Cheese, Baguette, Wine, and Crepes…sounds a lot like France! That’s exactly where Sayuri moved from India with her family. She will be sharing barriers she is facing, her favorite dish as a vegetarian, the costs of living and much more.
Hi Sayuri, tell us about yourself…
Hi Sixtina! I am 31 years old and I am from India. I got married when I was 25 and that’s when it all began, the traveling, the adventure, the new life with my husband Rohit.
After marriage, I moved to Lexington, South Carolina, USA. I have lived in three different countries (USA, China, France) as an expat and traveled to 10 countries.
We moved to Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne, France (center of France) due to my husband’s job about 9 months ago. This expat experience is different than the other two because we now have a daughter who has just turned one and I am so glad that she has inherited the love for traveling from us.
Is it easy to connect with locals or are there any barriers?
When we moved to France I was at ease because we already knew a few people there that were with us in China as well. I have also joined an International Women’s Club here which has made it easy for me to get in touch with other young moms and expats in town.
The language barrier is there especially when it comes to going out on my own for anything, say shopping. But I have been lucky because people have been sweet and helpful and even try their best to speak English with me. So I guess I have been really lucky!
How about the cost of living?
Clermont-Ferrand is a very small city so the cost of living is not as high as living in Paris or Lyon. Affordable housing options are available in different zones of Clermont.
Daily groceries are considerably cheap and easily available in different supermarket chains like Carrefour, E.Leclerc, Auchan, and Casino.
What was the biggest culture shock for you?
The biggest cultural shock for me was that everything is closed on Sundays. I bet anyone from India feels the same. Sunday’s there are exactly the opposite and are super busy. The malls, cinemas, local markets, everything is open and extremely busy.
In Clermont-Ferrand, it’s so quiet on Sundays. Also during the month of August, it’s a bit strange for me to find Cafes restaurants and certain stores closed for 3-4 weeks because it’s the summer break.
What is your favorite and least favorite part about living in France?
Although everything being closed on Sundays was a cultural shock to me, but I really like that concept because then one gets a lot of time with family and to relax. I always wanted to spend my Sundays this way.
The French love their paperwork and long procedures for everything. In France, everything takes time, a long time and you are required to do a lot of paperwork. It really annoys my husband. Lol!
What is your favorite local food?
My husband and I are vegetarians so we have limited options to eat, especially the local delicacies. Having said that we love to try new things every time. My favorite is the four cheese galette (savory crepe). We love the local cheese, wines and who doesn’t love the French Desserts.
What is the most annoying stereotype about French people that you found out not to be true?
I was told that the French are not very social, friendly people and that they tend to be rude, especially if you don’t speak French. But let me tell you it’s not true at all. At least not in my case.
The old ladies love to stop and chat with you. They often stop on the street and want to talk to me or my daughter. It’s a shame I don’t understand a word they say.
What is your favorite thing to do in France that people should do if they visit?
For me, France is a very romantic country and people should take the time to experience it. Going to a small Café, walking and exploring the cities, local markets and visiting old historic churches are my favorite things to do whenever we travel within France.
What do you miss most from home?
The service industry of India is very good and efficient as compared to that of France or Europe in general. There are stores and pharmacies that are open 24*7, late-night home deliveries for food, home delivery services for groceries, salon services, etc. They are really great and affordable.
They simply make life easy especially when you are new to the city and don’t know much about it. Salon services like facials, waxing, and other such services are very cheap and excellent in India. I miss pampering myself.
What would be your top advice for people who are thinking to move to France?
To move to any new country one has to be open-minded and not expect a lot from that place. Once you don’t expect anything, it becomes easier to take-in and faces the challenges. At least that’s what I do and I have found my transition to being really easy.
Having said that, if you are moving to France, one should first and foremost learn the language and be patient. Like I mentioned above, everything in France requires a lot of paperwork and it takes a long time time to get things done.