Sunday, September 1, 2013

Choosing the Expat Life - Living in Bordeaux, France


Hotel de Ville - Bordeaux


To Stay or not to stay...
Facing the challenges of Expat life

We moved here in October 2011 with a one year plan, that quickly turned into a 2 year plan.  This was definitely an adventure move.  Uprooting ourselves from our beautiful, thriving upstate NY  life and moving ourselves all the way across the ocean to France was huge.  New country, new culture, new language - everything would change.
Place Gambetta

Yes, my husband is French and we had always spoken of doing a sabbatical year at some point in France or a French-speaking country to give our girls a chance to become bilingual and get to know the other side of their heritage. So when the opportunity presented itself - it was hard to say no.  But, for me being the American - I never looked at our move beyond the 2 year plan.  We would be going  back - I didn't have to totally say goodbye - as we would be returning.  It was hard enough to say "See you in a while  - a year or 2".  We had spent 13 years in Saratoga Springs and 5 years prior just North of there in the Adirondack Mountains - but Saratoga & Albany were "our cities" when we needed things.  Almost 20 years of building our adult and family life.

Place des Quinconces

That was how I felt when we moved here - maximum 2 years - That's it!  But then this past Winter we were faced with the decision of staying and making my husband's job here permanent or returning back to the Saratoga area, where my husband could resume his previous job.  (He had been able to take up to a 2 year leave of absence).
Enjoying a rainy afternoon in Bordeaux

To stay or not to stay? I will say - this was not an easy decision and one that took much reflection.  I share this reflection to help others understand some of our reasons.  I know many families have their own unique situations - but I also share these reasons, as I have had many inquiries from people who are interested in making a similar move abroad - Maybe this will help others too. Again, I do stress everyone's situation is unique (This is our story) - just to also clarify we are living on the Euro (so we do not convert our salary or expenses back into US dollars) - as my husband's job is also with a French company - we also gain all the benefits of living in a socialized country (i..e. healthcare, family allocation).

Language - By staying here in France -our girls can remain bilingual.  They go to French schools, speak in French with their friends and interact fluently with their French relatives.  We still speak English at home.  We watch TV in English, read books in English & French.  It's a split existence - and often are dinner conversations turn a bit into "Franglais".  There are many other expat families here who have children similar to my girls - who speak English & French.  They enjoy these friendships along with their traditional French friends.
Elementary School

English classes in French schools are started in 2nd grade.  So, they get 2-3 hours a week of English studying.  By the time they enter 6th grade - they are getting 4-5 hours a week of English instruction.  Some schools even have advanced English sections beginning in 6th grade to encourage those students who are very proficient in English.  This support further allows the kids to continue to be bilingual both in speaking and writing. We also happen to be living in an area of France that has some very good schools.  No education program is perfect, but so far we are pleased with the educational programs here.

The world is in many ways becoming smaller, more global and  economically more interdependent.  To speak a second language or even a third language is a gift. Additionally, by staying here and allowing the kids to remain solidly bilingual - it gives them more choices for Universities both here in France & back in the US.   The cost of higher education is also more manageable here in France.  Not to say I don't dream about my daughters attending my Alma mater or enjoying that "American college life" as I knew it - but this gives them more choices.  Yes, US schools are still a possibility but they may choose to start here and then do graduate school in the States.  Again, in these days and times of hefty student loans and students leaving school with huge debts - this becomes a way for us to manage these costs.

More Diversity -World perspective. - Here we live in daily in 2 languages - 2 cultures.  We have our American culture and the world around us is French.  Depending on what we are doing, we are either speaking or listening to  French or English.  Now, that might seem confusing to some - but it works for us.  We have French cable TV - enjoy the French shows - but we also stream English/American movies and TV through our Internet TV and computers, so we have a choice.  The News, as reported by French newscasters or even the British BBC, has a different perspective than the American - but we have easy access to both.  It's important to us to raise global kids and due to our bi-cultural background - bilingual kids.  I know for my older girls, they will always see themselves as American first - but gaining new insights and a different perspective for the last 2 years has given them a new awareness to life. Here they go to school with kids who have varied backgrounds - yes, French - but some are also of North African descent or other backgrounds.  They seem more sensitive to the world around them.  I'm not saying one is better than the other - I'm just saying for us, it works here.
Enjoying a snack break in Lourdes

