We had the pleasure of meeting Judith Keys. Ten years ago, Judith, 41 years old, left her home in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. She briefly shares her story as an international immigrant living on the outskirts of Avignon in a small village near the town of Nyons.
Why did you move to France?
During the holidays, my parents and I would always visit France when I was growing up. Our family fell in love with the landscape, the people, the food, and the culture. Apart from that, I also learned some French in school. France seemed like the ideal place to start a new life as I was already quite knowledgeable of the country.
What were you doing before you moved?
I worked at a law firm in Edinburgh for 8 years. The daily grind of working in a corporate setting was tedious! In June 2012, I decided to go on a sabbatical to France. During this time of self-reflection, I realized I didn't want to return to the Corporate lifestyle anymore. The feeling that there was something more in life than what I was currently living pushed me to take the initiative. That was when I decided to move to France.
What are some obstacles that you've run into?
Some major obstacles that I ran into were the typical immigration problems such as administration and language barriers. The French administration is always a struggle for those who aren't fluent in the language. Although I already knew the language a bit, it was still a bit of a struggle to navigate through the bureaucracy.
I created a business and recently just started a new one. One thing that we as ex-pats don't talk much about is the loneliness that comes with moving to a new country. Because of this, I decided to create a new Facebook group called My Best Friend in France. The purpose of the group is to provide a safe place for emotional support to others who have gone through the same emotional difficulties when moving to France. We often talk about the general hardships of moving to a new country, but rarely the hardships of mental health associated with it. This group acts as a listening ear.
My goal for the near future is to create a membership page that will also administer podcasts and videos of experts and professionals in all industries in France to provide correct and informative information for those living in France.
Could you tell us more about your life here in France?
It's been quite a journey! It's never easy to get up and leave everything behind and start anew!
My partner has been very supportive throughout my transition here. I had my first son in 2017 and my youngest son in 2021. Having my children pushed me to go out of my comfort zone and meet new people who have similar commonalities to me and/or are going through the same thing.
Originally, I wanted to surround myself with only French people so that I could integrate myself into the culture more easily. But then I decided that I wanted to meet others of different backgrounds who also speak English. It’s nice to speak your language so that you’re able to express yourself in the way that you want to. Also, I recently joined a choir! It's great because it's not only in French – we sing in many different languages!
What would you recommend to those moving to France?
Push yourself! Get out of your comfort zone, especially if you live in a small village without too many people. It took me a while to muster the courage to do this, but once I decided to jump into French life, it just got better and better!
Want to share your relocation story?
EasyStart aspires to become a key player in the relocation market in France and Spain while maintaining our ethics and our values of mutual aid and benevolence. We love hearing and sharing the stories of others and their relocation journey! If you have an interesting story to tell, we would love to hear from you! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, briefly explain your story, and we will reach out to you for a possible interview to be featured on our blog!