Caroline Szipira tells us about coming home after living abroad

Interview
Published 2 weeks ago

A bit more than a year after moving back to France, Caroline Szipira tells Expat.com about the process of moving home from living abroad.

How long were you in the United States for?

I decided to study in UCLA in 2012 and spent five years in Los Angeles, California.

Why did you choose the United States?

Living in the US has always been a dream of mine. More than anything, I had always wanted to study at an American university. When I was presented with the opportunity at the perfect timing, I seized it.

When and why did you decide to return to France?

I came back in the summer of 2017. There were many reasons to stay, but also to return. I realised it would be difficult to grow professionally in Los Angeles.

After five years, it felt right to go home, I realised the adventure in Los Angeles was over. My visa expired and even though I had a professional opportunity to stay, I decided to go back to start a new life in Paris.

Did you have a job waiting for you?

I did not have a job waiting for me in Paris. I actually only started searching for a job in October after moving back because I had trips planned already. I had found a job by the end of October, a lot thanks to my experience abroad.

Was the decision difficult to make?

Yes and no ! I wanted something new! It is never easy to leave after five years of building a life for yourself.

How did you prepare for your return?

In fact, everything went pretty smoothly. I found a tenant for my flat in just over 24 hours and sold my stuff soon after that. Regarding formalities, I did not have much to do either, except buying a plane ticket! It is, of course, easier to leave than to enter the US.

Any major difficulties?

They started once I arrived in France. Taxes, looking for accommodation and stuff were no easy feat.

What was the most difficult?

My biggest challenge was finding an accommodation in Paris. There is a massive competition, a tight market and the landlords are very demanding. I did not have French paychecks or a rental history in France which are both required. I, therefore, had to gather a solid dossier with family members vouching for me.

How did manage to land an accommodation in the end?

I had to provide American equivalents to what was required and spend time explaining to the real estate agents my atypical situation.To be honest with you, this really was not fun! Many homeowners did not accept my file because it was considered too flimsy. I had to be even more rigorous and original in my applications. So I added a letter of motivation to my dossier (YES!). I had to introduce myself and my particular situation to make it easier for the landlords.

Things you would have done differently?

I would probably have started working of a dossier well before had I known what would be required and how hard it would have been.

How did you manage coming back emotionally?

The first few days were pretty hard. Of course, inevitably, I kept wondering whether I had made the right decision.

Between jet lag, exhaustion and excitement, I was a bit lost and I had a hard time knowing what I was doing there! I used to return to France only for a few days and  the feeling was very different.

But then, soon enough, I was almost 100% finding my bearings. In the weeks that followed, I even felt relieved to no longer have to worry about a visa or a life that was not necessarily stable.

What do you miss the most?

The sun, without any hesitation! The good mood and the Californian atmosphere. And of course, the palms!

Future expat projects?

Not right now, but I’m not crossing it out entirely!