Way of Life - One of the things I love about living in Southwestern France is the way of life.  The pace is just slower here.  No one seems to be constantly rushing around to get things done.  People walk slower, take their time doing things and enjoy good conversation over a cup of coffee. I remember noticing when I first moved here that my walking pace was so much faster than others. You don't see people rushing from place to  place with a coffee cup in their hand. (By the way, I loved enjoying a good cup of coffee that way!)  If you are eating lunch at a restaurant, count on at least an hour, maybe more.  As a family, there is less stress, a calmness in just enjoying the moment.  It's a simpler life here.  We have our technology, but we live on less.  We don't feel the same need here to have as much "stuff".  Life in France is just a bit more simple.  Not the same pressures to have the latest thing or several of them.  I do have to add that my girls are fashion divas and somehow my oldest seems to know and want to follow the latest trends. But what I do see here is that some trends are styles, not necessarily "top" or designer brands - other trends are top brands but not all the time.  I felt like in the States - everything that was "cool" where we lived was Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Aeropostale, Uggs and it all seemed to cost way too much.  But we bought it anyway.  As a parent it is always a struggle to want your children to fit in and feel accepted by others but at the same time watch the pocket book.
Cheese at the market

Food - I love the food here - and I don't just mean those delicious French recipes.  I love all the fresh vegetables and fruit that I can buy at the markets.  I love the fact that France does not allow GMO foods in the country.  Even pre-prepared foods from the supermarkets taste better here - not as much salt.  They don't use as much colorants either. We, of course, live near the Ocean - so seafood is fresher.  Meats and poultry bought locally from the markets are not as costly as it was to buy the same quality locally in Saratoga.  It's not cheap - but fresh and local. Often people say, food cost more in France - I agree some items do cost more - but other items cost less - so it sort of balances out.  I love that it's so easy to provide healthy meals here.  So much of the socializing in France is around food - families sitting around tables enjoying food and just talking.  I remember even doing that as a 16 year old exchange student with French friends.  It's beautiful to watch my children begin to do the same thing with friends and family here.

The French Baguette!

Career choices- Finally, for my husband - there are some career opportunities that are new and different in his field here. He's excited by this prospect and feels it's a place where he can make a difference.  It's a change for him, but sometimes change is good.  Another part that works for us here is that we can live on one salary.  Yes, we have to budget, watch the funds but it's do-able.  There is a calmness in our household to have me home. I feel very privileged to be able to be home with the kids.  I have always enjoyed working and part of my identity was what I did for a living.  This has been the hardest adjustment for me - to re-invent myself, to re-look at who I am and what I want to do for this next phase of my life. I never imagined I would have this opportunity when I looked at my life even 5 years ago.  After being here for a couple years, I'm ready to look at working part-time, working around the kid's schedules.  It's a choice and its exciting.  A choice that I get by staying here.  We knew that if we moved back to the States, then we would both have to work full time.

What about support? - People sometimes ask me - don't you miss home?  Yes, I do  - yes, I miss seeing my family more often. That's the downside - that's the tough part - no doubt about it.  Yes, I miss my buddies back home, my dear friends - the people I could turn to for anything...but in these days and times we have stayed in touch, we email, we chat, we Skype...we are connected but it's just different.  We have made friends here - both French families and other expat families like ourselves.  We enjoy both types of friendships.  Yes, culturally it's taken more time to make and develop the French friendships, but they are evolving and for that I am grateful.  We also have English-speaking friends that I have met through an Women's Club , here in Bordeaux.  This club is made up of International women who all speak English - they come from all different backgrounds.  This network has been wonderful for us as we have developed some very special friendships this way.    But there is a connection here that is comforting at the same time - other families who understand what we are going through adjusting to a new culture, other families who have done the same thing, other families who have children who also speak French & English.  There is a common bond that is very strong and developing.  Yes, there are families and friends who are only here for 2-3 years, but there are others who are like us - have chosen to stay. But that happens in the States too - When we were in Saratoga, we experienced several family friends who relocated due to job opportunities that came along.  

