The Accidental Expat

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I moved to Lyon, France.

Before that I lived in Pennsylvania, USA.

The reason for moving here was a fresh start.

If I were to describe my current city in one word, that would be astonishing. It is a perfect blend of old and new and the lows and highs that come along with that.

The River Saône with a view of Vieux Lyon

The River Saône with a view of Vieux Lyon

The first thing a new expat needs to know when moving here is integrating into the community is a challenge.

The language issue – Probably my biggest ‘if I had a chance to do things over’. Two years in I can understand pretty well but I still speak like a turtle. A turtle with a bad accent.

Since I moved here I stopped feeling like I had to be doing something every second of every day. C’est la vie!

Since I moved here the new thing I stared doing is taking public transportation. Really. I know.

My biggest lesson learnt was there are so many things to experience in life and I was always boxing myself in.

Some weird habits at the locals: The only thing you eat with your hands is a baguette sandwich. Fork and knife all the way baby.

My biggest cultural shock was the inefficiency and the pace. MUCH slower than the US.

My funniest / weirdest / scariest experience was the first time we had to navigate French healthcare for a major issue for my son. I felt out of control, scared, and helpless.

What I miss the most from home is Target. Sorry, family and friends.

Whenever I get home sick, what I miss is my big living room and comfy sofa.

I go home as often as twice a year. Grandparent-Grandchild withdrawal.

I keep in contact with my friends and family constantly through social media and Facetime. I do call my mom but some days I wish she could just follow me on Instagram. She could get real time updates!

My favorite dish/local food is Rosette de Lyon. It’s a sausage/salami. On baguette with small cornichons (pickles) and butter is perfection.

My favorite places in town are….this is too tough….the outdoor bar where we have cocktails, the 2nd district where I live and all the restaurants, the river promenade…the list goes on.

Our favorite restaurant in Lyon at night.

Our favorite restaurant in Lyon at night.

I get around the city by tram, metro, bus, and bike.

Street fashion? Always chic. Always. I get dressed to walk the dog.

My view on people: Some are nice. Some are not. I think this applies everywhere.

Being an expat: It is definitely a little bit of a surreal experience. You have a bond with other expats and you have to work really hard to break into the local scene.

In 5 years, I see myself living in…5 years is a long time away!



Currently an expat in Lyon, France, I’m also a wife, a mom, an MBA, a health and fitness coach, a writer, and an avid traveler. Too many years ago, my colleague Bev and I were discussing career and general life satisfaction. Was what we were doing at that time going to lead us to our overall goal? I remember wondering if I even had an overall goal. Bev pointed out to me that often times, in our career and in our life, we find ourselves either underwhelmed or overwhelmed. She brazenly wondered aloud “Where’s the whelm?” That has stuck with me all these years. The Oxford Dictionary defines the noun ‘whelm’ as “an act or instance of flowing or heaping up abundantly; a surge”. This journey is about finding my whelm; finding my flow, my abundance, my surge.

1 Comment

  1. Mathilde

    November 20, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Haha, being French and raised in the USA, the whole “eating everything with a fork and knife” thing is still confusing.

    I love Lyon though. And saucisson brioché 🙂

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