Here’s What I Think You Should Know About Moving To France

Many of my friends have told me how wonderful they think it would be to move to France with me if I ever go back. But they second-guess when I explain how difficult it was for me moving here. America is a lot different than France in ways nobody imagines before they come here. I certainly didn’t. But culture shock affects us subtly more than anything else, and anyone considering a move to beautiful France should know a few things first.

First of all, Paris is not France, and most French citizens wish you would stop seeing it that way. They don’t represent us. They’re different. They’re different in the same way that Americans would hate to think that a tourist sees New Yorkers or Los Angeleans representative of the rest of them. Obviously, they don’t. You shouldn’t make the same mistake. Where you decide to settle down in France will determine the kind of people you’re around — just like in America.

Just like immigrants coming to America need a green card or visa, you need one to move to France. Don’t just show up there because you’ll get sent back in a hurry.

Finding work in France will be difficult unless you have a needed skill. Many of those who travel to France will find work teaching English. 

Unless there are other circumstances, it will take you five years before you can apply for citizenship.

Your credit card won’t always work, especially if it hasn’t been chipped. You’ll probably still be able to eat out.

On the plus side, Americans apparently don’t have to pay double taxes when living in France. That’s because of treaties written long ago.

French law dictates that foreign-born residents must apply for a French driver’s license within one year. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have a specific agreement with France to make it easier to obtain a French license. It comes down to what state you’re from. Californians, for example, can’t just bounce over to France and obtain a French permit. No, no, no.

Most United States drivers hate roundabouts, but they’re common in Europe. You might want to learn before you go. More importantly, you’d better have cash on hand if you’re on a toll road, because foreign credit cards will not always work. 

France is similar to the United States in that it’s difficult to rent without sufficient proof of equally sufficient income. In general, you’ll need a job that guarantees at least three times the amount of rent. Can’t make that much? Find someone who’s willing to take responsibility and sign as a “guarantor.” That might work, but not always. Lessors are always hesitant to rent out to foreigners.

These Wildfires Are Getting Crazy!

This year there were wildfires raging across the state of California. Some of them I could see from my backyard! We can probably all agree that the fires are terrible. But it’s hard not to think they have a sort of mystical, other-wordly quality when they put everything else into perspective. Even when you live in such a large city with lots of sprawl, you’re in danger from one of Mother Nature’s outbursts. 

I started reading about why they occur so often, what the consequences are if they aren’t stopped, and how we might go about preventing more of them from breaking out in the first place. What surprised me is that all the answers go way beyond global man-made climate change — although that is largely believed to be a major component as well.

Power lines are one of the contributing factors. Many of the fires have ignited because downed power lines hit a patch of dry brush. That’s why power companies were shutting down power to many households across the northern portion of the state. But that can’t be the best option, can it?

California Governor Gavin Newsom is putting together a team of energy experts to find a better way. They started at the very beginning: infrastructure needs to be updated to make power lines safer. They would order inspections in high-risk areas to find out where the lines could use repairing.

And then there were the mandatory power outages. They weren’t controversial because they occurred at all. They were controversial because the implementation was so horrible, even though some companies have been successfully doing the same thing for years and years. San Diego Gas & Electric only cut power to about 400 customers because it had already invested in more modern technologies decades ago.

Another reason wildfires are so common is because we’re so “good” at “fighting fire.” The concept of fighting fire didn’t exist at all until a forest fire enveloped a town and killed a bunch of people over a century ago. When officials implemented new fire prevention methods, they began to fine people who were using prescribed burns to control and reduce dry brush. Turns out, prescribed burns worked pretty well. Because they were made illegal, wildfires where they had been used became much more common.

In the many decades since those laws were first implemented, fires have become worse and worse. And yeah, of course part of the problem is climate change. But the bigger part of the problem is how we try to prevent them in the first place. Sometimes you need a fire to reset an area of growth and prevent a larger fire sometime later. That’s the way the Native Americans had been doing it for hundreds of years!

Porto’s Is My Favorite Place To Eat (Obviously)

Never been? You should go as soon as possible. This family owned chain of bakeries/restaurants has some of the best food I’ve ever tasted (outside of France, of course). They have locations in Burbank, Glendale, Buena Park, Downey and West Covina — but as I just learned, they will send you their products so you can bake from home. And it’s that service that has changed what (and how) I eat every single night.

The service is simple enough, and it’s too bad more restaurants and eateries don’t offer the same.

Basically, the staff will put together some of your favorite pastries into a small, medium, or large box depending on how many of each item you order, and then send the pastries to your doorstep still frozen. You remove them from the box, put them in the oven, and then feast. I’ve become particularly accustomed to using Porto’s baked goods whenever friends or family come to visit. They’re perfect for a game night.

You can order potato balls, meat pies, chicken empanadas, cheese rolls, or something sweeter like chocolate chip cookies, sprinkledoodle cookies, guava and cheese strudel, dulce de leche besito cookies, and more. All of these goods are so so so delicious.

