For many people, a move to France represents the ultimate dream come true, but what does it really mean to do it?
Winters in Languedoc are generally mild, but 2018 was the worst on record in decades. During the harshest of weather you may question a move to the sunny south of France! We invited expat coach and blogger Marijke Doldersum from The Netherlands to share her insights into relocation and immigration. Marijke has emigrated 5 times and speaks 5 languages. She now lives in the Languedoc, not far from Narbonne.
We immigrated to France mid 2017. It was not our first move abroad, so we had a fair idea of what to expect. Despite all our ‘experience’ we encountered emotions that we had not anticipated.
Emotional issues are harder to deal with than practical problems, and I have listed a few that could easily affect you as a new migrant.
Leaving children behind
We lived 25 years in Australia and left an adult daughter behind. She had graduated, moved to Melbourne and was keen to start a career.
Obviously we miss her and worry about her. However we experience several other emotions we did not expect. For instance we feel guilty that we took away her childhood home and immediate parental support network.
There have been numerous times that she struggled to make new friends or deal with her job. These things break your heart but because of the distance you can’t pop over to give her a hug. I have therefore created a little ‘safety net’.
- We found her an ‘aunty’ who lives in Melbourne who can act as a safety net if our daughter needs one
- We have phone numbers for house mates, work colleagues and friends
- We have a weekly Skype call
Struggling with the climate
The winters in the South of France are much colder and darker than I was willing to accept. It affects me and I realise how much I loved the light in Australia. After being here this whole winter we have decided to break it up. These are our options depending on our budget.
- We are keen house sitters and we will try to find a house-sit in a sunny climate
- If budget allows we can visit Australia in the European winter
- We can rent out our house and head off to a warmer climate
Doubting the decision
This is a big one and I think about this daily. Living 25 years in a country is a lifetime and I realise how Australian I had become. I still feel a bit of a stranger in France and struggle to find things. Such feelings have made me doubt whether my decision to leave Australia was the right one.
When this happens you have to tackle the monster immediately and make a real effort to feel at home in the new country. Here are a few tips!
- Keep reminding yourself of why you left your old country and why you came to France
- Integrate on a deeper level: learn the language and find French friends
- Participate in activities, groups and explore the beautiful country you are in
These are just a couple of possible emotional issues that may affect you after your move to France. They are certainly on my mind but I have made peace with them. I remind myself daily why I wanted to move here and try to embrace my new country as much as possible.
There may be situations that you can’t overcome such as homesickness and loneliness. Instead of becoming depressed or losing your initial optimism and joy I would urge you to seek help. There are wonderful organisations such as Renestance that specialise in dealing with such problems and making your transition a lot easier.
It is why they exist, and what they offer is built upon years of experience and expertise of assisting dozens of immigrants. France can be a difficult country when it comes to bureaucracy and language but in the end these things are just admin. They can be overcome with the help of others.
So don’t sweat the small stuff, keep your focus on your big ‘why’ and enjoy your new country to the fullest. It will be worth it!
Marijke is the blogger behind Easydone – a new lifestyle after 50. She is also the creator of Easy Done Online Services where she offers help with writing, proofreading, social media and other admin tasks. Her goal is to be able to work online and see the world.
Dennelle is the President of Renestance and a bilingual American who’s lived in France since 2000. She loves so many things about France, its language, culture, geography, quality of life... that she started a business to help others realize their dreams of living in this incredible place.
All articles by: Dennelle Taylor Nizoux