American Expat Living in France - Interview with Marina

Published: 4 Aug at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,France
Marina is a twenty-something American who now lives in Paris. She works for the education department of a museum, and she loves encouraging people to use their imaginations when looking at art. Having lived in Paris for almost four years, she has spent a lot of time scouring the city to find moments of little pleasures: quiet streets, divine pastries, sweeping views, original cocktails, and cozy cafés for leisurely afternoons. She also makes time to go to exhibitions and to explore off the beaten path artistic offerings. Newly engaged to a Frenchie, she is learning more than ever about Franco-American cultural differences. Marina's expat blog is called Garlands in Paris (see listing here)

In the Saint-Sulpice fountain, making a snow-pigeon
In the Saint-Sulpice fountain, making a snow-pigeon

Here's the interview with Marina...

Where are you originally from?
I'm from Ann Arbor, Michigan, a lovely town to grow up in. Go Blue!

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

How long have you lived in France and how long are you planning to stay?
I’ve lived here for almost four years, and I have absolutely no idea how long I’ll stay.

Life imitating art at the Château de Versailles
Life imitating art at the Château de Versailles
Why did you move to France and what do you do?
I moved here to do my Master’s degree in muséologie (Museum Studies) at the École du Louvre. Now I work in the education department of a museum, where I spend my days making the collection interesting and accessible to as many visitors as possible.

Did you bring family with you?
No, but I've found family here! Since moving to Paris, I have met people who are sure to be lifelong friends, as well as my financé.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Exciting (Paris!) and tedious (French bureaucracy!) all at the same time.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It was surprisingly easy to make friends here, especially through shared acquaintances. I’d say half of my friends are French (through school and work) and half are Anglophone expats.

Not much beats a sunset over the rooftops of Paris
Not much beats a sunset over the rooftops of Paris
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Make time for cafés. One of my favorite activities in Paris is to plant myself in a café and look out onto a sidewalk with a pen and paper, jotting down the little details of what I see or make plans for the future.

What do you enjoy most about living in France?
Paris is best enjoyed slowly, and I love the luxury of having years to take my time to savor the city’s delights.

How does the cost of living in France compare to home?
It doesn’t. Surprise, surprise: Paris is more expensive than Michigan.

Contemporary dance in the galleries of the Louvre Museum
Contemporary dance in the galleries of the Louvre Museum
What negatives, if any, are there to living in France?
As beautiful as Paris is, there are definitely negatives to living here: grumpy people in the métro at rush hour, the ridiculous cost of living, rat-spottings in parks…

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to France, what would it be?
Learn French! Making a sincere effort to communicate at any linguistic level goes a long way for the French.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The shortage of good Mexican food.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
Probably in the same way I coped with expatriation: embracing the wonderful aspects of my current surroundings, while honoring the places I've left.

A summer island-themed party
A summer island-themed party
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Build a support system. Life as an expat can be hard, but it’s easier if you can find interesting people to share it with.
  2. Visit the museums! It can be easy when you live in a place to not take advantage of the cultural offerings, but making the effort to explore your city is so worth it.
  3. Mingle with the locals. Some of my richest experiences in Paris have come from interactions with my French friends. France makes a lot more sense when seen through the perspective of a French peer.
  4. Become a regular. There is nothing quite as satisfying as feeling like you belong somewhere in your new city.
  5. Stay in touch with family and old friends. It can be more effort to maintain friendships across an ocean, but it is really important to invest in these relationships.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
In 'Garlands in Paris', I write about life in Paris, play in museums, and creative parties. It’s a place for me to share little moments of beauty and curiosity and play. There are posts about everything from ideas for museum visits, to hidden parks, to the importance of party guestbooks, to the best burger in Paris. I love the idea of celebrating the little things in life that, like art and friendship, have "no survival value; rather [they are some] of those things which give value to survival" (C.S. Lewis).

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Send me an email or leave a comment on my blog! I’m also on Facebook ( and Twitter (@garlandsinparis).

About the author

Expat Blog ListingMarina is an American expat living in France. Blog description: THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT PLAY. And Paris. And museums. And parties. Celebrating beauty in the everyday to make life a bit more cheery.
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