I was so enamored with the food that I wanted to know more about how Porto’s got started. It turns out it was all because of one woman’s love for baking for family and friends — Rosa Porto, a Cuban native who eventually found her way to the United States. She learned to bake from her mother’s recipes, who had arrived in Cuba from Spain. Rosa learned to love cooking early on, especially because of the smells that normally went in and out of their kitchen.

Then the Porto family decided they wanted to flee Cuban communism. When the authorities caught on to what they were trying to do, Rosa’s father was sent to a labor camp while the women were fired from their jobs. Rosa began baking for neighbors, unwittingly gaining a reputation for great food in the process. It was that reputation, perhaps, that allowed the Porto family to finally emigrate to the United States.

After a long hard struggle that started with nothing but the shirts on their backs, Rosa opened her first bakery in Echo Park, which quickly become an unlikely success story. Today, Rosa’s children and grandchildren oversee a group of chefs, all of whom help make the bakeries one of the best places to eat in the Los Angeles area. Good for Rosa, who is currently enjoying retirement!

I Want You To Take Part In A Climate Change Protest If You Can

It’s both exciting and scary to be living on this world at this point in time! We have hundreds of obstacles ahead of us, but we also know how to avoid or overcome those obstacles if we spend our resources wisely. Since being in Los Angeles I’ve learned how to spend my own resources as wisely as I can. I’ve also learned a great deal about man-made climate change — not necessarily because I live here now, but because protests have increased in number all over the globe.

In particular, the Extinction Rebellion has conducted a number of non-violent acts of civil disobedience this year. They will continue to do so as long as politicians continue to turn a blind eye to man’s contributions to catastrophic climate change. Many British and French activists are preparing for a new round of protests.

In Los Angeles, activists shut down Sunset Boulevard in September. Similar acts of disobedience occurred all over the world. 

In Britain, the authorities are trying to gain greater power in trying to “quell” the rebellion. They have said they will arrest anyone and everyone who participates in these acts of civil disobedience, no matter the cost. The Home Office is reviewing new laws that would effectively ban those who break the law repeatedly from continuing to protest.

A man named Mr. Ephgrave said, “If we have people who are habitually protesting unlawfully, it would be helpful to have the ability of preventing them. The legislation around public order was drafted in a different era and it’s not particularly helpful because it wasn’t designed for what we’re dealing with now.”

Even though members of Parliament responded to one round of protests by finally defining climate change as a crisis that requires urgent and groundbreaking change, others are trying to shut down activists’ ability to foment that change.

That’s why I want you to get out on the streets during the next round of protests on October 7, 2019. Starting at 10 am, protesters will be taking to the streets for another round of non-violent civil disobedience across the globe. Find out where the fight is happening closest to you and get out there to make your voices heard!

If you’re one of those people who “just don’t know” about climate change, then please take some time to do some actual research instead of watching the news (which can be flooded with misinformation at times). Regardless of whether or not you’ve heard otherwise, this is a fight that we need to win immediately — we’re running out of time to save our planet.

What I’ve Noticed About Divorce In The United States

It’s hard to come to a new country without recognizing the differences in family life after you’ve been there for a while. I’m an adult who moved here from France, and most of my friends are adults who moved here from other parts of the country. But sooner or later I started to get a glimpse of home life from those few friends who were born and raised in Los Angeles, and I’ve noticed a number of differences in perceptions of divorce between the two countries.

Americans seem to have this frame of mind wherein divorce is the end of the world, regardless of the fact that researchers have long since proved otherwise. Attraction between two people might start out very romantic and affectionate, but as the years roll by the pair’s relationship will often sour. That shouldn’t be a surprise — there are fewer new experiences, and both partners know everything there is to know about one another. There’s less excitement.

Partners have two obvious options when the relationship becomes stale: they can seek to find new experiences to share to keep the romance alive (as counselors will sometimes advise partners to do), or they can divorce. The choice is ultimately up to those who were once in love, but is either option worse than the other?

Not in my mind.

Either way, you’re seeking a new experience. It’s just about whether or not you want to have it with the person you’ve been with for a while, or with someone new. What’s the big deal?

But to Americans it’s a big deal. A lot of people will call marriage “broken” in the United States because the divorce rate is so high. But in my mind it isn’t that high. Here in the U.S., the divorce rate is about 46 percent and seems to be on the decline. In France, where divorce is just a part of life, the divorce rate stands at 55 percent — and the divorce process is France is a lot more annoying than it is here.

It’s easy in America: you hire an uncontested divorce attorney if you haven’t been together long, or you hire a family law attorney if you have. There are only two types of divorce: fault or no-fault. 

In France, it’s different. There are five types of divorce: divorce by mutual consent (no judge required), divorce by mutual legal consent (i.e. with a judge), divorce on the basis of a “broken” marriage, divorce based on irrevocable damage to the conjugal bond, or fault divorce. Most divorce proceedings requiring a judicial ruling in France also require both parties to at least attempt to reconcile. It’s far more complicated for us, and we still do it more often!

France And America Aren’t So Different From One Another

I’ll be the first to admit how much culture shock I experienced when first setting foot in the United States. Flying in was a test of endurance, but I broke it up with a bit of travel — so I’ve seen more than just Los Angeles. My experiences traveling across the United States, coupled with my experiences traveling back at home, have left me with a sour taste in my mouth. Both countries have an equality problem.

