We interviewed Farrah Hall- a French and History Graduate who has been living in France since graduating from University. She initially started working as an English Language Assistant in Nice and is now living and working in Paris. We discussed her experience so far in France, tips for moving abroad and settling in!
What Are You Doing Abroad ?
I am currently working for an educational centre start up in Paris in various departments of the business including management and teaching. I started my journey abroad in Nice as an English Language Assistant and moved to Paris to teach English last year !
How Would You Describe Your Time Abroad So Far?
I really enjoy living abroad. It has been challenging at times (especially with COVID-19) and has taken time to adapt to my new life in France. However, I am happy that I have managed to make it an enjoyable experience despite the national lockdowns. Moving abroad can be a challenge, but the process of adapting to your new surroundings, job and speaking another language makes you a stronger person. For me personally, speaking French on a daily basis has made me realise how far my French language skills have come since my school days! I have also met a lot of amazing new people who have helped make my experience abroad great too !
What made you want to move back to France after University?
I always had it in the back on my mind that I wanted to move back to France. I really enjoyed my Erasmus experience in Aix-en-Provence and loved life in the South of France. I did look at and apply to some graduate schemes but nothing really stood out to me. I heard about a few English Language Assistant programmes and I thought that it would be a great option for me after a difficult final year at University.
How did you prepare for your move to France in the months leading up to moving abroad ?
There were a few things that I made sure were in place before I moved to France. Firstly, I booked my plane ticket and sorted out short term accommodation. I stayed with some family for the first few weeks while I was looking for an apartment. I went on a few apartment viewings/interviews before I found my apartment. My advice when it comes to apartment hunting is take your time and if possible go with someone who you know when viewing them.
I made photocopies of the following documents to bring with me:
- Birth Certificate
- EHIC card
- I took a few passport sized photos of myself too
I needed to set up a French bank account in order to be paid. To open my account the bank needed:
- My work contract
- Proof of address
- Proof that my landlord owned the property
I looked into CAF straight away because I was aware that they do not back pay payments. Therefore even if you have lived in France since September for example, if you made your application in November they will not compensate you for the months of September and October. CAF stands for ‘Caisse d’Allocation Familial’. It is a housing assistance programme where the French government contribute to some of your rent. You can find out more information about CAF here. Each application is different, however for mine I needed:
- Housing contract
- Work contract
What pieces of advice would you give to someone who is preparing to move abroad ?
1. Have a positive mindset- moving abroad can be a difficult and overwhelming time however it is important to embrace these challenges and new experiences.
2. Stock up on home comforts- not everything that you can get in the UK is available in France and even when it is you are very often paying an arm and a leg for it. Definitely stock up on essentials and items that remind you of home and will help you settle in.
3. Make the most out of social media- social media can be a great way to meet new people. There are many language exchange groups on Facebook for example. Don’t be scared to get out of your comfort zone to meet new people but always be careful- meet in a public place for example !
4. Have fun !- Even though at times living abroad can be a challenge it is also an exciting time. Make the most out of all the opportunities that come your way while you are abroad. Meet new people, try the local cuisine and explore the cities and countries around you !
Is there anything that you know now that you wished you knew before you moved abroad ?
The extent to how bureaucratic the system in France can be. I have learnt that the longer you leave it to sort certain documents and applications, the longer it takes to get any results. So I guess that another piece of advice I would give to those who are going to move abroad is as soon as you settle in, get on top of the admin !
Bonus Question- What was your go to choice at the Boulangerie ?
It has to be a Pain au Chocolat !