Whilst in Paris for a few days I was invited by a very good friend of mine to go to one of her friends birthday party in the 18eme arrondissement of Paris!
When we arrived we gave “la bise” to all the people already there (they were approximately twelve! ) which took us a little while 🙂
During the evening I met a very interesting Chilean lady with whom my friend and I started to chat with! We were interested In knowing how she felt in France and if she had faced any difficulties when she went back to Chile.
She first explained why she came to Paris. She came to Paris to study French and social politics at a University. And her second objective was to integrate, melt into French society and have many French friends. She said it was not easy at first, she went to many bars to try and meet people but realised that the French usually stayed in groups and did not mix with others, even if they saw her standing there on her own! So she visited many bars until she found the right one and made many friends! She also used online groups that met regularly, people who wanted to mix and meet new friends! After three years in Paris she had made it, she felt part of the Parisian lifestyle, she felt French and she had many friends!
After three years she was offered a job in Chile where she went back! She said that the first three month was hard, she had lived three years abroad so the people she knew kept telling her she was a snob because she had lived elsewhere and she didn’t speak as good a Spanish as before! Then also from a cultural perspective, she realised that family values were very important, many of her friends in Chile were surprised that at her aged she was snot married and did not have a boyfriend, that made her feel different! After a year back it is better, but she still realises that people see her differently, but she is confident that it can only get better!
The moral of the story is that when we expatriate ourselves it is always important to keep in mind that we should integrate and not stay with people from the same country! And when we come back home, yes we have changed but the people we knew have not and so a gap has emerged, the hard work is to fill this gap again !