Wine Festival in Bordeaux


Certainly this area is very attractive also and makes living here even more special.  Bordeaux is a beautiful city - a place that has seen a resurgence in the past 10 years.  It is not the city it was 25 years ago - it's friendly, inviting, clean and wonderful place to live and explore.  Bordeaux has some of the best schools and education establishments in France.  It is a place full of history and actually boosts the second highest number of National monuments in France, second to Paris.  Bordeaux has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site.  It is surrounded by wine country, located 45 minutes to an hour from Ocean beaches, only a 3 hour train ride to Paris, and 3 hours from the Pyrenees Mountains and the border of Spain.  We also enjoy a temperate climate and wonderfully warm Mediterranean temperatures during the summer.  Location wise - it's also easy to travel to other places in Europe and even Africa.  I'm excited by the opportunities to do more traveling from this side of the Ocean.

All of that being said - it's pretty easy to live here.  But as an expat, there are always pros and cons to adjusting to another culture.  There are certainly days I can get very frustrated with French logic or systems but we have to look bigger and broader and use these examples to gain new insights.
Enjoying a nice moment at Chateau de La Brede

So yes, I do miss my family and friends a lot! Family is very important to me.  But we as a nuclear family, the 5 of us, needed to make a decision for us.  Does it work for us, living here?  Are we all comfortable and enjoying day to day life here?  Does this lifestyle embrace who we are and how we want to raise our children?  We even asked the children how they felt about staying and they were very comfortable with the idea.  As hard as it is to realize that this means we physically see my extended family less, we also knew that with modern technology staying in communication is much easier than it was even 15 years ago.  We love inexpensive phone calls, Skype, Facebook and so many other ways to be able to share our life with friends and family.  It's not the same as seeing them several times a year but it helps.  We also plan to visit the States every couple of years as we did with our French family when we lived in the States.  It's also fun to have family and friends visit us here - fun to share something new and different!

Choosing to live so far away from family and great friends has not been an easy choice - I think there are many life decisions that couples/families have to make that take a lot of thought.  Often, we don't know what opportunities lie ahead for us - so when one presents itself - we have to keep an open mind, open heart and know that whatever we decide - things will work out fine.  
At the Atlantic Ocean

We are excited about this new chapter of our life and we look forward to embracing new opportunities and challenges along the way as we continue our life in France.
Expat Life with a Double Buggy

67 comments:

  1. I saw this post come through my FB feed this morning before my bike ride. I couldn't wait to get home and read it- since I reflected on your headline while I was gone.

    Wow- so much of what you've said I can relate to. I go through periods of guilt over wanting to stay- over not letting the boys grow up surrounded by cousins and grandparents. There are plusses and minuses on both sides. But I love it. If we can stay longer we hope to. We can't forever (my husband would miss the US too much) but as long as possible we will stay for the same reasons that you've outlined above.
    And the coffee :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting Farrah - This was not an easy post to write - so much to say and harder to articulate than I thought it would be. There are moments I miss our life back in NY - there's a certain cultural ease there. But I really do love it here - and even though it's not my native home, there is something oddly comfortable about being here. I look forward to reading more about your adventures - happy to have connected!

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  2. Excellent post! I think you said it all so well and your reasons for staying on in France are the same as mine would be. I am Dutch, my husband is American and we've lived with our kids overseas (Indonesia, Palestine)and it has been a mind-broadening experience for them. The two of us have lived in a number of other countries as well. With the kids grown now, we are considering moving to France for the quality of life as you describe it. We love the Languedoc region and have friends there. And, as a European, I would love to live in Europe again, although I'm not so eager to take on the rain in Holland ;)

    Wishing you lots if happiness.

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    1. Thank you for commenting - always nice to hear from someone new. You are so right when you say mind-broadening experience - I love that term. It's exactly how I felt when at 16, I returned from a month of living in France as a foreign exchange student and again at 21, after attending University in England for a year. It changes you, gives you a different perspective all in a good way!. I guess that's why I want this for my kids too.

      Yes, for the most part Southern France has a temperate climate and lots of sunshine (well, except for last year...too much rain and clouds!). We have had a gorgeous summer. The Languedoc region is beautiful - we visited that area about a year and a half ago. Good luck to you - and thank you again for commenting. Come back and visit anytime.

