8 November 2016

Floriane - Expat in the USA

Floriane - Expat in the USA

We’ve had the chance to talk to Floriane, 24 a French expat who has moved to the USA with her husband. Mrs. Floriane who has been living there for two months, is unemployed.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q:Where are you from originally?

A: I am originally from France.


Q: What made you move out of France?

A: What made me move out of France is the man who would become my husband.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I am living in Michigan, in the Midwest of the USA. Well, this is the state where my husband was already established.


Q: How long have you been living in the USA?

A: I have been living in the USA for two months now but I already visited my husband in April (At that moment, I stayed three months and we got engaged)


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I am living with my husband and my in-laws. They are adjusting to the expat lifestyle by buying products they know I love and that remind me of my country, they explain to me what certain words mean to broaden my vocabulary or help me understanding the new world of the weird imperial system, only specific to the USA. In brief they help me adapt to the country, its cuisine and its customs too. They make me feel at home and I really appreciate it.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Yes I miss home and family sometimes. I cope with homesickness by finding hobbies I enjoy. I cook French dishes and pastries that I liked in my country but can’t find here, I work with crafts (card making, journal..). I read about what is happening in my country to still feel part of it. Also, I started a blog to keep away homesickness: it always helps to share your experience with other people as much as it helps and it is interesting to read about theirs too.

I call my mother often to know what is going on there. It is reassuring to have her on the phone and it is important to keep her updated on what is happening in my life.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: People in Michigan are very nice and agreeable in general. I really like that they are always ready to help you and that you are welcomed everywhere with a smile and a nice sentence. Though it seems a little bit superficial to me because I know they are trying to sell products to you, I think some of them are just sincerely willing to be nice.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in the USA? How did you manage to find a social circle there?

A: I haven’t made friends or met people yet because I have been busy organizing my new expat life, including organizing my wedding and taking care of administrative procedures. Also, I am not independent yet (I am waiting on my SSN to get an insurance, my driver’s license, open a bank account..). I haven’t met other expats in the US either although I would really like to.


Q: How does the cost of living in the USA compared to your home?

  • Q:How much is a cup of coffee?

A: I don’t drink coffee but my husband says the cup of coffee is slightly cheaper here.

  • Q:How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: It is definitely cheaper here than in France.

  • Q:How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

 A: It is comparable to the cost of a dinner in an expensive restaurant in France.

  •  Q:How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

 A: A pack of cigarettes is cheaper than in France. The price of a bottle of wine is comparable to the one in France especially since you can find a lot of French wines here too.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in the USA?

A: Wait until you get your SSN (Social Security Number) to be able to open a bank account.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: The visa is a long and tiring process. It takes a lot of time and money. You have to be your own secretary and be well organized among the pile of papers to fill if you want the processing times to be shorter. I am about to take care of my adjustment of status so I can’t tell for the work permit yet. The only thing I know is that an Employment Authorization usually takes around 3 months.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in the USA is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: I haven’t experienced the American Healthcare yet. Advice : if you have a simple problem like a cold or a little infection, go to a walk­in clinic or if you are close to a family doctor or know a doctor there personally, they can help you.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or the USA? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: No I haven’t secured a health insurance in my host country yet. In my mind, if you don’t have any serious disease or health problem, I would recommend taking a basic coverage, adapted to your needs. It is hard to judge what should be the essential in the coverage for expats as everyone is different.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to the USA? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I didn’t use any mover. I was only by myself with my backpack and my one suitcase. As I am paranoid, I started packing my suitcase one month early to not forget anything and also because I was excited to join my husband!


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: I would say the government paperwork.

I don’t have an SSN yet, for example, you can’t take your driver’s license or open a bank account.. all that is essential here. I miss French cheese too!


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in the USA?

A: The positive sides: I am now able to spend my time with my husband and don’t have to worry about one of us having to leave at some point anymore. I get a good practice by speaking English every day to improve it. Unlike France, I can go to the grocery store anytime because a lot of stores are open 24 hours and stores are not closed on Sunday, which is very practical. If I have a crave for something or if I don’t have the time to get groceries during the daytime, I can even go get them at 3 am if I want!

The price of the driver’s license is a big advantage. It is so much cheaper to get your driver’s license here than in France.

I also like this feeling of freedom here. I feel that people can wear whatever they want, drive whatever they want and nobody judges them. I often see people in pajamas at weird hours in grocery stores and ridiculous trucks ready for war !! Also here, people are pushed optimistically towards their goals, either at work or at school. In France, the first thing I heard in college was “Well, half of your promo won’t be here anymore for the second semester”, not really the best way to encourage you in doing your best.

The negative sides: as the United States are a big country so you have to drive quite a bit to go from one point to another, even if it doesn’t look like it on a map.

  • ­The imperial system, as I said earlier. It is tricky, as a European, to adapt to ounces, pounds, miles, degrees Fahrenheit.. they are the only ones to use that (this is why I always have a conversion board pinned on the refrigerator).
  • ­The healthcare system. It does not seem right to me to see people hesitating to go to the doctor if they are really sick because they are afraid of how much it can cost. The cost of the healthcare here is exorbitant. I feel lucky to not have any serious health problem.
  • ­The need of a car for everything you do. (of course, it depends on where you live)


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: I would recommend the Detroit Institute of Arts which is one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States. If you want to go on a road trip or take the Amtrak (name of the train in the US), I would definitely recommend going to Traverse City or Chicago. Traverse City is amazing, it has a lot of vineyards, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, nice beaches, farmer’s market and nice houses, I really had a good time there for my honeymoon.

Chicago is a gigantic city. Beautiful lakefront, a lot of parks, unique buildings. I fell in love with the historical district full of Victorian­style houses.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: No I do not have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future. Though, I definitely plan to travel more with my Companion in the USA and other countries. I also plan to visit places in France that I haven’t explored yet as well as visiting my mother as soon as it will be possible.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: I would tell them to not stay alone. To find something to do on a daily basis, a hobby they love, a club they could join where they could meet other people for example. To remain open­minded because all that they are going to experience from now is going to be different. Also, it is part of your expatriation to explore the area where you live. Find places where you would like to hangout more often.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about USA?

A: To help other expats with their procedure of immigration, I would totally recommend visa journey, which explain every step of it in details and give you advice for the organization of your file. It also has forums if you have difficulties with it where expats can help you as well.

Expat.com which is an awesome website where you can ask questions to other expats, share your blog and discover other blogs, read about expats’s stories, find a guide for your expatriation, and find events in your area.

There are many blogs I like. I have visited a lot of them to get an insight on the expat life before I moved to the USA. Among them, Elle a dit yes, French Fries and Apple Pie (this blog has a English translation for some articles), Sarah conte Philly, A nous la Californie and FromSide2Side. But I discover new blogs I like all the time.

Also, could you add a link to the blog I just started? https://mrsfroggyandmreagleblog.wordpress.com/