I took classes for 3 years in middle/high school, went to a few meet-ups, and practiced whenever my family from Tahiti was in town. I was far from conversational though, and knew I would have to find an English-speaking company in order to work abroad. Over the course of 2 years, I started with my own company (who had an engineering office in France) and also reached out to similar American companies located in the countries I wanted to live. If you’re interested in tech, most large companies also have European offices and are used to relocating American employees abroad (Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon…) My high-level advice would be: be persistent and have patience.
This past weekend was one of reflection and planning for the future. For the past decade, my #1 goal was to get a job here in Paris. Now that I’ve accomplished that, I’m sort of lost in terms of what to work towards next. Of course I’m celebrating and enjoying every moment of my time here, but I always operate better with a larger goal in mind. Whenever I catch myself entering a slump, it’s always important for me to sit down and check in on how I’m trending towards my long-term goals.
Those who know me well know that I’ve had my entire 20’s planned out by the 6th-month mark… since age 14. I find comfort in structure, in planning, and in always being prepared to check off the next milestone.
However, I felt myself constantly chasing the next A+, the next promotion, or some other reward at work reassuring me of my success. In Paris, the challenges I face in my personal life now exceed those I face at work (not to say my job’s easy). I’m learning that 1.) I can also find success outside of work and 2.) hey, this success even feels different. With the move abroad came so many new challenges: budgeting, long-distance friendships, language, and more. It’s overwhelming yet exciting. Watching my French slowly improve to the point where I can experience moments of a connection results in a fulfilling sense of accomplishment I never experienced before.
There are people who prefer to say ‘Yes,’ and there are people who prefer to say ‘No.’ Those who say ‘Yes,’ are rewarded by adventures they have, and those who say ‘No,’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.