Combating my expat fears of moving to France in 2021
By Erin Colton-Enberg
I have have the same fears and anxieties I had before moving to Colombia five years ago. But now, it’s off to France.
While the thought of moving to Europe, even France, has always been a romantic dream for many, it never had been in my plans. However, as they say, ‘life happens when you are busy making other plans,’ and that is certainly true (and feels even more true when living abroad sometimes). I met my Colombian partner a couple of years ago, and in an unanticipated turn of events, he moved his coffee company to Paris, France.
Having already moved abroad and created a life for me in Colombia in 2015, I now have some of the same fears and anxieties I had before moving abroad five years ago. What will it be like to learn another language? Will I have enough money to study and work? How will I make friends? Am I too old to start over? However, the beautiful thing about this process is that I am not the first person to make a second move abroad to a new country! Here are some tips on how I navigate my own fears and anxieties about moving to France.
Connect With Others
Even as a seasoned expat, connecting with other people is my number one way of staying informed and getting the best information. The TCI Alliance team has been a fantastic resource, and I reach out to them when I have questions about the process. Joining local Facebook groups is another favorite of mine to create community, chatting with people on the ground, and learning from others who have made the move. I know, throughout this process, I am never alone!
Brush Up on Language Skills
On top of moving to a new country, you also expect me to start learning the language before I go? For me, one of my greatest anxieties is not being able to understand and navigate a new language. For this reason, I am prioritizing taking private French classes and brushing up on my language skills before I go. If that feels like too much for you, start listening to music, watching shows in another language, or spending a few minutes on Duolingo. Ultimately, making it fun will be a greater motivator to do it, so it doesn’t feel like ‘one more thing’ you have to do before you leave.
Embrace the Unknown
The unknown! Scary? Exciting? There will always be unknowns when moving to another country, and this is an inevitable part of the process. Regardless of how many hours you spend reading local government websites, connecting with people on Social Media, and learning the top survival vocabulary to get around, you will probably never have it all figured out. As simple as it sounds, having an open mind is so important when making a move like this.
Rewrite Your Narrative
We have all said the phrase, whether to ourselves or out loud, “I am too ___________ (fill in the blank” to move abroad. I am too old, I am too young, I am too scared, I am too financially unstable, I am not qualified enough. If you breakdown the narrative and rewrite the stories you are telling yourself, you will discover that anything is possible. Engaging in self-discovery is such a beautiful part of the process.
What story are you telling yourself? Whether you are moving abroad for the first, second, third, or tenth time, the same feelings may come up throughout the new process. At TCI, we are here to help you navigate the process, provide you with a supportive community, and help you make the decision that is right for you! Are you ready to start your journey?
Editor’s Note: TCI is a full-service provider of expat education and transition services. Our private platform allows our global expat community and our Expat Alliance of in-country expats and experts to interact so that all can successfully embrace the expat experience. Learn More…