Hello, my name is Elena, also known as FromParistoSF on social media. I was born in Paris, France, and I moved to San Francisco, Bay Area five years ago to fulfill a dream.
1. Why did you move abroad?
My husband and I moved together to the Bay Area because we were sharing a common dream, living and working in the United States. He was the one who got a job here, so it made it easier for us to come.
Without hesitating a second, we left everything behind us, and decided to fly for the Silicon Valley!
2. How do you make a living ?
I graduated as a clinical Psychologist when I was in France, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t work with this diploma in the United States. Therefore, I went back to school in San Francisco in order to become a Marriage Family Therapist and continue my passion here. I got the chance to work for a little while, and meet amazing people.
We are currently in transition of visa, so I am not working at the moment. This is why I decided to create my own blog a year ago, and my instagram account, to share with the community what I enjoy in San Francisco. My blog is about my lifestyle, which includes my passion for delicious food, my travels, and my discoveries around the Bay Area.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Pretty much everyday! I call my family or my friends with Facetime, or skype whenever I am free. I have to be mindful of the time difference between San Francisco and Paris, so I usually call my family in the morning, just right before they go to bed. It is not always easy, but I need to stay in contact with them, so I make it work!
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in San Francisco?
San Francisco is a beautiful city, with its own culture, and great architecture. The food is amazing, with great products. Well I guess this is mostly why I started sharing all these great restaurants on my blog!
For people enjoying outdoors activities, the Bay Area is the place to be, we have great landscapes, beautiful hikes available to us, and of course National Parks around us. I also feel lucky to be in the heart of the tech industry. I am in the first row of today’s innovations, and it’s exciting to see passionate people fulfilling their dreams, and becoming successful.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in San Francisco?
Well, even if I find it exciting to be in the Silicon Valley, I do find it sometimes annoying to mostly meet engineers in social settings, and hear the same conversations most of the time. The discussions are mostly about start-ups, money, programming languages etc. I like to meet people from everywhere in the world, and I miss meeting people with different backgrounds, and different passions.
6. What do you miss most?
I do miss my family and my friends, especially this past year. Being so far away has some real consequences because we miss everyday life events that we would usually be a part of. I also miss the culture of France. As I said earlier, I am from Paris, and I miss the culture of my city, its architecture, its beauty, and of course I miss French cheese!!!
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
When I first moved here I got pretty lucky because by going back to school I got the chance to meet people from everywhere in the world, and create strong relationships. Some of them left, and went back to their home countries, but others are still here, and we consider them as family now.
My blog and my involvement in the community have also helped me create new relationships and meet new people. I also volunteer for a non-profit organization that helps people who suffer from severe illnesses; this was also a great way to meet new people.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I don’t know if it’s a custom or a habit, but I have found that it is harder to create deep and profound relationships with Americans, than it is with other people coming from other countries. Americans are really nice and very welcoming, but in order to become a friend it takes more time and it demands more effort.
Compared to Europe for instance, I have noticed that people in the US don’t share as much about their personal life, it takes more time to become intimate and close. Interestingly enough, my best friends here (after five years of expatriation) are from Brazil and Europe.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
Well… I am not sure. I guess people say that Americans are quite individualist. It is not my experience, as I have been around very educated people, and very open to others. Most people that I met here want to hear about my culture, and my story. By volunteering with an American organization, I have met a lot of kind people willing to help others, and make some important changes to help the community.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
San Francisco is way too expensive! I thought that Paris was an expensive city, but it is nothing compared to SF! It is quite sad when we think about it, because a lot of people cannot afford to stay here anymore, and natives have to leave their own city to be able to have a better life somewhere else. It feels like it becomes more complicated to have a good lifestyle in San Francisco because everything is expensive, from the rent, to the food, to the museums, and a lot of other activities.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
I would just advise them to reach out to other expats and avoid staying alone or isolated. There are a lot of people who are experiencing common feelings such as the loss of their roots, their habits. A lot of other expats miss their family and their friends, this is why it is important to create new relationships, and build a new community. If you cannot work, I would recommend volunteering in an organization, it is very rewarding, and it helps meet new people.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog one year ago, when I wasn’t able to work anymore. I was cooking a lot, and I wanted to share some of my recipes online. I slowly shifted from my own cooking recipes to my lifestyle in general including the trendy places to go/eat around me, my travels, my discoveries through my road-trips and more. I also discovered that it is a good way to connect with other expats and learn from each other’s experiences.
Elena's blog, FromParistoSF
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