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  3. I like your pictures. Bordeaux is a very very nice city indeed.
    I moved in the south west of France - from western Canada - 5 years ago and fell in love with the region (Bordeaux, Medoc and the neighboring Périgord region are my number one favorites).

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    1. Thank you for your kind words - so nice to hear from so many new people today. I certainly have fallen in love with this whole area. It's reignited my passion for photography - love capturing all the beauty around here! Come back and visit anytime - love hearing from readers!

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  4. I am just delighted for you! I love the way you talk about the pace of life there. I think you made an excellent choice! We spend 5 weeks in Hawaii each summer and I feel the slow down there too although without the benefit of learning French!

    I wish you outrageous joy on the journey!

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    1. I think it's my turn to be jealous - Hawaii for 5 weeks!! I have never been but it always looks so inviting, relaxing and peaceful! It's always been on my bucket list! Yes, improving my French..and learning all it's cultural nuances has been an on-going challenge. My girls all have beautiful French accents - they often get mistaken as having been born here!...and my 12 year old loves to correct me from time to time - but it's all good in the end. Thank you for your well wishes - yes - Outrageous joy - love it! So great to hear from you!

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  5. you really have hit it on the head! As I read this post it is 3yrs today since we moved into our house and I love it here! I am constantly pulled in 2 different directions of staying or returning to Australia also. It is totally our choice to stay here in France and we can leave when we like. We said we were only going for 2-3yrs and now cannot give a firm timeline of when we will return to our families back in Australia?! I want our girls to be writing and reading in french before we even start to talk about a move back at any rate. Loving your blog! xxx

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    1. Thank you Savannah for your kind words. It was not an easy post to write - I had so much to say, so many thought circling in my head. I sincerely appreciate all the feedback and compliments from everyone as it shows me that I was finally able to articulate our feelings in a way that made sense. Yes, reading and writing is definitely is key - I know my older daughters were reading/writing in English before we came and they haven't lost it. I will have to work with my youngest to teach her writing in English -but I can already see that will probably come along side learning to read/write in French. Glad you are enjoying the blog - it's a labor of love. It has turned into a great way to document our experiences and at the same time interact with a greater community. Thank you again for your compliments - they mean a lot. Feel free to comment anytime. Good luck with La Rentree!!

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  6. What a beautiful post! You have explained what a lot of expats go through so well with the challenges of being far away yet still liking your life there and its benefits for your family. I didn't feel so enamoured of New Jersey life originally but feel much more settled now. We also thought that it would only be 2-3 years at the most at the start but it will be much harder than I imagined to pick up and move home. Australia is a wonderful place but I noticed on my last visit that I don't feel so desperate to get back after all. It will be school and university choices that force us to our next decision point at some stage down the track. Love your writing btw!

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful compliments. It's so nice to connect and hear from other expats around the world! I do feel our minds broaden when we live outside our own native country - and it is different to return home. I still remember feeling that way after I studied at University in England for a year. I returned to the States, back to normal American life...but it didn't feel as normal. I had changed and everything else had the stayed the same. It is definitely hard to move...on that realm - I am happy we have chosen to stay here for a while. Come back and visit anytime - so nice to get comments from new readers.

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  7. Definitely a tough decision on so many levels. Well said in your post.

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    1. Thank you! Certain life decisions are never easy. Best of luck to your daughter for La Rentree! Is she enjoying her school in France?

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  8. So far so good. She did fine last year, let's see what this year brings.

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  9. Hi! I read your post with great attention, I am French and have been living in the US for 16 years now, but decided to go spend a year in Bordeaux last year so my 2 kids would at last know more about their "other" country. I am from Paris originally but decided it would be an easier transition to go to Bordeaux. Could not have made a better choice, that city is just one of the best places to live in in France! I fell in love with it, its architecture, its pace, its surroundings, its safety... It was tough to drag my kids there after they were born and spent 13 and 14 years in the US, and there were tears at first, but we ended up loving it and then it was tough to leave again at the end of the school year. I must admit... Even if I am French, it took me a while to get used to the French way again, was pissed at some "garcons de café" a few times or could not believe people would not greet us in stores, post office etc., but I quickly got back into the French style, after all, most are not rude, it is just the way we are! Honestly, it is nice to be greeted the way we are in the US, but do they really care about how we are doing? :) We love our 2 countries and went back to Bordeaux this summer, felt right at home! Now I have a new goal, when the kids go to college in only a few years, I want to try to spend 6 months of the year in the US and 6 months in Bordeaux! (Guess which ones:) Bonne chance et bonne rentree ! Make sure you go visit the Perigord and the Pays Basque, Isabelle

