Paris: year one

One year ago I left everything and everyone that had composed my life for nearly 12 years, and moved from NYC to Paris. I remember the moments leading to this day so well. The great anticipation mixed with nostalgia. The fear outweighed by excitement. I never once doubted or questioned my decision, and one year later I feel even more confident having followed my heart. 

The journey has been an insightful and often difficult one. As anyone living an expat life well knows, in Paris or anywhere. (I will refrain from getting into details, but oh the stories I could tell…) 

Here are my top 10 ‘rules to live by’, based on what I have learned thus far. In no particular order.

1. let go of expectations (or prepare to be disappointed)

2. learn humility (perhaps the most important lesson of all)

3. follow your instincts (trust yourself completely)

4. laugh at yourself whenever possible (otherwise you might cry)

5. learn the language to know the people and culture (still working on that…)

6. indulge guilt-free in the pleasure of local food and drink (without over-indulging)

7. take time to discover yourself (outside the context of work)

8. don’t be driven solely by the ego (period.)

9. appreciate the simple pleasures (never take them for granted)

10. follow your dreams (and believe in them)

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33 Comments

  1. Paris Paul August 20, 2010

    Beautiful list! My personal rule for traveling has always been: Don’t look for the similarities, search out the differences. Thank you for the insights!

    Reply
    • Kasia August 22, 2010

      Thanks Paul! So true that you enjoy a new culture much more when you accept and seek out the differences (versus looking for what is familiar and comfortable).

      Reply
  2. Isolde August 20, 2010

    After talking about it for years (or forever, it seems) I am moving to Paris in September. Theoretically for one year but something tells me it will be for longer. Your #1 rule (Let go of expectations) will be a tough one… #6, #9 and #10 will be fun!

    Reply
    • Kasia August 22, 2010

      Very exciting!! It’s quite an experience, and well worth the many struggles. Keep me posted on how it’s going for you and let me know if I can be of any help. Most of all, enjoy the process.

      Reply
  3. Sion @ paris (im)perfect August 20, 2010

    A great list, Kasia! I agree completely. I’m wrapping up year 4 and hitting my stride. Hope your journey here continues to be insightful and full of joy.

    Reply
    • Kasia August 22, 2010

      Thanks Sion! I had no idea you have been in Paris 4 years already!! I’m sure you have many more insights to share, looking forward to a proper Paris expat chat soon!

      Reply
  4. Erica August 20, 2010

    Thanks for these insights. They are all so true. I’ve been in Paris quite a while, but they still totally apply. I must say that it is SO important to learn the language. It really helps you integrate into the culture so, bravo for doing just that. I know how hard it is. It’s so worth it.

    Reply
    • Kasia August 22, 2010

      Ah, the French language. Still struggling with that. You are right that the key to truly being immersed in the culture is being able to communicate with the people, read the newspapers…. S L O W L Y I’m getting there!

      Reply
  5. Andi August 20, 2010

    Bravo! It took me a long time to learn some of these, some I never learned! Congrats on making it a year with some sanity. I did three years and have now been back for four and am ready to go back and do it all over again (which at the moment is just a fantasy).

    Reply
    • Kasia August 22, 2010

      Some you need to keep learning again and again…a reprogramming of sorts. I do have a little sanity left and think the hardest part is over (TBD!) Kudos to you for having gone through the process and being so much culturally richer for it.

      Reply
  6. […] Last week Kasia celebrated her one year blogoversary with friends. This week in “Paris: year one” she reflected back on a year in Paris and shared “10 rules to live by” for […]

    Reply
  7. Cynthia August 21, 2010

    I think a lot of expats struggle to adapt and adjust but are rarely introspective about it. Great post. Happy one year in Paris!

    Reply
    • Kasia August 22, 2010

      Thanks Cynthia! It’s been great sharing this expat experience with you. Introspection loves company!

      Reply
  8. Transcendental Neon Blob August 21, 2010

    Bonjour. Wonderful set of rules you have there.

    Reply
    • Kasia August 22, 2010

      Merci! Took me a while to figure some of them out.

