AMA: “How well did you know French before applying to work in Paris?”

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.

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Pendaison de crémaillère

In french, a housewarming party is called a pendaison de crémaillère, a phrase from medieval times meaning, “hanging of the chimney hook”. After construction of a new home, the chimney hook (made for hanging pots over the fire) was the last thing to be installed. It is customary to have people over for a meal when you’ve settled in.

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Meeting my new team


Although I don’t move to Paris until after new year’s, my boss sent me on a trip this week to meet the team and move my projects forward. This is the best business trip I’ve been on in terms of professional and personal development. (Plus I got to bring mom along for the ride!)

Our team in Paris operates more like a start-up, with monthly sprints and open floor seating (not to mention a view of the Eiffel Tower). It’s GREAT. People are much more collaborative, though it can probably get distracting at times (a nerf gun war broke out one morning). My previous team in Redmond was pretty close, but only a few of us put effort in organizing social events.The French are naturally more social at work. When the clock strikes 12, everyone (everyone.) heads down to the cafeteria together to eat as a team. (Also: creme brulee, baguettes, cheese, and organina every day whaaaat.) After lunch, we head up to the cafe for a cappuccino and more chatter.

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