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    1. Merci - Isabelle! It's always nice to hear from the opposite perspective. I laugh when you say it's nice to be greeted they way we are in the US...but you are right - do they really mean it? I agree - I love both countries - We were from a very special town - Saratoga Springs, NY that had everything we wanted and then some...such a wonderful place. So, I too feel privileged to feel have lived in both places. Luckily, my family is over there and near where we use to live - so it will be so fun to return for visits! My extended family lives in the Perigord area - such a fascinating area. Thanks for the recommendation of the Pays Basque - heard good things about that area too. Thank you again for commenting - always nice to hear from readers. Good luck on your future goal of splitting your time..a great solution! A Bientot, j'espere!

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  10. Très intéressant. Je suis l'envers de la médaille. Je suis français d'origine, du Languedoc, et j'ai vécu en Alsace et Paris. Après 2 écoles d'ingénieur je me suis installé au Canada et 25 ans plus tard aux USA: Austin, New York et maintenant Tulsa. J'aime vivre et travailler aux US (informatique) et prendre des vacances en France.
    QUESTION: avez-vous pris la nationalité française ? Il semble que ça devient de plus en plus compliqué.
    Anyway, enjoy the wine and the cheeses.

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    1. Thank you for your compliment. Always nice to hear from new readers. Je n'ai pas pris la nationalite Francsaise encore - bientot. Matinenant - j'ai une carte de sejour/residence. J'adore tous les vins et bien sur le fromage. Le fois gras aussi!!

      Sounds like you are enjoying the US!..But it's the best of both worlds to go between both countries isn't it? Again, thanks for commenting - come back and visit again.

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  11. A brave decision, and a happy one, I think. I don't comment much, but have been following your adventures as I consider the possibility of some time in France. Thank you for your thoughtful and helpful accounts.

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    1. You are very welcome. It's so nice to hear from everyone - thank you for commenting and following along. I'm so glad this post is helpful to others. I wish I had thought to read and research before our move, but I guess...C'est la vie as they say.

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  12. WOW! Proud of you because I dont' think I could do it! While I love our visits in the summer, I guess I am too American. The hardest part is while we do have the opportunity to Europe because my husband is German. The decrease in pay and smaller house is not for me. I think also a major factor for me is that I am an only child and it would devestate my mother who is no longer with my father and alone. What a gift for your children!

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    1. Nice to hear from you...definitely not an easy decision. I feel fortunate that it works here for us. Feel very blessed. Thanks for your support and comment - love hearing from you!

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  13. Hmm, that sounds pretty good. Do they need computer programmers where your husband works?

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    1. Thanks...definitely a different life.

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  14. How exciting for you to stay!! I am sure that u will make many more wonderful memories. I am following a blog of another expat who lives in France (just not sure where atm), who's hubby is also French. If you google Kisses and Croissants, you will find her blog> I thought you might find her and her blog interesting.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment - I do follow Kisses & Croissants - she's doing a great job blogging!

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  15. What a beautiful blog!
    I just fell in love with Bordeaux (as you can see here: http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/2013/09/ma-vie-en-france.html) and send greetings from Germany!

    Love,
    Bambi

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    1. Thank you...Loved your post on Bordeaux - It is such a special place - I feel so blessed to live here!! Enjoyed exploring your blog a bit - very nice! Come back and visit again - love hearing from new readers!

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  16. I am so pleased I have come across your positive blog about ex-pat life. I am British and we are doing an old shack in Normandy - my husband would love to move out and our children are 10,7 and 3. I have basic French and my husband has none! He is also self-employed so no guarantee of income etc but I certainly am not so against such a move having read your blog. Thank you.

