effective expats know that life has its ups and downs, no matter where you live. While they’re grateful for the chance to swim in a different pool, they know it comes at a cost. And yet they accept the downside as the price they pay for the richness and texture of expatriate life.

What can you add to my list of habits?

Maria Foley is a Canadian who lived and raised a family as an expat for many years. Aside from writing for Suite 101, Foley still writes about her expat life on her blog, I was an expat wife, and is currently working on a book about overcoming the challenges of repatriation. You can follow her on Twitter at @iwasanexpatwife.

Expat relocation workshop in Paris Oct 1

September 27th, 2011 6 comments

The “BLOOM Where You’re Planted” seminar and workshop is annual event organized by the Women of the American Church of Paris (WOAC). They have an all-day program full of workshops on adjusting to expat life in France.

It will take place this Saturday Oct. 1 at the American Church of Paris (in the 7th arrondissement).

You can find more details about the event here.

Bad habits to avoid as an expat abroad

This article comes from Expatica and talks about the behavior of “ugly Expats” rather than the stereotypical “ugly American” image.

You’re probably familiar with the expression “Ugly American,” a pejorative and stereotypical term for US expatriates who alienate the locals with their loud and disrespectful behaviour. It comes from the 1958 book The Ugly American, a cautionary tale that tells the story of corrupt and ethnocentric American bureaucrats in Southeast Asia.

One of the characters in the book characterizes Ugly Americans like this:
“A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They’re loud and ostentatious.”

Ugliness: it’s not just for Americans anymore
This being the age of globalization, it seems unfair to single out Americans as the champions of boorish behaviour abroad. In the spirit of inclusiveness, I’d like to propose we retire the expression Ugly American and replace it with Ugly Expat. Cultural disrespect is an equal opportunity sport, after all – one the entire world is eager to play.

The habits to adopt if you’d like to be an “ugly Expat” are below. They are also the habits to avoid if you want a rich cultural experience. I advise the latter!

I have many French friends (indeed, my girlfriend of three years is French) and believe interaction with the locals is key in my experience here. Not only does it help my French language skills, it helps me understand the different cultural perspectives that are at play here. That does not mean I do not mingle with expatriates, as I actively do. I just don’t limit myself to a certain group.

Being at the cross-roads of cultural interaction can be confusing at times in terms of identity (which country do I call home?) but in the end I think it’s rewarding.

Keep an open mind when moving abroad. There will be awkward times, misunderstandings and sometimes discomfort, but that’s part of the learning experience.

1. Don’t waste your valuable time researching your destination or its people before you move – a country’s history or dominant cultural values are no concern of yours. And for heaven’s sake, don’t throw away your money on any of that cross-cultural training mumbo jumbo – everyone knows what a scam that is.

2. Likewise, don’t bother reading up on the causes and symptoms of culture shock, or how to alleviate it. That’s what Valium is for. (Pack lots!)

3. Isolate yourself. Shut yourself up in your compound/condo and refuse all contact with local people. If there’s an exclusive expatriate club nearby, rejoice: you’re saved! Choose your new friends with care, weeding out any prospects who have ‘Gone native’. (Being too chummy with the locals is a dead giveaway.) Successful candidates will have already aced the 12 steps and will embrace you as a kindred spirit.

4. Show off your wealth, especially if you live in a developing nation. Your baubles and fancy toys will breed admiration and respect among the impoverished masses, who will revere you as a role model.

5. Under no circumstances should you eat local food. They eat that unsanitary crap because they don’t know any better; you do. (You can’t be too careful – who knows what you might pick up?) If you’re offered anything unrecognizable, be sure to show your disdain by peppering your refusal with terms such as “dysentery” and “intestinal worms.” Gagging noises are optional.

6. Let everyone know how backward the country is, and how much better things are back home. I can’t stress this enough – never let an opportunity to compare the two countries pass you by. It’s your duty to teach the local populace a thing or two, and opening their eyes to their own inferiority will endear you to them. (Bonus points if you can insult cultural and religious icons or other objects of reverence.)

