Growing Up Abroad

In honor of having reached 1,000 views in my first month, I’m going to post about the topic my friend Brian suggested in response to my first post (took me a while, huh?!)

He asked me whether growing up in a foreign country has pushed me to strive for better, has hindered me, or something else altogether. Well Brian, I don’t know if it has been the same for you but I think it has done all three for me.

Moving here when I was 8 was actually pretty traumatic. I had a difficult time making friends since I spoke close to no English, and you know how mean kids can be in elementary school. Home-life was stressful too since members of my family were adapting to the move to varying degrees and emotions were pretty tempestuous for the first few years. So moving here definitely made me more sensitive and emotional, which has hindered me in some ways but has also helped in others.

It did also push me to strive for better though. I like to think that I worked hard in high school. I took some AP courses, took 4 years of Japanese… you get the idea. A big part of this was growing up with a lot of studious, hardworking Asian immigrants.  Wanting to fit in with them motivated me to work even harder than I may have otherwise. I’m sure it helped that I honestly love to learn too.

I'm such a bookworm

My love of learning, paired with the feeling that I didn’t truly fit in (until discovering AIESEC a few years ago =] ), also pushed me to seek fulfillment in learning and self-development. This has been great since I really enjoy learning things by trying different jobs. I’ve had many part-time jobs and internships over the years, acquired a variety of skills from them and made tons of connections (check out my LinkedIn profile)

Lastly, moving to a new country when I was young taught me to appreciate, respect and be open-minded about cultures. I now find them fascinating and try to be careful not to discredit or judge cultures I’m unfamiliar with.

As you can see, it has had a very big influence in my life! What about you? What impact do you think it has had in your life or in the lives of people you know? This is the US after all…

Why I’m Moving to France, Part 2

There’s actually a second reason I’m moving back to France this September: I want to prove to myself that I’ll be able to thrive as well there as I have here.

Moving to my country of origin isn’t as scary as relocating to a completely new region where I don’t speak the language (like I did when I first came here), but it’s still intimidating. I’ve been away for more than thirteen years. This means I don’t have firsthand knowledge about general things such as how to get an apartment or what French university grads like to do in their leisure time and, even more importantly, how the employment system works in France. I have no idea how important different things such as university grades, language ability and cover letters are weighed when comparing potential hires, or what I should do to make myself stand out as a desirable candidate.

Can you find little Anne-Sophie in her 1st American class picture?

I know things are different there; they run on a different system. For example, graduating from a prestigious university is pretty much the only way one can hope to reach the higher rungs of management in France. Furthermore, start-ups, which are a great way to learn and develop oneself quickly on the fly, are not very common in France because of a cultural aversion to taking risks. This aversion to risk is probably the reason I’m so intimidated to throw myself back into France and flail around for a bit until I create a strong, secure footing for myself. Back to start-ups: I have loved working with start-ups in the Bay Area for several reasons (which will probably have to take another post, but here’s a shortened, concise-ish list O;] )

  1. Start-ups can’t afford to pay experienced professionals so they love to hire motivated, bright young things like me
  2. This allows affore-mentioned inexperienced, motivated, bright young things to stop making photocopies and dive right into meaningful work that actually yields visible, tangible results (very fulfilling =] )
  3. Diving right into this work with little experience is a great learning experience: you’re not watching a more experienced manager or executive do work–you’re DOING this work and reading everything you can to make sure you learn quickly and do it well!
  4. They often don’t have enough people to do everything so you get to dabble in anything you have the time and interest to

In the interest of stopping this post from “tangenting” into a post about the merits of working for a start-up (I definitely seem to be going on a lot of tangents today!), I’ll stop this list here. Take my word for it though, if you’re fresh out of college and looking for some good experience, work for start-ups–I’m definitely going to try to continue doing so! I’m disappointed that there aren’t many in France (although it seems this may be changing slowly), but I’ve been fortunate enough to nab an interview with one so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Let’s sum all this up before this post turns into a novel. I’m intimidated and afraid of the frustration and tough moments I’ll run into, but I know this challenge will be worth my time. Not only will I gain personal strength from this experience, but I will also become more resourceful, learn to make myself more marketable, and get to reconnect with my native culture.

Why I’m Moving to France

As soon as news that I’m moving to Paris started spreading everyone started asking me 2 things: “Why?” and “Can I come visit you?!” so I thought I would write a post I can direct y’all to for the complete explanation I’m too lazy to repeat to you curious lads. Get ready for story time kids =]

Let’s take a walk back in time… I moved to Georgia (the U.S. state not the country)because of my dad’s job when I was eight years old. When my family lived in Georgia, we went back to France every summer and winter. Each trip only lasted a few weeks to a month, but it was still valuable time I got to spend with my grandparents, cousins, uncles and auntie, and all the rest of my relatives and family friends. I always enjoyed being reunited with my cousins and visiting my grandparents’ friends in the country side.

When we moved again three years later, this time to California, we were further away by plane. However, we were not only further away geographically, but further away emotionally. After three years in expatriation, my father,mother, little brother and I just weren’t as close to our relatives anymore. As the years went by we began to return to France for visits less and less frequently. At first we went every summer, but as my little brother and I grew up summer jobs and exploring the rest of the world began to have more appeal than being dotted upon by our well-meaning relatives. My grandparents even came over a few times.It was actually during one of those visits that I realized that my grandparents were growing older and, dare I say so, frail.

My paternal grandparents, little brother and I

My dad’s parents’ last visit to California was while I was still in high school. I was very happy to see them, but the trip didn’t end very well. One night, my grandmother got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, but she didn’t find it. Instead, she passed right by the bathroom and fell down the stairs to the first floor. Ambulances came and everything, but my brother and I slept through the whole thing. We only found out the next morning. Our grandmother broke her clavicle (her collar bone), but the doctors said she would be fine. I guess in a way she was fine. She recuperated and eventually healed, but she never came to visit us in California again.

This incident stands out clearly in my memory as the beginning of my grandmother’s death. She hasn’t died yet, but every time I see her or speak to her on the phone I wonder if it’s the last time I’ll get to. Over the last few years she has gotten much worse. She has Parkinson’s now, is losing her eyesight, and an old surgery to her feet makes it very painful for her to stand or walk. Seeing her and my maternal grandmother deal with all of their health problems and ailments (she’s been having back problems and all sorts of other things) has forced me to face the fact that I grew up without them and may never get the chance to know them if I don’t make a conscious decision to do what I can to make up for lost time now.

My little brother with my maternal grandparents

And this is the reason I want to move back to Paris. I grew up far away from my grandparents, but they’re not gone yet and I should make the best use of the time I still have with them.

Hello world!

 Hi! Thanks for dropping by my blog!

Here I will be keeping all you wonderful folks updated about my move to Paris and my fabulous life once I get settled. I’ll also write about things going on in my life (like the Free French Lessons I’m going to be giving starting next week–look for more info in my next post), sharing helpful advice I come across in my search for work and interesting articles I read online.

This blog is a work in progress and may take a little while to perfect, but bear with me and always feel
free to give me feedback! 

Now to get the conversation started, leave me a message with topic(s) you would be interested in reading about here.



P.S.: here’s a picture of the Eiffel Tower I took on a trip to France a few years ago.