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    1. Natasha - you are welcome. It's not easy at times...feel free to look back at a few of my early posts. I'm generally an optimitist person and take road blocks in stride - but I've come to learn as an expat-this is just life in France..expect the unexpected. My children were basically the age of your children when we moved here...and they didn't speak any French. We knew it would be an adjustment for them, and they would experience early frustrations - but after 4 months or so - we were so surprised how quickly they picked up the language. Thank you for commenting and good luck with your decision - please feel free to email me if you have any further questions. Hope you visit the blog again.

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  17. Thank you so much - I too am an optimistic person and feel all fired up then I stumble a my kids were bullied for being English or the teachers sometimes smack the children (something a teacher would get sacked for her in the UK!) and it freaks me out a little. I am sure myself and my husband will be fine but ultimately its the kids who really have to live the life - they have to go to school and be there for a long time - if they're happy I'm happy!! Thanks again and I'm going to enjoy reading through x

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  18. I know how you feel about Bordeaux - I like the quiet simple life down here. There are more opportunities for me in other parts of France, but I don't want to live in Paris.

    Sometimes I feel a bit isolated here, but I think that is part of the beauty of Bordeaux. The countryside is green and pretty, the coastal areas are peaceful and the city is charming.

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    1. Thank you for commenting-So nice to hear from so many readers. Yes, I have fallen in love with Bordeaux!...glad to see other people appreciate it too for all it offers. I think many years ago, it didn't have the same reputation...and it still surprises people today - part of it's beauty and charm, I suppose. Come back and visit again.

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  19. Thanks for the article. I feel much the same way you do about so many of the issues we expats face in the constant emotional tug of two cultures, knowing/feeling the wonderful aspects as well as a undercurrent of melancholy. I love Bordeaux as well!

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    1. Thank you for commenting - so nice to hear from readers. So happy too - that it rings true for others as well. Yes, it's an emotional tug of 2 cultures, constantly trying to balance. Overall, though, I feel very lucky. Come back and visit anytime.

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  20. My husband and I are travelers at heart. Now that we have kids, choosing to live abroad takes on a whole new dimension. I really enjoyed reading your pros and cons of life in France and about your decision making. As in France, I also love the slower lifestyle here in Costa Rica. In the last 10 years the US influence here has been strong, so things are changing, but on the whole, life is slower, people more family oriented, and in a few areas shops close on Sundays. I love it. Visiting from the Ex Pat Diaries.

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    1. Aw, Costa Rica - someplace I would love to visit one day!! My parents had the luxury of visiting there a few years back - did a National Wildlife tour of the country - from the hundreds of photos that my father took - it looked beautiful and very diverse at the same time. Yes, having kids and balancing 2 cultures definitely takes on a whole new dimension. Thanks for commenting, so nice to hear from new readers - come back and visit anytime!

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  21. I'm glad you're staying in France. I'm sure it's difficult to be away from friends and family, but it sounds like the best decision for your family. As I was reading your post, I could tell how much you love life in Bordeaux! We want to move abroad again and it's always awkward explaining that to loved ones in the US - I think they almost feel offended for some reason.

    I hope you're getting lots of support!! xo

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    1. Thank you...Yes, I know when we first announced we were moving abroad - we had many interesting questions as to why....It definitely takes courage, risk and a willingness to start over! It's also hard to leave friends & family. I am very lucky here to have found an incredible expat women's club. The richness of of this club is truly a blessing - & for that I am so grateful. They have become wonderful friends and yes, a super support network! Good luck to you as you look for your next abroad option...it seems one people do it, they love it so much - they want to do it again!! Stay in touch - love your blog - btw!!

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  22. What a moving post. I'm a french girl living in Canada and marrying a Canadian - yet I'm always torn between loving my life here and missing home. We are talking about children and it seems odd to have children who won't know my culture. It's interesting to see how you've integrated the two cultures in your family!

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    1. Thank you - it's often a juggle of trying to fit in (and not stand out too much) but also embrace our roots and American culture. So far we have been lucky that most of our French friends are very supportive of embracing our American culture so doing a Halloween party or celebrating Thanksgiving is very interesting to them and I truly think they are fascinated - it's not "oh, those Americans". That definitely make me feel better in blending both. Thank you for your lovely words - look forward to hearing from you again.

