Canadian Expat In Paris - Interview With Megan

Published: 14 Nov at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,France
Megan McGuire ran off to Paris 4 years ago, and can't remember how life was before. Originally from Canada, she decided that she'd stay for a year, but when given the opportunity to stay longer, she couldn't turn it down. Through her blog, she chronicles her life in pictures. She is a terrible photographer (EDITOR: Her words not ours!) Megan blogs at Meg in Paris (see listing here)

Meg in Paris

Here's the interview with Megan...


Where are you originally from?
I grew up in Calgary, then moved to Toronto for university, where I stayed for 10 years.

In which country and city are you living now?
Paris, France

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been here four years, and at this point think it's permanent.

Meg in ParisWhy did you move and what do you do?
I moved on a bit of a whim... A friend had mentioned that Canada and France have a program for working holiday visas, where we can come for a year and work almost anywhere. I was just finished my masters, and only had a short contract lined up, so I thought why not move to France for a year, and perfect my French? I thought I'd go back to Canada and get a job really easily. However, when I got a job offer, I felt like I'd always regret not staying and here I am, four years later...
I prefer not to say what I do for a living, but let's just say I work in TV (but am far from famous!)

Did you bring family with you?
No, and I only knew one person here!

Meg in ParisHow did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
HARD. Like I said, I only knew one person when I arrived, so it took a while to adjust. I started by working reception at a DIRTY hostel, and just kept trying to find something new... It took a REALLY long time for me to find a job I liked (I got lucky!) and I'm just now starting to have a solid group of friends.
I have to say that speaking French has made it much easier for me. Not to brag, but I had a decent level when I arrived (obviously I've gotten better since) and I've seen a real difference in how easy it's been for me. Although the people who came with jobs have it even easier, I think!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I'm still working on it... I try to mix it up. I've found that with other expats, there's what I call "friend churn" - because you get to know people and found good friendships, and then they go back home! Also, I really value the local friends I've made.
I've made friends here, but I'm still looking to enlarge my social circle.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Everything! From going to football games to the theatre to an expo, and then you can travel so easily! Get out and have fun, even if you're tired.

Meg in ParisWhat do you enjoy most about living here?
The beauty of Paris, the ease of travel around Europe, the pace of life, the croissants.
And the lunch breaks - an hour every day with no need to stress that I've taken too much time, and our meal is partly paid for! Such a change from a quick sandwich in front of my computer.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Way more expensive. Especially the rent. And salaries don't keep up either, so I have much less disposable income.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The work hours. People think that the French work 35 hour weeks, and that may be true for the fonctionnaires, but it sure isn't true for those in the private sector! I start at 9.30 and never leave before 19.00, and I have friends who do much more than that.
And everything is closed on Sundays. I still can't wrap my mind, or shopping, around that.

Meg in ParisIf you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
If you need a visa to live here, know the administration processes inside & out. And keep electronic copies of all important documents, just in case! The French administration LOVES their documents.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Spending Christmas away from my family and friends. It's the most important holiday for our family, and it's not a big thing in France, so I felt really let down and un-festive. This year, I'm heading to Canada to see my family, come hell or high water!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Swallow your pride - things that you were good at back home are now hard, jobs are harder to get, etc... You're going to need to lower your standards on a lot of stuff.
  2. Never say no to an invitation, even if you're tired. Meeting new people, or working on your relationships is essential to building a social circle.
  3. Don't compare - to your friends back home who make way more money than you, to the cool girl who seems to have everything so easily, the guy whose company pays for his apartment. As long as you're enjoying yourself, you're good.
  4. Walk, bike, take the bus. The metro is efficient, but you don't see anything. And it kinda smells.
  5. Remember that tomorrow it will be easier.


Meg in ParisTell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started my blog when I moved here for my mom, and she's still my best (and pretty much only) audience.
I'm not a writer, so it's really just grown out of how I keep in touch with family and friends. I also use it to keep track of what I've done and where I go. It's purposefully not a "journal", and I try not to vent about the frustrating parts of my life. It's mostly pictures, but I’m aware of what a terrible photographer I am and don’t really care.
I hope that people find it a bit funny, and not too boring!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via the "ask me anything" section of my blog (http://blog.meganmcguire.net/ask)

Megan blogs at http://blog.meganmcguire.net which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Meg in Paris has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Megan, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Costa Pappas wrote 4 months ago:

Hey Megan, I just stumbled upon your blog and enjoyed it. I've been contemplating moving to Paris ever since I vacationed there 5 years ago. Having grown up in Montreal, I've always thought it'd be easier for me to acclimatize myself to life in Paris than most people. I don't have a university degree or any professional certification. As someone who lives there now, I was hoping you can give me some insight on the difficulties of finding work over there. I'm currently living in Florida, and find that it isn't for me. Any insight given is very appreciated. Thank you for your time.

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