First Impressions – Life in the suburbs

First Impressions of life in the suburbs

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If you ever considered moving to France, whether for studies, a job or just exploring someplace new, let me tell you – this will probably be one of the best decisions of your life, and assuredly one that will always be remembered. My husband, Oron, and I (together with our dog, Nala) had recently moved from Israel to a small village in France, located near Paris, due to his MBA studies in the prestigious HEC Paris Business School.

The name can be somewhat misleading, as HEC Paris is actually located outside of the capital. And while living in a village doesn’t quite give us the “Parisian experience” we hoped for, luckily, we get to spend a fair amount of time in Paris, mostly when we’re longing for a fancy dinner, a night in the local bars, or just a stroll along the streets to enjoy the architecture, style, and vibe that this beautiful city offers. Paris can, without a doubt, fulfill any of our desires, and after 4 months, we’re yet to discover all of its wonders.

Our “to do list”, consisted mostly of restaurants (we are keen foodies) and cocktail bars (yes, we prefer our spirits in a shaped glass with a zest of an orange) just keeps expanding every day. Unfortunately, our budget suffers from the opposite condition. Then again, living in a small village does have its advantages. Above all is the fact that for the first time in our lives, nature surrounds us and it’s abundant. Looking out the window when I wake up in the morning and see all the verdant automatically fills my soul and gives a sense of serenity. There’s a quote that says “sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere you find yourself”. As Cliché as it sounds, sometimes it feels very true (not to worry, we’re not really in the middle of nowhere).

Fortunately, we were able to find a spacious house in what I would call a “rustic style”, with a big private garden – something we could only dream of if we were to live in Paris. Our house is one of the oldest houses in the village and was built back in 1862. The owner of the house even kept the original parquet floor, known as “parquet Versailles”, in one of the rooms.

How crazy is it to think that the same piece of wood Nala is drooling on has carried the feet of different people for over 150 years? Two things that are available everywhere in France (and thank god, in our village as well) are good quality cheeses and wines, at a very reasonable price. The variety of French cheeses and wines is simply unbelievable, especially coming from Israel, where not only the variety is limited, but the prices are extremely high. Drinking wine and eating cheese is an essential part of French culture – it’s not a myth! We were more than happy to adopt this culture, as well as some other French food habits like having an aperitif before dinner and taking the time around the dining table.

Generally speaking, if there is one thing that I can’t complain about, even if I try, is food and wine. Summing up my first 5 months in France, I can say that though moving to a different country is a challenging experience – both as individuals and as a couple, it has also been a very thrilling, empowering and a life-changing adventure. The whole concept of adapting to a new culture, language and mentality makes you face a wide range of emotions on a day-to-day basis and an encounter with existential questions and philosophical thoughts. Having a lot of time to reflect and going through such an extraordinary adventure, which at times can be overwhelming, feels like a journey – one that I should definitely write down, not only for the sake of maintaining my memories but also for the sake of self-exploring. A relocation means time to discover new places, new food, new people, as well as time to wonder about the things you love, your relationships, and your path in life. This is my journey.

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About Hila Amsalem 1 Article
An Israeli lawyer. On August 2017 I moved from Israel to France with my husband and dog. I write about my relocation experience, consisting of thrilling experiences and encounters, as well as challenges and personal growth.