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  23. Thanks for your article. I'm french and I live in Bordeaux, I'm glad you chose to stay here. I would like to ask something ; did you find a job here ? I guess at the beginning it was hard cause of the language barrier. But maybe the women club may help ? We are with my foreign fiance searching about some internship possibilities for her in Bordeaux. Without true french knowledge we are a bit lost ... So we are looking for a English speakers network in Bordeaux in order , maybe to help us to find ideas or slaps to reach our goals.

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    1. Thank you for commenting - always good to hear from readers. You might want to check out Internations- Bordeaux - it's a networking group - English speaking. There is a website - InterNations -and then you connect with Bordeaux, France group. Hopefully, this might help and network with other English speakers already here. Feel free to email me (email on About me page) - if you have more questions.

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  24. It's a great blog, congratulatiosn and thanks for sharing! It reminds me my experience as a French expat in the US! My husband and I spent 6 years there and came back to Bordeaux where we are from originally. Living in the states was great and I enjoyed very much living there. Of course there were some pros and cons but like everywhere I believe. You could be anywhere, you always want or miss what you don't have! Bordeaux is a great place to live in I agree. Though it took us a while to readjust, as if we were expat again ;) We still continue to speak English to our 4 year old boy who of course answers mainly in French but understands it all and can practice his English especially when interested in getting something ("can I have a candy please" is his favorite one).
    Good luck with everything in Bordeaux! I would love to chat again and practice more English ;) I miss that part from the US ;)

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    1. So nice to hear from you! Thank you for such a lovely comment. I understand trying to teach a second language - we tried teaching our girl's French while we lived in the States and they were young..but it was hard! But I know if one is committed to it then it works. You are right, there are always things I miss, but I also love where we live and our life here in Bordeaux! would love to chat again - Feel free to email me (email located on the About Me Page).

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  25. My husband and I are thinking of moving to Bordeaux and we are visiting next month. Are you aware of any good real estate agencies or sources to seek out in terms of a long term rental property? Thank you!

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    1. Please email me (address on about me page) - & I'll be glad to share some sites & realtor names with you. Look forward to hearing from you.

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  26. My husband and I are thinking of moving to Bordeaux and we are going to visit next month. Can you recommend any resources for seeking out a potential long term rental property? Thanks!

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    1. I apologize - I missed seeing this comment...looking at the date - I think it's because I had company in town, then went away and then, just missed following up. My apologies. I'm sure you have already been to Bordeaux - I hope you enjoyed your visit. As far as long-term rentals - I would just speak with different real estate agents. They work with both rentals and sales. There is no central listing in France - so talking to several different agents is normal. Good luck to you. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have - email is on the All about me page.

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  27. Thank you so much for your thorough and thoughtful post. I am looking toward living part-time in Bordeaux in the future -- not sure if it would be one week a month... or somesuch arrangement. I wouldn't be coming with a family, but hearing your thoughts was still helpful.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed the post. Happy it's helpful for people. Feel free to email me if you have any questions - email is located on the All About me page. Happy weekend!

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  28. I have been here long enough now that I just don’t think about all the feelings and worries and unrest that I had when I first got here. I’m an American from San Francisco and I moved here with my wife (Bordelaise) about 15 years ago. My wife moved from Bordeaux to live with me in SF for about 3 yesrs. So when she told me she wanted to move back to Bordeaux, I said why not. After all, my wife gave up everything to move and live with me, it’s just natural for me to do the same thing. The French test! Well, like I mentioned earlier, it’s been 15 years and 2 children later. We actually have 3, my oldest was born in SF and is now 16. Like most of you, I have fallen in love with France, however I had no intentions of moving back to the states. Like I tell my parents and friends back in the states, I found my American dream here!
    Just when all is going well, life seems to throw little obstacles and opportunities our way. I have recently been offered a position back in SF. Wow…what to do. Now all those feelings and excitement are back in a fury. I have to say that now and then, I MISS HOME. Yes, California is home. Like they say, you can take boy out of America, but you can never take America out of the boy. So here we are again, trying to decide what to do. I’m trying to negotiate a 2 or 3 year contract, but I have no assurances for when we get back. What do you say Jennifer, any thoughts or suggestions?
    I can now say that I am truly lost in translation :)

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    1. Wow - That's a tough one...I agree life here is wonderful! From what you say, like me, the French life suits you. But I truly know what you mean about being American. We will always be - won't we? The first question that comes to my mind as a mother, is what do your children (and wife) think about this new opportunity? I have some other thoughts /questions about schooling and University - which are too long to go into in this response - I would love to converse further via email if you would like. Free free to email me at americanmominbordeaux@gmail.com. Cheers!!

