Christopher GJ Cooley, Bordeaux

Who are you?

My name is Christopher GJ Cooley, I come from the South-West of England.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I have lived abroad before but on this occasion I moved to Bordeaux at the end of summer in 2013. The main reason was to learn a second language.

What challenges did you face during the move?After being in the country just three days I was stricken down by a sudden crippling malady and had to get myself to hospital, and through hospital, with very limited French language skills.

How did you find somewhere to live? (e.g. how did you locate a suitable property? what was the buying/renting process like?)

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I first found a job. Then I asked around. A friend of a colleague had a friend who was leaving a flat and looking for someone to fill her room. It was simple but I guess I was lucky.

Are there many other expats in your area?

There are certainly a lot of expats in Bordeaux, many people from the UK and the USA.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

I think the relationship is good, Bordeaux feels like a very European city and I’m never made to feel out of place.

What do you like about life where you are?

I’m particularly fond of the urban cycling infrastructure in Bordeaux. I’m also very keen on the region’s red wine!

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Maybe its not such a big deal for a lot of people but coming from England I am not used to constantly being attacked by mosquitoes at night. I HATE MOSQUITOES!

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

I work in a bar and the way French people order – and the drinks that they order – is very different to the UK. In fact it is slowly driving all the English bar staff in Bordeaux insane. One example:

“A beer”

“Um… OK. A lager?”

“Err, yes”

“Pint or a half-pint?”

“Bah, normal.”

What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

The food is great. I haven’t tried many restaurants yet but the ones I have are superb. I have also cooked and tasted some home-cooked classic French dishes.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Be patient, learning a language takes time. Well at least it does for me.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan on staying in France for a while. I have a rough plan in my head to work in the Alps this winter for the ski season.

Christopher shares more information about life in France through his blog Drinking it all in…


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