Who are you?
Hi! My name is Eva, I’m 24 years old and I come from Germany.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
The first time I moved abroad was in August 2014. I came to Paris to spend an Erasmus semester at Université Paris Dauphine.This experience has changed my life I would say. I didn’t feel quite happy in my life in Germany. My studies weren’t as interesting as I would have liked them to be, I didn’t have many friends in university even though I had always been a person who loved being surrounded by people.
All of that changed in Paris. As the university was a lot smaller than my university back home, I easily made new friends and it was also easier to participate in class – something I had really been missing. Steadily, I regained my joy in life. Everything was just so much more exciting. Life was an adventure. Every day was a challenge. I just loved speaking French on a regular basis and to learn more about French culture.
When I went home from my Erasmus, I was kind of depressed and I decided to go back to France as soon as possible to do my Master’s degree in Communications there. And that’s what I did in 2016. Now, I live in Nancy in Eastern France (Le Grand Est) and I absolutely love it. I immediately fell in love with the city that is a lot smaller than Paris but very lively and full of students. Coming here was truly one of the best decisions of my life.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Luckily, due to my move to Paris two years before, I already kind of knew what to do. I knew how to open a bank account, how to get a phone card etc. Nevertheless, it was the first time I really had to find an apartment. But even here I was lucky and I found one in no matter of time. But as anyone else, the first week or so I was a little homesick. But I made new friends, and the homesickness went away.
How did you find somewhere to live?
I was looking on several websites like seloger.com, pap.fr, leboncoin.fr and some Facebook pages. As my hometown in Germany is only 3 hours away from Nancy, I scheduled several appointments to visit apartments from home and went there for two days to go apartment hunting. I think I had 13 appointments and the first apartment I visited turned out to be mine in the end. Beforehand, I had printed out 13 dossiers de location to present myself to the landlords. Hindsight, this was quite exaggerated. But me being used to the apartment situation in Paris, I thought that the competition for apartments would be very strong, and that’s why I wanted to be prepared to give my dossier immediately in every flat that I liked.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Nancy is full of students and also full of students from abroad. I know many of them but as I study in a regular French Master, I am not very involved in the expat community in Nancy. I was luckily well received by all my French classmates ☺
What is your relationship like with the locals?
As I said before, my French classmates adopted me without any problem. I feel perfectly integrated. Sometimes they even say that I’m already French which is the biggest compliment for me.
What do you like about life where you are?
I love that Nancy has a lot to offer even though it is a small city. Due to the abundance of students, there is always something going on in a bar. But even the city itself offers a lot – from Jazz Festivals to Circuses. At the moment, there is something called “Jardin éphémère” – a garden built on the main place “Place Stanislas”.
After all, I really love the French lifestyle and mentality. I feel a lot more at home than in Germany.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Sometimes it’s sad being away from family and friends. But luckily Nancy isn’t too far away from my German hometown, so I can visit from time to time.
Also, during the French elections this year, I was kind of sad to not be able to vote.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
I can’t name the biggest one. After all, France and Germany aren’t so far away from each other and the culture shock might be a little smaller than maybe between Germany and China. Nevertheless, there are more differences than one could expect. French people care less about rules, are more relaxed, complain more and love discussions. They adore their country and aren’t afraid to show that (compared to Germany who only show its flag during Soccer World Cup). What I really love about French mentality is their relation to food. Quality is more appreciated than quantity which is exactly the opposite in Germany.
I could mention a million small differences. But that would be too long to elaborate here. That’s why I have my own blog and YouTube channel where I speak exactly about this topic.
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
I was vegetarian when I came here and French cuisine is a lot about meat. Hence, I had problems finding food in French restaurants. Now, I sometimes eat meat, so it has become a little easier. What I really like about the food in France is the quality (as I mentioned before). Everything is more expensive than in Germany, but at least, it is always great and delicious. I for example never had a bad pizza here.
Unfortunately, France is not a country of tea lovers. Hence, the selection of teas in the supermarket is rather poor. The same goes for salty snacks in bakeries. Back home in Germany, I always ate pretzels with cheese. They either don’t exist here or they are very gross. But to make up for that loss, they have a lot of amazing pâtisserie!
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Learn the language! French people really appreciate when you try to speak French – even if you make mistakes.
Otherwise, prepare all the necessary documents to open a bank account, buy a phone card or get internet. It will save you a lot of time and stress.
And last but not least: Do it! It’s a great experience!
What are your plans for the future?
I finish my last semester in February. Afterwards, I have to do an internship in Communications. For the moment, I am applying in startups in Paris to join my boyfriend who already lives in the capital (we met in Nancy). If everything goes well, I would really love to stay in France, find work in my field of studies and apply for citizenship which I can already do next year in September. In the long-term, me and my boyfriend, we would like to move to Lyon and open our own company. Fingers crossed ☺
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