Staying in France for a Boy?

The title of this post is misleading, I guess, but I didn’t know what else to call it that would be pertinent.

My last post was about what brought me to France. Okay, it only sort of was, because I didn’t really answer seriously.

When people ask me what brought me to France, there’s always a gaping hole in the story I give, because there’s one factor that doesn’t enter into the equation (of me staying in France) the way I think people expect it to, and that’s having a French boyfriend.

A lot of foreigners in France have a French romantic partner, and a lot of them have come to France already with that romantic partner, and are essentially there for them. That’s great. Being in love with someone from another culture is an incredibly enriching experience (though obviously also sometimes frustrating), and if it opens you up to a new life in a new country, that sounds wonderful too.

But I didn’t actually follow J here, and I didn’t meet him right away, and I didn’t end up in France for him. The few times I’ve answered the “what brought you to France” question by including the part about the French boyfriend, I got an “oh right” response that felt, to me, like it simplified things way too much.

Here are the things I would include in the story of me + France + J, if anyone were every really interested in an in-depth answer (ha).

1) I wanted to stay in France from about midway through my second year here.

2) I never wanted to be single. I mean, I guess being single is good for you, especially when you’re young, but it was never my goal. I was always open to meeting someone while abroad, whether or not it led anywhere serious.

3) Through all of my time in France, once I felt I wanted to stay, I was busy making plans and plan Bs and plan Cs for how to stay, since it is so complicated to live in France as a single American.

4) Love happens to people while they’re busy making plans, and thank God it does, because heartbreak happens too.

5) Love can make so many things clearer—who makes you happy, where you have to live to be with that person, why other people were so clearly not the right one.

6) Sometimes, also, love arrives at just the right time. To be honest, I don’t see how I wouldn’t have had to go back to the US after my stage year if I hadn’t been able to get a vie privée titre de séjour at that point, thanks to J. I choose not to wonder about it because things worked out so miraculously well.

But I still don’t like to imply any sort of narrative that I stayed in France for J, even if, were we to break up now, I would probably consider leaving—another situation I rarely wonder about. So when I answer the “what brought you to France” question, I leave him out, albeit sometimes wistfully.


6 thoughts on “Staying in France for a Boy?

  1. Great post! You found such a great way to describe it.

    I decided I wanted to stay in France on my own, so I always found ways to do just that. I know luck played a role as well. My J and I were friends for over a year when we started dating. I had already applied to my Masters at that point, so the decision was made before that I was going to stay. That said, I probably would have thrown in the towel if it weren’t for J as I was so miserable in my program. And in any case, I definitely wouldn’t still be in France today, that’s for sure! I would have already been forced to go home.

  2. Nikki says:

    Hey Eileen!
    I just happened to stumble across your blog after doing some TAPIF research. I have to say, I could not have possibly found another blog that I could relate to this much. I think its a sign (I hope it is!). I read your story about how you started out in France and I’m so glad to see things have worked out for you. I myself have applied to the TAPIF program for the next academic year after studying abroad in France. I also have a french boy involved that I lived with all of my study abroad year (part of the reason I’d like to come back) and just for the curiosity for teaching, living in a beautiful country, and having a happy life with the one I love. The path you took to stay in France long-term is very helpful in me trying to figure out my Plan A, B and C’s. I’m already in the process of having back-up plans in case I don’t get into TAPIF (fingers-crossed). I love this post of yours, what it stands for and it totally relates back to my story as well. I probably wouldn’t be so in love with France if it wasn’t for my boyfriend who taught me so much about the culture and it seems like I could see myself living a happy life with him. But at the same time, I have always loved traveling, cultures, languages and being open to the idea of living abroad for good therefore, my boyfriend aside, I have my personal aspirations behind my desire to live in France. Getting PACSEd is in our short-term goals to ease the stress of finding myself a job/visa in France once I graduate. I can only hope to have half the luck (and of course all your hardwork) that you did with finding work at universities. It gives me hope. I probably will be around to ask more questions as I’m still planning things out, but I’m so glad you have a guide for someone like me. Thank you!

    • Hi Nikki, thanks for your lovely comment. I find it helpful to share stories since living in France is such a challenge of informal information-gathering. I had to dig for so much information, and now that I don’t need it anymore, I certainly didn’t want it to go to waste. I definitely relied on other people’s experiences at certain points in the adventure. Don’t hesitate to pop in if I can be of any help.

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