If someone had told me a year ago that I would walk away from everything to move to Paris, I would have laughed. But here I am, just days away, about to move to THE city. PAR-EE!
And it all happened so quickly.
A year and a half ago, I went on a first date with a handsome, shy French man. After just a short time, he was already inviting me to Paris. I laughed and brushed it off. My natural defense mechanism is sarcasm, and he was just too genuine for my cold Bostonian sensibilities.
He said, “If you can dream it, you can do it”, convinced that one day I would join him in France. It turns out he was right.
We visited Paris after just six months together. It was beautiful. I had been to France before, but this time as we walked around, I secretly imagined what it would be like to live there. I pictured myself walking the cobblestone streets and strolling between Haussmann buildings down to the Seine or a nearby pâtisserie. But it was all just pretend; it wasn’t serious.
But then, life had other plans. My Frenchman was only in the US for 18 months and required an H1B visa to stay. If you know anything about American immigration or the H1B visa process, you understand there’s no relief until you have your visa-stamped passport in hand. As it turns out, the application volume this year skyrocketed, only leaving about a 30% chance of actually being accepted. Pas de chance. We had to face it; my Frenchman had to leave the country.
There were two choices: break up or go to Paris.
I was incredibly torn. I didn’t want him to leave, but I also wasn’t sure it wasn’t crazy to follow a man across an ocean. That’s a big step and how could I know if he was the right man to do that for? How could I leave my job? My family? My life as I knew it? It was a terrifying prospect, and I had to decide sooner rather than later. Even though I knew my Frenchman desperately wanted me to come with him, it was not an easy decision.
I eased into it by first researching women who moved abroad for/with their significant others: how they did it, what they learned, what I needed to know. I reached out to professionals in my field in Paris to learn what job opportunities might exist. I started a blog to hash out my own feelings and argue the pros and cons for myself. Before I knew it, I was writing French cover letters, applying for jobs, and listing my different visa options.
I decided to move to Paris.
What would my parents say? I was afraid they would think it was a bad idea or ask me questions I couldn’t answer. Questions I had my own doubts about: where the relationship was headed, whether he was “the one”? In the end, they weren’t entirely surprised and shied away from any hard questions. It was a relief, but it was only one hurdle.
I applied to many jobs in Paris, but few responded and the ones that did vaporized when they learned I needed visa sponsorship. I did everything I could but still, no dice. Until a miracle occurred that changed everything.
Over conversation, the CEO of my company himself suggested that I go to France. I set up a meeting tout de suite, and in a matter of days we agreed that I would keep my job and work remotely from Paris. Problem solved. Suddenly, I had no reason not to go. What’s the worst that could happen? Whether the relationship succeeded or failed, I’d be in Paris. Or I could come home.
Instantly, all other pieces were set in motion. I had three months to plan every detail of this wild plan. I moved out of my apartment, and began shedding my belongings.
Those weeks are a complete blur. I sent my Frenchman off at the end of July when his visa expired, and immediately went into production mode. I worked endlessly, spending every weekend in August packing, donating and discarding all that I owned.
Six weeks to departure and I was living out of suitcases at my friend’s house. I thought that time would crawl, but here we are in the last few days before a plane takes me to my new home. Paris. I still can’t believe it.
Curious to know what happens next? Watch out for my regular posts in INSPIRELLE as I tackle my new French life!