Coco avant Paris, Coco après Paris
I am not really sure what originally sparked my obsession with Paris; some of my earliest memories of it go back to when I was six. Cross-legged, I sat with a pen in my hand marking carefully plotted cities on my map of France with a big star. Browsing through the pamphlets I had taken from the travel agency during a recent visit with my mom, I curiously examined each gleaming picture—the romantic lights of Paris, the glamour and beauty of the French Riviera, the lavender fields of Provence that never seemed to end … France was my destiny and one day these pictures would be real.
I never gave up that dream and now I am living in those pictures. Each day I stare up at the wrought iron balconies of Parisian neighborhoods or walk into my local boulangerie and grab a pain au chocolat. I can take long weekends basking in the sun of Cote d’Azur or go wine tasting in Loire Valley. But all of this didn’t come without some hard work and courage.
When making the decision to move abroad I was overwhelmed with the fear of uncertainty, but in a matter of months of living in France, I had completely eliminated that fear and replaced it with the need to have more time here. Although the ten months I had spent au pairing in a little French village had been far less than perfect, the very thought of leaving France gave me even more anxiety than my original decision to move here.
I couldn’t imagine ending the journey—I felt like I had just begun. Constantly growing and learning, I felt like Paris was a buffet of senses I couldn’t get anywhere else. I fell in love with it more every day and I was afraid to give it up. Not only was I in complete adoration of the city’s mystique, but also valued the challenge it gave me when trying to make it mine. I wanted Paris, but it wanted me to work for it.
It was that emotion that drove me to endure almost a year of battling the French administration. Little did I know, the decision to accept a position with a French company would in turn create the greatest amount of stress I have ever endured. Not only was getting a work visa typically difficult for Americans, I also asked for it in an unusually difficult time due to the political atmosphere.
However, my persistence, combined with the fact I knew getting to live in Paris would be my reward for overcoming all of these hardships, kept me going. Now when I stare out my window at Sacré-Cœur and see the bustling city six floors below me, the view seems even sweeter.
I am currently employed in a French company and work with North American VIP groups wanting to travel to France. My job is partially in English and partially in French, creating a perfect but challenging environment to master this new language. I immerse myself as much as I can in French life and frequently find myself getting teased from my American friends about my ‘French-ness’.
Many people say you value what you work for more than if it was just handed to you. That is how I view my time here. Although Paris was always a dream, it wasn’t until it was almost taken away from me that I realized how much I truly wanted it.Image credits
1, 2 © Coco Rosenthal