It’s been exactly one month since I moved to Paris.
During that time, it’s been nonstop wine, cheese, brasseries, influencer meetups, fashionable social events, writer salons, museums, picnics, and late-night jazz concerts.
It’s been a whirlwind of adventure and romance.
Just I imagined it would be.
It hasn’t been that way at all.
I just made that up.
Life here has been the exact opposite of that (though that kind of fabulous lifestyle does sound like fun).
I arrived after a much-delayed flight, plopping my jetlagged self into bed and not waking up until the following day. From there, I met my one Parisian friend and her friends for some wine and cheese. That little outing to a park turned into a late-night wine fueled bar crawl that ended at some ’50s-style American sock hop. (Seriously. I couldn’t believe it. Here I am, in a bar in Paris, and people are dressed up and dancing like it’s 1953. It was kind of incredible.)
But, after that wild night, life slowed to a crawl.
I spent my first week here settling in: I got a SIM card, saw a plethora of apartments (and finally picked one), signed up for French classes, and tried to catch up on work. (I thought about joining a gym but, in paperwork-loving France, you need a doctor’s note saying you’re fit enough to join. I’m told most people don’t follow that rule but, for now, I can’t be bothered.)
After that first week, I moved into my new apartment, went to some meetups in hopes of making friends, and flew to Berlin for ITB, the largest travel conference in the world.
Upon returning to Paris, I came down with a terrible cold and spent the last week inside my apartment trying to recover. Just when I had hoped to hit the ground running, life had other ideas.
Now, as I hit my first full month here, I’m finally feeling better (and thanks to spending so long inside, I’m fairly caught up on work).
The timing couldn’t be more perfect. The weather is getting warmer and sunnier again. Over the next few weeks, I start hosting a plethora of visitors, which will finally get me out of my apartment and exploring the city more. (I’ve lined up a lot of activities, which are basically the museums, tours, and shows I’ve yet to see, so my friends are going to get a very off-the-beaten-path look at Paris.)
Life here is very different than what I imagined it to be.
In my head, I imagined hitting the ground running. I imagined perfectly scheduled days balanced with work and play, including regular French classes, meetups, sightseeing, food tours, and nights out. I imagined myself like Owen Wilson’s character from Midnight in Paris where I just wander around town and stumble into this action-packed life.
But, instead, my time here has been similar to when I moved Bangkokwhere I spent much of my early weeks there alone playing video games, discouraged that life just didn’t “happen” to me.
It took a long time to find my groove in that city.
But living in Bangkok taught me two things:
First, life just doesn’t happen. Sitting at my kitchen table doing work isn’t going to show me life in Paris. Neither is going to the same co-working space.
This first month has gone by the in the blink of an eye, and, with only three more left to go, I know I have to make the most of every single day.
I need to go out and make thing happen. I need to be more proactive in doing things.
But, when I think of some of my motivations for coming here — to escape the fast pace of New York City, to write more, to relax, to sleep, to be healthier — I realize that, by those metrics, my first month has been a success.
I’ve done all those things.
Yeah, it would be nice to live this life I imagine in my head. But what I really want is exactly what I’ve been doing.
Now I feel settled in and ready to take on the city.
So, though, I’m 25% of the way through my time in Paris, I still have plenty of time left to accomplish the other things I want to do.
I didn’t come here in hopes of establishing a new life.
I came here for a fresh start and to try out what it’s like to take a really extended holiday to one of my favorites cities in the world. To no longer be just passing through but rather to peel back some of the layers of the onion that is Paris.
No move to a new place is ever going to be easy.
Because the second thing living Bangkok taught me? If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.
Bangkok showed me that I could be self-reliant and independent. It showed me that I could adapt to anything.
I’ve done this before.
And I can do it again.
***I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my time here, so here are some answers to for anyone wondering:
1. How did I find an apartment so quickly?
I got lucky. Someone on Twitter connected me with someone who rented out apartments. And having a decent budget allowed me to find a place quicker. I was going through some agencies and looking at Facebook groups and Le Bon Coin (French Craigslist), but that personal connection made it a lot easier.
Finding an apartment here in Paris is hard even for the French. It’s a long process filled with a lot of paperwork. The way New Yorkers talk about the price of an apartment is the way people here talk about finding an apartment. It’s the first topic of discussion, as a way to bond with strangers.
2. Are you studying French? If so, where?
I was taking French classes at Alliance Française but, disliking the classroom teaching style, dropped out and hired a private tutor. I’m also learning via podcasts and Duolingo.
3. How are you meeting people and making friends as an expat?
There’s a bunch of expat meetup groups I’ve joined, and I started hosting my own meetups. I am also reaching out influencers based in France. But if you know of any cool Parisian locals, let me know!
4. I heard you’re running walking tours. Is that true?
Yep! I started running my own historical walking tours. You can sign up here. I have put up the schedule through the end of May. I do them once a week and they’re free. Come join! If a date is full, join the waitlist. A few people always end up canceling!