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    2. Hi I am from the UK and currently living in Australia with my 2 children who are 8 and 11. We are thinking about moving to Bordeaux and the kids going to the international school there. I would be really interested to know what you think about schooling and whether an English speaking child should attend an international school or a French state school? Thank you so much for your help?

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  29. Hi, thank you for your post. I am going to study in Bordeaux next year so if you are still there and need a babysitter I'd be glad to help! I myself am french but i lived as an expat in the USA during my childhood so i am quite familiar with both cultures. feel free to contact me at lucile.boccongibod@gmail.com

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  30. There's always two sides to an expat story and I love how you have captured them both here. I think living overseas really enriches us - and our children and it is a wonderful opportunity for them. The emphasis that this expat stay gives your children more options later in life is such an important one! And what a gift to be able to look at the world from two different perspectives!

    Thanks for linking up and taking part in the #ExpatLifeLinky.

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  31. Choosing to sat an expat or go home is never an easy decision for all the reasons you have outlined. Bon courage is the best I can add to your very detailed post! #ExpatLifeLinky

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  32. Whouah nice city of Bordeaux, very known for his delicious wine. The city is cool and there are a lot of activities to do around there : pays basque, toulouse, atlantic coast, ....

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  33. Good luck! It's never a easy decision when you feel like home in several places in the world.I love it how you really managed to sum of your thought process and some of the struggles with being an expat. It sounds like you have made the right decision.

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  34. Enjoyed reading about your transition and expat life in Bordeaux. I'm a fast walker (lol reading about walking above and the overall slower pace of life- how refreshing!).

    My husband starts a two year Masters there in September. It would be great fun to meet for a coffee and conversation once I'm there this fall!

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    1. Hi Lynn - Thanks for commenting - love hearing from readers. Yes - would love to meet for coffee and conversation. Also any other assistance that I might be able to help you with in your transition to Bordeaux. Feel free to email me at americanmominbordeaux@gmail.com. Have a great weekend. Jennifer

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  35. Such a lovely post! I'm planing a one year stay in France, but haven't settled for a town yet, Bordeaux seems lovely! ;) You write so nice, I love how incorporate your feeling about the place with the facts of everyday life and culture. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. Thank you for commenting - always nice to hear from readers. Choosing a city in France can definitely be difficult as there are so many nice ones to choose from. If you end of choosing Bordeaux and have any further questions, feel free to email me. Have a lovely weekend.

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  36. I just happened upon your blog and found it really helpful as we also consider a future move to France. My husband is French (Carcassonne) and I am American (San Francisco, CA). We have an 9-mo old daughter and plan to have a bigger family. The cost of living here combined with our desire for a more international and slower day-to-day living experience is making us consider a move to France sometime in the next 2-3 years. I find it exciting and scary - will I meet people and make my own friends? Will my children grow up resonating with American ideals in addition to French? Will I always feel like an outsider in some small way? A lot feeds into this inner debate.

    Question for you - from your experience, do you think there is a better age range for a child to do this type of move to create a good balance of culture/language/identity?

    Thank you for your perspective! Very helpful.

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    1. Hi Angela - Thank you so much for commenting. Your questions are so natural and I remember feeling exactly the same way when I first moved here. Your question about the best/better age range for a child to do this type of move is a big one to answer. Myself, having three girls, at three different ages when we moved, I see many differences between each of them - and now joke that I have an American, a French and a mixed/completely bilcultural daughter. I will be glad to elaborate further in an email. Feel free to email me at americanmominbordeaux@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great weekend and 4th of July! Jennifer

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  37. Hello Jennifer, I'm so glad I discovered your wonderful blog. I discovered Bordeaux last Summer and fell in love, it is now my favorite city in France. There are a lot of similarities between New Orleans my current city and Bordeaux, I have always wanted to live in France since I was small. I don't know why. I gust I have always been a francophile. When I do move to france one day the beautiful city of Bordeaux will be top on my list of places to move.

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