De Normandie à Pékin: French...
Interview with Expat author -...
From Paris to Prince Edward Island: Sixtine And The Little Things
10 May, 2012 09:25
Hi, I am Deb, I am a 27 year-old Parisian French mum and I have been living in Prince Edward Island for almost two years.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I met a cute Canadian boy in Iceland in 2008, and we both decided that we should do something about it in the heat of summer 2009, in Prince Edward Island Canada. I was there for a full month. That summer, we quickly made the decision of being together again as soon as possible. I was a month away from starting my final year at a French university, and I loved being on the move so moving abroad to Canada was a very easy choice. We thought we would try for a year and see how it would go. We got married last year and have a beautiful daughter born last October ! So that trial year went pretty well
2. How do you make a living?
Before becoming pregnant, I was working as a French instructor at a local language school, and then started working as a substitute educator at a French daycare. These are two jobs I was able to get thanks to my experience in teaching and working with kids, but being bilingual is a great asset in Canada. However, I am not working right now as my work permit has expired and I am undergoing a permanent residence application that should be granted soon (hopefully!). I am hoping to find work again coming September – my daughter will be 11 months old and I am really excited for this new challenge of finding work in Prince Edward Island. It is going to be hard for sure.
I also just started working on a Worldwide Cultural Exchange via Little Red
Farm with two other lovely ladies who are
expats themselves. The aim of this exchange is sharing information about
the country you reside in with other families in your allocated group so
they can get the feel for the culture of that country. This is achieved by
sending a package to the family (usually addressed to the child or
children) with bits and pieces that you have chosen to give a good overview
of what it is like to live there. We also organize school exchanges and
match penpals together. It is very popular and you can find out more about
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I communicate with my family and closest friends very often – I have found Facebook and Skype very helpful. However, I have received many care packages since the baby’s birth and it always warms my heart. I also enjoy sending cards which are a little more personal than an e-mail.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Canada?
I love the quality of life that we have in Prince Edward Island, Canada. The air is so pure, and the landscape is just beautiful. The sands are red here, and instead of Parisian pigeons, we get seagulls! The island is a lot safer than Paris or London (I have lived there as well), and although it is not something that I minded before, now that I have a daughter, this is something that I really care about. There is a cliché saying that Canadians are laid-back and friendly and this is true. I love that about them. Islanders are especially friendly. I am currently visiting family in Paris and I had forgotten how distant and individualist most Parisians were.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Canada?
Employment: everyone knows each other where we live and it is really hard to find a job if you are from “away” as they put it. I also hate my cell and cable bills (like seriously?). I also wish (but it is not a Canadian thing, more of a small province issue) there was more things going on.
6. What do you miss most?
I miss my family and friends the most. It is really hard being so far away from them, especially now that I have a daughter who is growing up without getting to know them. She is seeing them now but she is only 6 months old so she won’t remember them. I also miss French food and fashion.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Since my husband is Canadian and has lived there all his life, he already has many friends who are themselves married and/or have children. I was able to make friends with them. I can’t say that I have put a lot of effort into making new friends but I think once I start working, it will make things easier. I am also learning to drive so once I get my license; I should be able to meet more people. I actually met a French girl at the local Public Health center of Charlottetown. She is also married to a Canadian and a first-time new mum. I couldn’t let her go without saying hi! I have made a habit of always introducing myself to other French people when I hear them talk. It is rare enough!
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I don’t drink but I find it strange that they don’t sell alcohol in superstores. It took me some time to get used to early dinner, and milk on the table during meals. The education system is also very different from ours. I was surprised to see that children over three years old were allowed wearing diapers in “school”, and that they have lunch in-class with their teacher/educator.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
If you are bilingual (French/English) you will find work easily. It is not the case. There are a lot of Acadians and Quebecers, or even people who attended French immersion in school and they do the job just as well!
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?
The cost of living is lower. However, I haven’t been working a lot so it hasn’t made any positive difference in our life. It would be more the opposite.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Prepare yourself beforehand and be open-minded always. Don’t get into a comparison-obsession and stay positive, it is only going to get better! Everything is possible.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started Sixtine And The Little Things in February. Becoming a (temporary) stay-at-home mother made me want to express myself and share with others. I didn’t have a diary as a young girl because I hated reading myself again and never thought I’d enjoy writing as much as I do now. It is getting easier for me to write each and every post, and the rewards I get from blogging are really encouraging me to improve my writing, and write more.
Deb's blog, Sixtine And The Little Things
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Very interesting testify about life in PEI. You seems embrace your new life in a very positive way which is the key (and a good portent) for the best expat life ever.I wish you'll find a job and keep in mind that your other/parallel culture is your "x factor" ;-D!