The thought of leaving France always gave me an anxiety attack. I would break into a cold sweat while my heart fluttered wildly. Then my mind would go into overdrive analyzing every possible path that would lead to an extended visa. Since 2007 I’ve managed three moves to France, each on my own merits, lived in three different regions, three different arrondissement of Paris, and have spent every moment of the last six years loving life abroad.
These last two years in Paris have been my most intimate with the French culture as I’ve worked towards my MBA at a French university – where all coursework and lectures were in French. The university opened my world into the heart of Paris where I experienced its culturally rich depths. I explored the contemporary art galleries with the next generation of great Parisian gallery directors. I enjoyed private tours to a number of museums, was invited to explore exclusive museum-worthy collections at galleries like Kraemer and Didier Aaron (where I felt like a queen touching (and sitting in) furniture you’d get kicked out of museums for trying). I interned with Sotheby’s Paris on the luxurious Rue Saint Honoré. I worked with a gallery for the Biennale des Antiquaires, one of Paris’ most famous art fairs… in the Grand Palais no less. And I was invited to other art fairs such as Art Paris, FIAC and TEFAF in Maastricht. I designed a 180-page monograph working directly with the artist, which was later published. And I sold a Calder for more than my undergraduate tuition. My friendships with the French grew naturally, organically and with time. At least one will be a friend for life. And I made lifelong friends with other amazing people from the expat community.
But this Spring, always striving to let my dreams reign, the idea of moving on from Paris stopped sending my heart into a tantrum of worry. As I listened to what my heart was telling me, new dreams began to emerge and I knew they were leading me beyond the City of Light.
I’ve worked hard not to become so wrapped up in an identity that I couldn’t let go for new adventures and, even as the francophile I may be, I never intended for the road to stop here. I’ve always believed we should fight for our dreams, but we also shouldn’t become so attached to old dreams that we fear embracing new ones. And so as I wrap up the last requirements for my MBA and think about my intentions for this next amazing, unwritten chapter in my life, my heart is telling me it’s time to set off in a new direction.
Will I ever move back to France? I think it’s written in the stars. I’ve already managed three moves here, what’s a fourth? I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that my experience with the culture, language skills and MBA from a French university will follow me for the rest of my life and that an opportunity to return won’t be hard to find. Even if I’m mistaken, I’ll likely buy a house here one day. But in this moment, all signs are pointing towards the West.
I still have two months left in France and 100+ posts about my adventures here that I never got around to writing. ArtfullyAdored (and myself) will always have a French flair that will be hard to ignore. I don’t have all the answers of what the rest of the year will look like, but I hope you stay with me in the exciting adventures to come!
Image by Walkslee.