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)

33 thoughts on “Paris: year one

    • 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).

  1. 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!

    • 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.

    • 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!

  2. 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.

    • 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!

  3. 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).

    • 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.

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  5. 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!

    • 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!

  6. 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!

    • 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

  7. 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… :)
    middle east

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  9. 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!

    • 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!

  10. 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!

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