Lisa: “If I had to wait for someone to come with me, I would never have left…”

  • expat in Los Angeles
Interview
Published 2 weeks ago

Moving abroad on your own is no easy feat. Some might argue that it is particularly hard when you’re a woman. So on this International Women’s Day, Expat.com celebrates the wonderful women who have made the big move abroad. Here’s Lisa… she’s a French girl who pursued the dream of studying Film in Los Angeles!

What made you want to move abroad?

I actually wanted to change careers but was "stuck" in France in a job that paid the bills but that I was not really passionate about. I talked about it to my mum and she was the one who encouraged me to leave.

How did your entourage react to that?

My mother was the one who gave me the nudge out of the door so she was actually very okay with it. She knew I liked travel and that I would probably want to live outside of France- she knew it would happen. For the rest of my entourage, they actually didn't believe me at first. The US for them is a bit of a dream country, it exists but it's not real in the sense that they've never been there.

The one I really had to convince was my stepfather, and that took several weeks of "You're not really leaving right?". But he eventually accepted the idea.

My friends were super happy for me but not that surprised, I've always been inclined to live to an English speaking country.

Did your stepfather’s skepticism make you reconsider your decision?

My stepdad did make me doubt a little, and I had a hard time convincing myself that is was going to be okay. But my mom helped me throughout the visa procedures and when I was done- I knew this is what I wanted.

Did the fact that you were alone and a woman weigh in on where you wanted/could live?

I live in Los Angeles, because that's where my school is. I gathered information here and there before leaving, what kind of neighborhood I wanted, what kind of apartment, rent…  As a single woman you have to be extra careful as some neighborhoods won't be dangerous but not recommended. I have never been afraid of Los Angeles or big cities in general, but I am still careful. I found a girl in the same position as me two days before leaving and we agreed on meeting in LA. Long story short, we ended up being roommates and have been for more than a year !

Have you ever felt unsafe living abroad on your own?

In Los Angeles I usually feel safer than I did when I was living next to Paris. I generally don't feel unsafe, although I'm always careful about where I go.

Would things have been easier if you had had someone with you?

I don't think so. I like to do things alone in my life (going to the theater, going to a concert, going to Vegas) and if I had to wait for someone to come with me, I would never have left. Sometimes it's nice to have a presence to make you feel safer, but it can easily become a nightmare because usually even if two people go to the same place, they have very different expectations. I don't really need someone by my side to be excited about things happening in my life.

What is your favorite thing about being a solo expat?

I get to do what I want without the family eye always on me. For example in France, I was seeing my family very often because we all live in the same street, and the same questions pop up all the time and it can be a hustle sometimes. I don't have to justify my choices. I feel more free.

What message would you want to send out to women who might be scared to move abroad alone?

Being a solo expat can be scary and tricky, a lot of paperwork sometimes, a lot of organization, but if you leave with a plan, everything will be alright.

I encourage everyone to follow their dreams, although always have a definite plan, don't leave just because you want to leave, never leave for bad reasons.

If you have good reasons, and a good plan, best luck to all of you !