Recently, a friend of mine that I went to high school with, named Natalee, e-mailed me, regarding my pull to move to Paris. She recently made a big change in her life, moving from Toronto to Los Angelos. Your first reaction to this might be: but it’s the same continent! But they all speak English! It’s only to the United States! And let me immediately respond to those comments: the United States is more of a foreign country to Canadian experiences than France. There is free health care for all residents in France, there is a demand for jobs in my field in France (where I would work in an English environment), and, should I proceed with obtaining my Euro passport through the Italian consulate, my transition would actually be rather smooth.
Anyway, let’s get to the honest and informative e-mail:
“How was your trip? It looked SO lovely. I really wanted to write you to try to convince you to pursue your dream of living in France. Your posts all really spoke to me but especially the one that said home wasn’t going to feel like home anymore. That’s exactly how I felt when I decided to move. It’s a weird feeling, I love Canada so much, especially Toronto, but I couldn’t escape the fact that I suddenly felt like a visitor. Maybe I was at a crossroad in my life and it was the universes way of telling me to move on, I’m not sure. But ever since I visited California, that’s where I wanted to be.
If you feel that way about France, you owe it to yourself to at the very least try it. Life is too short, and as cliche as that is, it’s because it’s so true. We’re still young and have the opportunity to make choices like this now — why not take them? Life will get in the way of these dreams and the older you get the harder it becomes to be convince yourself of their importance and to try to follow through with them.
That being said, it is hard. I miss my family every second of every day and I know I’m missing out on time with them and that is without a doubt the hardest sacrifice. If I ever come home it will pretty much be for that reason only. That being said, there are planes and FaceTime and what not and that does make it a whole hell of a lot easier. But it isn’t the same, I won’t even pretend like it is.
Time change is also a hard one because it limits how much I can talk to my family and friends, as it’s a 3hr difference. That doesn’t seem like much but it can make a huge difference if you’re missing someone at 8pm and they’re already asleep and not able to take your phone calls. I think Paris is only a few hours ahead of Ontario though, so it really isn’t too bad.
I am not familiar with Europe (I’ve never even been, sadly) and what their immigration laws are like but the U.S.’s are very strict. I would look into how difficult it is to work there as I came here unable to work for the first several months which can be a huge financial wrench in your plans. Work visits and what not can seem like an easy enough process when in actual fact they’re very confusing and difficult to be granted. Perhaps look into meeting with a lawyer to discuss the legalities of a move.
Also I’m not sure how your boyfriend feels about it, I sort of assumed he’d go with you? If he didn’t, I’m sure that would be the hardest part. If that’s the case, again I must say, you have to live your own life and do what you feel is right for you. Don’t stay in one place simply because the important people are there. I do think those connections are what is most important in life, but I also think finding your own inner happiness is even more so. If you’re looking for that or feel like there’s an aspect of yourself you may find or discover, or even reignite while being in France – then I say go there.
The only other thing but I’m sure it’s a nonissue is your pets. Fully assuming you’d bring them with you (hoping that’s the case), you probably have to get them quarantined or at the very least examined by a vet within 24 hours of leaving. Archie doesn’t fly well, I had to certify him as a therapy dog so that he could stay in the cabin with me. Might be something you may want to look into. Not sure what France’s rule about bringing pets over is though.
Other than those obstacles — and whether or not you speak French, of course 😋 — I really don’t have any others to warn you about! If you feel as strongly about doing this my only cautionary tale would be to not deprive your soul of what it’s craving. Regretting not doing something is a whole hell of a lot more painful than it is to try something and decide afterwards it’s not what you expected or that it isn’t actually what you want. I dont want to compare our situations since I’m not familiar with yours but I suffer from depression and since moving here I have noticed a dramatic change in my mood and my behaviour. It’s a gamble, because it hurts to not be near my family, but the positives have outweighed the negatives for me, personally. I don’t know how close you are with your family but what I always tell myself is that despite them being such a large part of my life, I do have my own dreams and aspirations and my own life to live, and if something means this much to me, then I have to do it.
Feel free to reach out to me any time you want if you have any questions or just want someone to talk to about it! A different continent is much more different than just another country but the world really isn’t as big as it seems! I really truly believe we gravitate to certain places because of the way they make our hearts feel and I don’t think you should ignore that feeling if it’s as overpowering as it seems to be.”
This e-mail was as honest as the books I always have my nose in, written by people who also made the jump to find themselves and their true happiness in another country. They all stress the important points: it won’t be easy, it won’t be all rainbows and butterflies, but it will be worth it, because there is true, immense bliss that comes from being in a place that truly feels like home. There is magic in that.
Yesterday, I met with coworkers and friends of mine who also said the same thing: the important thing to do in life is to follow your heart, and that the photos of me in Paris have a kind of soul-deep happiness, where something just “feels right/looks right”.
Natalee’s words were perfect: I feel like a visitor in my own country. Everywhere I look, it just doesn’t feel like home.
I can’t wait to feel at home, in France.