French Expat Living in Philadelphia, Interview with Sarah

Published: 2 Jan at 5 PM
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Filed: Interviews,USA
Sarah first traveled to the USA in 2010 as an exchange student for a semester. She did not know that 3 weeks after arriving she would find love and consider coming back for good. She has recently been granted a 3-year work visa and will be in the USA for at least 3 more years. She talks about her life on her blog, Sarah conte Philly! (see listing here)

Meet Sarah - French expat
Meet Sarah - French expat living in USA

Here's the interview with Sarah...


Where are you originally from?
I'm from the Parisian suburbs in France.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am now living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States.

How long have you lived in Philadelphia and how long are you planning to stay?
I first arrived in Philadelphia as an exchange student in December 2010 until July 2011. I came back for an internship from January 2012 until August 2012 and I have been back since November 2012. As of now, I feel like Philadelphia is going to be my home for a while...

Me and my BF
Me and my BF
Why did you move to Philadelphia and what do you do?
I met my current boyfriend three weeks after I first arrived in 2010 and he is the reason I came back. Quite frankly, I have always been interested in working abroad, starting my career somewhere else than France, maybe the USA but I was not sure where. Meeting my boyfriend just made the choice easier! I am an Operations Analyst in a Supply Chain company. This is what I studied and graduated in at school.

Did you bring family with you?
No

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I had studied abroad previously and I have an international family, spread all around the globe so there was nothing I did not expected. I still had to adapt to not being able to just pickup the phone, call up a friend and say: see you in 15 minutes, I need a drink! Not seeing my family and friend as easily as I would want to. The transition itself is easy because the United are so familiar, the day to day life is sometimes more complicated.

Carpenter Hall: where the first Council to talk about a solution to get rid of the British domination was held.
Carpenter Hall: where the first Council to talk about a solution to get rid of the British domination was held.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialize with other expats?
The first year or so I was mostly just meeting people through my boyfriend. It is not easy to make friends in the USA but I think it would be the same anywhere "do you really want to take the time to get to know this person, although super cool, nice and funny, knowing that she is not here for long?" That was the biggest challenge when I studied abroad. Most students already had their group of college friends or friends from their hometown so broadening the circle for someone who does not any of their history is difficult.

After a little bit, I started making friends of my own, other expatriates mostly or francophiles.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
One of the best thing to do in Philadelphia is to learn about the US History. this the best city to learn about the foundation of the country.

We are also lucky to have amazing foods!

What do you enjoy most about living in the US?
The convenience. The customer is King which means it is normal to go grocery shopping at 22h30 and expect the store to be open.

Lincoln Drive: Although it is a big city, Philadelphia also is also really green.
Lincoln Drive: Although it is a big city, Philadelphia also is also really green.
How does the cost of living compare to home?
It is much much better. I know for my salary I would not be as comfortable as I would be in Paris and that goes for rent, food and fun. I do have to admit that I think Internet, phone and TV are ridiculously expensive for what it is. In France, there are some 40e/month bundles and here the best bundles start at over 100$/month! My phone bill is ridiculous for what I used to pay in France!

What negatives, if any, are there to living in the US?
I also HATE how wasteful people can be here: food, trash, cars, money etc. I do think some Americans are really materialistic, you always have to have gifts for people for every step in their life... It gets expensive.

I do not want to generalize but I do think I have seen a lot of people unaware of their impact on others here.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Learn about where you are moving. Expect some people to not care that you are new. Remember, everyone comes from somewhere in the States so make the effort to try to go with the flow and integrate! But at the same time, expect people to be curious and be ready to answer a lot of stereotypical questions! Laugh at it and don't get offended.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The visa processes...

Cheesesteak, Philadelphia's specialty: beef with cheese in an Italian roll. A MUST try.
Cheesesteak, Philadelphia's specialty: beef with cheese in an Italian roll. A MUST try.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?

  1. Be Positive
  2. Be persistent
  3. Don't play the victim
  4. Learn, learn, learn: language, culture, people
  5. Expect to fail at least once! And bounce back. You'll look at it and say "well... that was bad!"


Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
It is a blog I created to give tips and advises on Philadelphia. I talk A LOT about my personnal experience but I do more general articles about the life in the States. It forces me to go out and discover things.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
On my blog mostly but also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingSarah is a French expat living in USA. Blog description: Sarah moved to the USA in 2010 for school but found love and moved for good. She blogs about living in Philadelphia and her discoveries and being French.
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