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The accomplishments of a successful expat in Lyon

  • expat in Lyon
Interview
Published last month

Alejandra, a Colombian expat in Lyon, France has gone through different stages of life in this historical city. A language enthusiast, Alejandra initially arrived in France to learn French but she immediately fell in love with this vibrant place, and enrolled in a Master's degree before getting a rewarding full time job as a business developer. Looking always on the bright side of life, Alejandra gives us a tour around her favourite city. 

Hi Aleja, please introduce yourself. Where are you from, what are you doing in Lyon, and what were you doing before you arrived?

My name is Maria Alejandra Moreno Arias and I’m from Colombia. I arrived in Lyon, France in September 2015 and I work in a video production company as a business developer.

What brought you to France? How long have you been in the country?

I felt I needed a change and I had wanted to learn French since I was in school. So I decided to leave Colombia and come to France to study the language. It’s been now two years and a half since I have been living in France.

What is the process of moving to France?

If you want to learn French as I did, you must have a student visa. Before applying for the visa,  you must enroll a language school for a certain amount of learning hours. You also have to follow some procedures and meet some other requirements. The regulations often change so it’s better to get the right information directly from the embassy.

What is your favourite thing about France, and what is your least favourite thing?

I love everything about France, but especially the country’s cultural scene -- there are so many things to see and discover. For example, I am passionate about dancing, and Lyon is the home of "Le biennale de La Danse", so I was very lucky. And my least favourite thing? I actually prefer to focus on the positive things!

How is today’s expat job market in France?

I think that working in France is not difficult at all. You just need to have an objective and a plan and go for it. I feel that the French job market is open to new cultures and different origins, and they appreciate what everyone has to offer. Of course, there are some problems, but in general, if I compared it with other countries, France is a good place to work. It will definitely be faster and easier to get a job, if you speak some French already.      

accommodation in Lyon

How easy or difficult it is to find accommodation in Lyon, and what type of accommodation is available for expats?            

You can find any type of accommodation. It depends on what you’re looking for. I used a website to find my roommate and it was perfect. We have been living together ever since.

What is some essential etiquette in France?

You’ve to use a formal and polite language when talking to people. In Colombia we don’t do that all the time, but here is very important, and it's better to ask for permission before addressing someone in  a less formal way. Otherwise, you risk to come across as rude.

How do you find the lifestyle in Lyon?

I love Lyon! It’s a middle-size city with many things to see and do, but still calm and easy going. On one side there are many things that happen in the cultural scene, as well as many restaurants and bars. On the  other side, the transport system and the facilities are very convenient. You also feel very safe here. For me, the best time of the year in Lyon is the summer. And if I want the variety of Paris, I am lucky enough to be travelling to the capital often with work.

How is the transportation system in Lyon? How do you move around?

In my opinion it is very good. It's easy to go from one place to another either by bus or metro. And when the spring begins you can even cycle.  

friends in Lyon

How is everyday life for you in Lyon?

My life in Lyon has changed since I first arrived because I was initially a French language student, then I started my master’s degree and was working at the same time. Right now, I’m working full time and my everyday life is a routine. I go to work, take Iunch with my colleagues, and do some sport in the evenings. But not everything is always planned -- some days I have dinner with friends, or got to the cinema.

Do you feel that you have adapted to your new life?

Yes, absolutely. For me it wasn’t difficult to adapt to France. I have been lucky enough to meet many people who have helped me with everything.

What do you do in your free time?

I like to go out with friends or stay at home and cook with them, go to the cinema, discover new restaurants or just take a solo walk. Right now, I’m trying to learn Italian, so I’m pushing myself to do this in my free time.

Are there activities for people who enjoy nightlife?

Yes, definitely! Its depends on the kind of nightlife you like. But you can find many wine-bars, restaurants, and events such as theater shows and concerts.

What new habits have you developed in France?

I walk everyday from work to home, and it takes about 30 minutes. I try to walk everywhere whenever I can. Lyon is such a beautiful city that it is nice to walk around and enjoy it.

What is your opinion on the cost of living in Lyon? For instance, how much does a bus ticket, a beer, and a loaf of bread cost?

I think Lyon is not that expensive as Paris for example. The salary that I’ve allows me to live fine, considering that is my first job at degree level. A bus ticket costs 1.80  euros if you buy it from the machines and 2.00 directly on the bus. A beer is between three and seven euros.

Lyon sunset

If you could do the move to France all over, what would you do differently?

I wouldn't change much. Maybe I would have  been less shy about speaking French to people and I would have studied some French before coming.

What do you miss the most about your home country?

I miss a lot my family and friends. But also the food. Back home I could eat fruits all year round without thinking what's in season. I also miss speaking Spanish and making  jokes that everybody can understand.

Have you had a moment where you almost felt like leaving France? How did you overcome that? What kept you there?

Yes, my master’s was a programme during which you study and work at the same time. So, at that time it was difficult for me to find a job, and I told myself that I would have to leave. But at the end,  it all worked out as I found my current job and here I am.

Can you give some useful tips that soon-to-be expatriates in France might benefit from.  

If it’s possible learn a little bit of French before coming. Don’t be afraid and take risks. Talk to people outside, in the shops, and at restaurants to improve your French.Don’t worry about your accent (especially if you come from South America). Be open to everything.

What are your plans for the future?

I’d like to stay for a while and keep working at my current job. Also, I would like to continue learning languages and traveling.