The first item on Lillian’s agenda was to learn French. She learned early on that the French did speak and understand English, but they would rather converse in French in social settings so not speaking French would quickly isolate you. “I had to learn to speak the language because the French had a very strong social culture,” said Lillian.
One of Lillian’s favorite benefits of living in Europe was the generous vacation time offered to employees. She uses this opportunity to travel across Europe and visit her family back in the United States. Lillian loves the French countryside for its beauty and distinctive culture. Contrary to socializing in the US, it is harder to meet friends in France. Although the French are not rude, they are not too open to receiving new friends. Lillian has learned that the French forge a very strong bond and most friendships go back many years and once you are a friend, you are like family and it is a life-long friendship. This is one of the main reasons why the French are less open to receiving new friends into their tight-knit group. It is another example of their preference for quality over quantity, which one can certainly appreciate.
The best piece of advice Lillian can offer anyone moving to Paris, other than to learn the language, is to find an association to be part of. For example, Lillian is part of an organization known as the Association of American Wives of Europeans (AAWE) in Paris. The AAWE is open to all English-speaking women of any nationality. This group has been instrumental in helping Lillian navigate the complexities of the government bureaucracy. Additionally, the group also holds networking and social events for people of all backgrounds to come together and mingle.
It did take time for Lillian to adjust to her new surroundings but this experience has opened up a whole new world and she is looking forward to many more years of exciting adventures in her adopted country.