      Reply
  9. Ana August 22, 2010

    Happy one year in Paris! I need to remind myself of these tips 😉

    Reply
    • Kasia August 22, 2010

      Happy one year to you too Ana! Let’s keep reminding each other…

      Reply
  10. CopyStrands August 23, 2010

    So nice to know about your blog! It’s nice to meet other Parisian lovers. Thanks for your sweet comment and congrats on your first year in Paris!

    Reply
    • Kasia August 25, 2010

      Nice to ‘meet’ you too!

      Reply
  11. Jamie August 29, 2010

    25 years ago I packed two suitcases, a few hundred dollars and left everything – job, family, apartment and belongings – behind and moved to Paris. It was scary and precarious and it took me two years to finally find my place and settle down and I’ve never regretted the decision. Several years later my French husband and I picked up and moved to Italy, albeit with a job, but it was also just as scary and just as exciting. Life is an adventure if you let it happen. I also follow the rules you have listed, evry single one, and how much more fun life is when you are open to adventure and to others, when you can indulge and enjoy all around you while being able to laugh at yourself, your mistakes, your foibles and just open yourself up to discovery. Lovely!

    Reply
    • Kasia September 7, 2010

      I love to hear others stories of courage and faith, those who take the ‘path not often followed’. Bravo! Thank you for sharing your story, Jamie. Keep on living the adventure…and cooking!

      Reply
  12. Justine April 10, 2011

    Bonjour Madame Kasia! I read your love story and thought it was so romantic and beautiful. I’m 16 and I absolutely adore your achievements and your perspective on life. I hope to travel the world one day and find the perfect prince as well… I love France too, so basically your love story is what I dream about. Best of luck for you and your Italian Prince!
    -JustineYvonneLyon

    Reply
    • Kasia April 15, 2011

      Salut Justine! Nice to hear from a fellow francophile, traveler and romantic! May you never stop to dream and follow your heart wherever it may lead you. (Maybe even to Paris!)

      All the best – Kasia

      Reply
  13. saumya June 19, 2011

    this is amazing.
    you should write a book.. :)
    i love : laugh at yourself whenever possible (otherwise you might cry)
    it’s sooo true..
    i live an expat life as well.
    really less stuff for a fifteen year old to explore actually here.. :( hehe
    but it’s real good to know about your life experiences..
    i wouldn’t really call myself a romantic but i love your blog. i am a HUGEE fan of paris.. i so wanna visit it but just no time :(
    anyways hope you have a lovely life ahead… :)
    saumya
    middle east

    Reply
  14. […] Love in the City of Lights and 10 golden rules to live by […]

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  15. Minaliriel September 21, 2011

    U are sooooo right!!! I am since July in Paris and one month after arriving I felt in love with an Phrasseur par excellence! Now I am bit heart-sick but that is okay – I read somewhere this belongs to be in Paris some times xD But when I felt over your blog (linked by another) some days ago and as a first entry I read this one and it is so true !!!!!!!!! I can’t say more than agreeing! No I don’t have any expectations on french men, play also the game, find about myself as much as possible and my place here in this wonderful city!

    Reply
    • Kasia September 23, 2011

      Welcome to Paris! Sorry about your heartache but keep smiling. Many adventures await, particularly when you least expect. With or without men involved! Enjoy this time getting to know yourself and Paris. Keep in touch!

      Reply
  16. Minaliriel October 3, 2011

    Yeah I hope so that a lot of adventures are waiting for me here in the City of Lights! 😉

    It’s great to be here … some differences between the Austrian “Northern” – Beer drining part of Europe and the French “Southern” – Vine drinking part of Europe I have been recognized in the month still I am here. So strange – these countries are so close but so far away in truth!

    Unfortunately I have these days so less time to spend time to read your blog from the beginning 😉 I hope I’ll find some – but this city never sleeps!

    Reply
  17. Natalia April 4, 2012

    Great list!
    I would also add: Don’t think too much and overthink everything (It can be dangerous ) as I discovered lately :)

    Reply
    • Kasia April 23, 2012

      Thanks! Great addition.

      Reply
  18. year three August 20, 2012

    […] Year one was the hardest of all. Refining myself and discovering my place within a new context. […]

    Reply
  19. […] Last week Kasia celebrated her one year blogoversary with friends. This week in “Paris: year one” she reflected back on a year in Paris and shared “10 rules to live by” for […]

    Reply

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