Moving to a new country can be a daunting experience. There are language barriers, cultural clashes, bureaucratic red tape, and general miscommunications that can make you feel like you've been victimized by an assault masterminded by Tonya Harding – one designed to bring you down to your knees. Among the many painful frustrations, if you add a brand spanking new marriage to a Frog and becoming an instant mother figure to his two tadpoles, it may spell a recipe for disaster or, perhaps, a suicide mission.
But not for me.
As I approach my eighth month of living full-time in France, and my first wedding anniversary (May 7th), and I look back at all the "challenges" I faced over the last two or so years, I really wouldn't have it any other way. Because in the end everything was worth it. And that expression what doesn't kill you makes you stronger is true.
I also get by with a little help from my friends...
(Cue in Joe Cocker...)
When you move to a new country it is extremely important to integrate into its society. Admittedly, when I moved to France full-time in August I was resistant and didn't put myself out there. After all, I had to adjust to living with my new family and they had to adjust to me (thankfully I'm not the evil step-monster, but a friend). Plus, I was obsessed with finishing my memoir, Seven Letters. And I had to make my new surroundings my home.
A few months later...
Come January, after I acclimated to this new life, and after I got my writing career on track, and after I made this house feel like my home , and after a whirlwind of Holiday activity, I was ready. And no offense to my French friends – who I met through my husband and whom I truly enjoy – but I needed some English speaking friends too. Friends who shared the same or similar experience as me...err, becoming an actual immigrant. Friends who would bitch and moan about obtaining the required carte de séjour (green card) or exchanging your drivers license for the permis de conduire (another story) over a glass or two of wine. And, most importantly, friends who could laugh when I was feeling completely out of my element.
And I found them. And they needed the same things I needed. We met online on one of the Expat Blogs, and now our little group, which started with two and has now grown to four, is growing. All of us are all married to or living with French men, which, of course, provides another subject of conversation altogether. Anyways, we try to meet up at one of the cafés in Toulouse at least twice a month, where we integrate while we acclimate.
Two birds. One stone.
So I can't tell you how nice it is to find like-minded individuals. I'm truly blessed to have found my gang – Monique, Oksana and Trupty. And, oddly enough, we may have a new member soon – a French woman from Paris!
How about you? Have you had to make any big adjustments lately? Do you get by with a little help from your friends?
P.S. If you are in or are moving to the Toulouse area and have somehow stumbled on this blog, and you want to join our gang (no weird/dangerous initiation traditions...yet), feel free to shoot me an email: samantha(dot)verant(at)gmail(dot)com