American Expat Living in France - Interview with Christy

Published: 26 Jun at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,France
The "What Up, Swags?!" journey began when Christy Swagerty, "Swags," left California in 2011 to chase her dream of playing volleyball professionally overseas. She was signed to a team in Belgium, then moved to play in France, and hasn't looked back since! Swags and her American husband, Marc, love their expat life, learning languages, trying new foods, and traveling as much as they can, both together and apart! Christy's expat blog is called WHAT UP, SWAGS?! (see listing here)

My favorite spot in Paris.
My favorite spot in Paris.

Here's the interview with Christy...

Where are you originally from?
I'm mostly from Northern California, but have lived all over the state. I have moved so much in the last 20 years that I feel more like I'm from wherever I'm currently living.

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?
We've lived in and around Paris for 4 years. We would love to stay forever, but we might try other countries in Europe. How long will we stay in Europe? As long as we can, and if that means the rest of our lives, GREAT!

Why did you move to France and what do you do?
We moved to Europe so I could play volleyball in the French women's league. I also coach volleyball and teach English, and my husband is a basketball coach.

Volleyball is my job!
Volleyball is my job!
Did you bring family with you?
My husband and I have been able to make a wonderful life together in Europe.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It was much easier than we anticipated. It didn't take long for us to realize we wanted to live in Europe forever.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We have community embedded in our sports teams with local friends, and we were also able to meet lots of Anglophone friends as well. We have been very lucky to balance both European and English relationships the past 4 years.

Marc and I in Madrid for Christmas.
Marc and I in Madrid for Christmas.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
It's Paris. It IS the best thing to do!

What do you enjoy most about living in France?
The food, the fact that I can go see the Eiffel Tower whenever I want, and the proximity of amazing cultures and countries in Europe.

How does the cost of living in France compare to home?
Coming from California, Paris prices haven't shocked us very much. We have found groceries to actually be cheaper!

Ninja moves in Norway.
Ninja moves in Norway.
What negatives, if any, are there to living in France?
If you don't speak French, it can be tough for a while. The paperwork for visas is brutal, but totally worth it when it all processes. It can be extremely difficult to find your own place to live, so getting a job that finds your housing is really important and helpful!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to France, what would it be?
Prepare to walk A LOT! And buy all of your clothes here so you'll fit in better.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
We had a really intense cold winter in 2012-2013 (from California, we're weather wimps). Sometimes visas have taken too long to process and that has been disappointing, but it's always worked out in the end!

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
France is home...and we're not planning any permanent return to the USA.

Surfing in Portugal.
Surfing in Portugal.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Maximize your time abroad because you never know when it will end.
  2. Create a third culture mix of the local life plus your life before, and you'll have the perfect blend of new and old to keep your life and culture moving forward.
  3. Say "yes" to 99.9% of the opportunities that are presented to you.
  4. No place is impossible to live in or stay in; don't give up, you'll find a way!
  5. Be ready to change into a better and greater version of yourself everyday.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
The What Up, Swags?! blog content focuses on how Volleyball = Travel. The presence of sport in our lives has granted us unique opportunities to see the world and share our experiences with all of you!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Through our website: We are happy to meet up with tourists and expats alike, and can set up a meeting point via the blog!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingChristy is an American expat living in France. Blog description: Volleyball = Travel Californians in France; sports for our jobs, learning French for fun, enjoying our European adventures!
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