Whether you have been reading my blog for some time or are just discovering me, you might be wondering why I spend hours writing blog posts to help expats about relocating to France?
Well, before I answer this question, let me tell you a little bit more about me.
My name is Guillemette RONY. I’m from Lyon, a city that I love but I love the expatriation adventure too!
I have lived (more than 6 consecutive months) in 7 different countries. But my name is very difficult to pronounce for anyone and it is even difficult to remember for French nationals too! I have many different nicknames, but I relate to Guiga or Mademoiselle Guiga, mainly used by Brazilians.
I have started this blog during our first Covid lockdown back in April 2020 to help expats with the question I receive the most: How to relocate to France.
There is no straight answer to this question and many possibilities that could suit many different life trajectories!
I have had this idea for a while, and the lockdown gave me the opportunity, time, and extra push I needed to start this new adventure!
So you are an expat too?
I’m currently living in Lyon, my home town but working on my next expatriation… Brazil. There are still a few things I need to tick on my relocation action plan to be able to go in the best possible conditions, but hopefully, it will be some time soon.
The good news is that I can continue writing the blog wherever I am in the world!
But since I’m 18, I’ve always seen myself as an expat.
I’ve studied International Relations and translation. I’ve done internships in Ireland, Argentina and Luxemburg and then I started my career in London and continued it in Barcelona.
So the international vibe has definitely set the tone of my life,
I have been expatriated for studies, for work and also for love for a total of approximately 7 years so far.
What do you prefer about the expat life?
The intensity and the discovery!
Expat life is about ups and downs and how we embrace them.
I’ve had my worst moments abroad but also my best ones!
And realising that I can overcome such difficult life challenges far from my comfort zone; but also recreate a new home with new friends, in several countries and languages make me feel alive.
I am also a polyglot and love learning languages. So having the chance to speak daily in a foreign language I love is also part of my dream. Which doesn’t mean there aren’t misunderstandings but also culture shocks.
But I love discovering how something totally normal in France could be really awkward in the UK or Brazil for example.
How did it all start for you?
The expatriate lifestyle calling was actually the accumulation of two life experiences. And both of them happened when I was still a child or a teenager.
As a child, my best friend was Franco-Moroccan. But when we turned 7, she and her family left Lyon and moved to Morocco. We were both devastated by her departure! However, our parents did everything they could to help maintain our friendship.
I was lucky to be able to spend almost every summer in Morocco. This was my first discovery of a foreign culture! And it just opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
Later, at school, I was loving learning English. When I was 14, and my older brother was 17. My parents offered him to go on an exchange programme to Ontario, Canada since one of our cousins did it. However, my brother didn’t want to go. And I did!
But, I had to insist a bit because my parents thought I was too young to leave for 3 months that far. It didn’t take too much effort because I managed to go one year later! You can read about my experience at school there in this post.
Living the everyday life routine in Canada was way more of a challenge than going to Morocco on vacation to visit a friend. And I loved it!
Even though I had good marks in English, the first month I couldn’t understand much. I remember trying to have a conversation with Brenda, the mother, and I couldn’t understand or make myself understood without my dictionary (yes, this was before the smartphone era!).
These two experiences naturally led me to choose international studies at University. I was looking for a programme that would allow me to spend as much time abroad as possible. And I did!
My first professional expatriation
After graduating with my MA in International Relations, I found my first job in London, UK, in the relocation industry!
If you want to know more about how I landed a job abroad before moving, you will find my international job search strategy here.
I had been expatriated as a student in 3 different countries before arriving in London. And I was so delighted to learn how to help other expats to relocate!
I lived in London for 3 years, I fully enjoyed it! It was a step up in my career and also an incredible life experience!
I worked on the London Olympics to organise the relocation of the Olympic Committee professionals and also other large multinationals.
I got to meet people from all over the world, enjoy all the culture and opportunities London has to offer. But after 3 years of intense experience, I felt that I had reached the end of the London cycle. I had lived and discovered more than I could wish for!
My first expatriation failure
My dream was to relocate to Brazil, a country that I had the chance to discover when I was living in Buenos Aires as a student. Straightaway I loved the Brazilian culture, the people, its music, and also all its dance…
I was determined to learn Portuguese and relocate there at the time of the Football World Cup and the Olympic Games.
For about 2 years, I worked on this project. I even had job interviews in Brazil but they didn’t go through due to immigration difficulties. If you are a non-EU national trying to come to France, you will understand!
Then, I decided not to persevere and leave this dream on the side but I continued learning as much as I could about this country and its culture. It had become a passion.
The expat life goes on...
I decided to move to a warmer country, at least warmer than the UK 😉
And I found a job in Barcelona as a Global Mobility officer in a big multinational, an American company. I was assisting expatriates and their families in all the aspects of their relocation.
But after 18 months in Barcelona, I felt the need to go back home, at least for a while.
Why did you move back home?
After experiencing daily life in 7 different countries, I felt like an eternal expat and I thought I would never return home, but life happens and we also have different stages and needs in life.
My first niece was born and felt the urge to be close to my family, in Lyon, France.
So I went back but I couldn’t make it as a final decision!
And I can tell you, repatriation can sometimes be harder than the initial relocation!
When my friends and family were asking me: « so, is it for good? Are you staying? », I would answer « For now, yes… »
It has now been about 5 years since I repatriated.
I worked for 3 years at the University of Lyon, assisting international researchers and PhD students to come to Lyon and then in another international company leading the Global Mobility department.
Why this blog?
Having extensive personal and more than 10 years of professional experience of expatriation, my wish is now to share my passion and help as many people as possible to move to France!
I know the hassle of preparing a move abroad and being totally lost in the foreign red tape, not understanding a word of what other people are saying and experiencing a strong culture shock…
I want to make your relocation to France a bit easier and all in ENGLISH (with my French touch)!
I also want to help you understand the French culture, the good and the bad sides. Yes! Nobody is perfect! Even if French people think they can be sometimes… aha! Yes, I promise I’m French!