7. Speak your own language exclusively, especially if it happens to be English. (If the locals haven’t bowed to global pressure and learned it already, that’s their problem.) In a pinch, speaking very s-l-o-w-l-y and very LOUDLY should help them understand you. Trust me; they’ll love being talked to as though they were five years old. If they still don’t understand, throw your hands up in disgust and walk away, muttering under your breath. There’s some body language that won’t get lost in translation!

8. Don’t try to understand – much less accommodate – local customs. If it’s not The Way Things Are Back Home, it’s irrelevant. (Let them know they’re not fooling you with that siesta thing, for example. Everyone knows daytime napping is nothing but sheer laziness. The steaming midday temperature is just an excuse.)

9. Treat your household staff like the servants they are. They don’t need a day off, and you and I both know that hot water would only spoil them. Since it’s for their own good, I’m sure they’ll thank you later.

10. Social networking was invented for people stuck in godforsaken places like this. Spend all day on Facebook, Twitter, and email, lying about how much fun you’re having. Then log onto Farmville and spend some quality time doing whatever it is people on Farmville do.

11. Drink. A lot. It makes life so much fun, both for you and those around you.

12. Take your frustrations out on your husband. It’s all his fault, anyway. If it weren’t for his precious career, you’d be back home among people who matter, instead of wasting the best years of your life in this hellhole.

Why London attracts French expats

February 24th, 2011 2 comments

The Economist has a feature this week about the growing French expatriate population in the Greater London area: 400,000 and counting, according to some estimates, with cultural, economic and social implications that go along with such a presence. In fact, the French Parliament will soon have a new constituency to represent French citizens in Britain and Northern Europe.

It turns out that in interviews with expats, some of the reasons for the flock include: high-paying job opportunities, lower income and corporate taxes, a chance to raise one’s children bilingual and, perhaps most importantly, a different “international feel” about London that many French do not find in London. Excerpts below.

What do you think of this article? Do you think France is less business-friendly than the UK, and what do you think should be done to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, lower taxes and more business-friendly policies conducive to private enterprise and investment? Is President Sarkozy on the right track?

The French community in London
Paris-on-Thames
The French influx to London suggests what governments can and can’t do to boost their cities’ allure

“…French Londoners are often in their prime. The archetype is a banker with children at the Lycée Français in South Kensington, the established hub of the community (“the 17th arrondissement”), who misses the food and weather of home. The City, a bigger financial centre than Paris, is keen on French workers, especially traders—products of an educational system that turns out mathematics whizzes in droves. It is rational interests, rather than cultural affinity, that draw this type of Frenchman to London: high-paid work, lower taxes (especially on wealth), and the chance to raise bilingual children…

…The superior beauty and efficiency of Paris often come at the price of dynamism. Many young French arrivals in London say they are fleeing rigid social codes, hierarchical corporate culture and a sense of distance from the global swirl of people and ideas. “It is hard to go back once you have tasted the internationalism here,” says Jessica Moyal, who works in private equity.

French twenty-somethings see London as a “gateway to globalisation”, agrees Édouard Braine, the French consul-general, who compares the ritual sojourns in the city taken by his younger compatriots to the globe-trotting gap years favoured by their British peers. Not all secure high-flying jobs: many come to study, or to work as au pairs or waiters while perfecting their English, or to find a niche in London’s huge creative industries. Many young French of African or Arab origin also say that there is less discrimination in Britain….

….Far more likely to pull talented French people back home than Britain’s economic doldrums is the prospect of France becoming more business-friendly. Nicolas Sarkozy is chipping away at taxes and regulations, and wants Paris to expand through private-sector development. That sort of thing is within the gift of politicians. But replicating the loose, globalised way of life in London—the anything-goes culture that draws a certain kind of young French person—will be much harder.”

%d bloggers like this: