Living abroad is one of those really strange experiences that you could call almost baptism by fire. I've been here in London nearly 10 years this month and its been probably the most painful/joyous experiences of my life.
I've often wondered what life is like for other expats in different countries. Although I think there's things that tie all expats together, I know its always a unique experience for each person.
So, I'd like to introduce you to Bobbi. She's Canadian and packed up and sold everything (including her life as a practicing Psychiatrist) to move to Semur en Auxois....out in the middle of the French countryside. Her blog 'Finding me in France' is a hilarious and often inspirational account of her time trying to find bliss in a foreign place.
She's been very gracious to give little ole' me an interview (which I hope is the first in the series of many on here). I know that you will enjoy her answers (and her blog) as much as I have:
1) So why did you decide to leave your job and move to France?
Of course I get asked this a lot and I wish I had a profoundly clever answer. All I can say is that my stressful, high speed, all consuming job-focused, striving life simply didn’t fit me anymore. I knew it was a case of now or never. If I didn’t make a change I’d be stuck in the fast lane. I knew that all I needed to do to have a completely different life was to let go of my attachment to material things. I decided to quit while on vacation in France and when I returned I was determined to have a life in Europe no matter what. I don’t know why I did it really other than it just felt like the right thing to do.
2) How has living abroad changed you?
I’m not sure yet. The big thing I notice so far is that I’m much slower. No rushing around like a maniac day in and day out. I actually have time to do things that I didn’t even know I wanted to do like writing. Sometimes I’m a bit too slow, full days of bedhead and sweatpants! I also think it’s helped me be more culturally aware and to be open to new experiences and life in general.
3) You used to be a practicing psychiatrist. Do you have any advice for those of us still searching for our bliss?
I think bliss is everywhere. The trick is being able to find it wherever you look. I don’t think people have to turn their lives upside down like I have to find happiness. I would advise that people stop every now and then and actually look at their lives, reflect a little on whether they are really doing all they can to be happy and peaceful. I think, now more than ever, we get so caught up in things that don’t really matter which creates a lot of difficulty. For me it was a matter of recognizing that I was too busy to be present in my own life and that’s not a recipe for bliss.
4) You've written about the joys and challenges of learning a foreign language. Have you started having dreams in French?
Mon Dieu, non!! I’m lucky to be able to ask where the toilet is let alone craft a full dream. It’s a daily battle I’m afraid!
5) What would you say to anyone looking to leave everything and move to a foreign country?
Plan, plan and plan again!! I would say to be realistic about it. It’s an amazing thing to do but it is really challenging. Do your research beforehand. Know what will be required from an immigration perspective. Try your best to let go of any expectations that things will be done in a way that you are used to and, if possible, learn as much of the language as you can before arriving! It’s easy to romanticize such a transition and it requires a lot of patience. But it’s well worth it just to know that you were able to let go of everything for once, to have a true adventure. So far it’s been the experience of a lifetime for me.
6) Your blog is very well written and hilarious. Where did you learn how to write so well? Do you think you may write a book one day about your experiences?
Why merci Madame!! I always say I’d only ever written prescriptions before the blog. What started as a way to keep a diary for myself of the Big French Adventure and to keep in touch with friends and family has turned into some sort of monster hobby. All I can say is that I sat at a computer one day and out it all came. Now it feels like I’ve been doing it all my life. Of course the humor is in my blood. Newfies are the funniest people on the planet. As for a book we’ll see but it’s definitely something I would love to do.
7) What's next for you? or are you happy just embracing the uncertainty of the moment?
I couldn’t even guess what’s next. I know that I have a place to live until September, that there’s food in the fridge today and beyond that who knows? For now I’m just rolling with it, something new for me the compulsive planner.
8) What's been the best thing about living in France? the hardest?
There are so many great things about France but food and wine top the list as does the general pace of life. As for the hardest thing, definitely acquiring the language followed closely by banking!
9) If heaven exists what would you like God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
“Bar’s open, what’ll you have?”
ALL PICTURES are from Finding me in France and can be credited to Neil McCulloch, Bobbi's husband.