I was sad to learn that there have already been over a hundred women murdered by lovers or family members — men, mostly — in France this year, and the number is quickly climbing. In a country with 67 million people, that might not seem like much, but to me it’s everything. And the numbers are even higher in the United States, especially proportionate to the 330 million people who reside here, but I’m not going to get into it.

The real issue is that the numbers are increasing slowly year by year.

I can’t help but wonder why that’s the case. Is it declining mental health? Is it the ease of finding or using a gun? Is it anger over the #MeToo movement? I don’t know.

Protesters are raging in Paris over this trend, and government officials have promised to launch a national “consultation” to address concerns, but the truth is this: not enough is being done to find out why it happens or prevent it from happening in the future. Those campaigning for office say they want to increase spending on domestic violence issues and do more to make sure abused women are sheltered from danger. But will they?

“The question is to allocate the resources to do it and we’re asking for a billion euros. A few days ago, Marlene Schiappa announced the allocation of one million euros. One million euros for a country like France is a paltry sum.”

And that’s the way it is here too. No matter how many promises politicians make, it’s never enough. They promise a particular dollar amount that will sound like a lot of money to the average citizen, but in reality it’s pennies compared to what’s available.

The United States House of Representatives reauthorized a 1994 law that helps provide aid to domestic violence victims: the Violence Against Women Act. But isn’t it true that reauthorizing a 25-year-old law isn’t nearly as good as building a new one? …A better one?

Not surprisingly, the NRA is opposed to the reauthorization legislation (and basically anything else that might help people, but that’s another matter entirely). It seems like even in 2019, we’re having a hard time learning how to be better.

A French Girl’s View Of American Sexuality (Or Lack Thereof)

For all the attention older generations give to the so-called exploding teenage sexuality in America, they still manage to get it wrong. There’s this weird perception of younger generations here in the U.S. having a “hookup culture” but most of the studies done on this supposed outburst of sexual energy have thoroughly debunked the practice. In reality kids these days are doing exactly as much (or as little) hooking up as their parents did — but they might be a lot more open about it. Which is a good thing.

This is still a huge shock to those who visit from overseas (including yours truly).

Americans are a lot colder and less open about their sexual desires than the French. It’s almost as if they think all those unrealized fantasies — you know, the ones they lie about not having — are weird or abnormal, or that they shouldn’t be having them.

A lot of you probably own dogs. Some of you probably own more than one. A few might even own two male dogs. And you know what those dogs definitely do? They cuddle. To them it’s a creature comfort, something they do because two physical beings with a strong emotional bond are supposed to express that emotional bond in a physical way. I’ve got sad news for a lot of you: humans are no different. We’re animals. And we have that need for those same creature comforts too, whether we choose to engage in them or not. 

Societal norms in any culture should not stop us from same-sex physical encounters, no matter how far they go (cuddling, making out, sex, or whatever else two people choose to do). In France, and pretty much all of Europe, it’s not weird to see two close friends with their arms around one another on the couch. No one assumes it means they aren’t attracted to the opposite sex. No one accuses them of being gay (as if there is anything wrong with that in the first place) and our citizens are emotionally healthier because of this openness. Then again, if a guy and girl have their arms around one another, we don’t necessarily assume they’re anything more than good friends. And therein lies the difference between our cultures.

In America, practically everyone thinks they’re abnormal in some way. It’s not true. The only abnormal thing is being so closed off from everyone else. 

That said, the French are known as “romantic” for a reason. We tend to keep our sex lives behind closed doors even when those sex lives are wilder, but we don’t have the same moral hangups that American have. No one will think less of anyone else for going to bed with someone after a drink or two at the bar. Sex is about fun and affection and engaging with someone on a different level. It doesn’t mean a lifelong commitment, nor should it.

The Truth About French Perception Of The United States

I’ve been living here long enough to adapt, but my first days in the United States were full of culture shock. I thought maybe I’d made the wrong decision in moving here. Who hasn’t second guessed themselves after such a big turning point in their lives, though? I’m still here, and don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon! But here are a few things I was asking my new American friends when I arrived, and most of my French friends have the same questions when they visit.

  • Dating. It’s not the game here in the United States that it is in France. You don’t look at the people you like the same way we do. There are no “rules” in France. But here? Oh my god, if you go out to a movie, you have to label it a date! If you do it more than once or twice, suddenly you have to label the relationship as more serious. You have a new boyfriend or girlfriend! I found it so ridiculous. In France you can do whatever you like without labeling it. “Dating” in France is a casual affair, and we don’t label it or constrict it like you do.
  • Dressing. I’ll follow it up with an aspect of American culture I’ve fallen in love with over time: casual dress, like always. In France you look your best almost around the clock. “Casual” might work for relationships, but it certainly doesn’t work for clothes. French standards are high; American standards are not. But that’s okay! People should be free to wear whatever they like without judgment. Buying groceries in pajama pants? It was one of the most liberating moments of my life, even though a friend had to drag me out to enjoy the experience.
  • Meals. They’re less about socializing over here, and more about needing nourishment. It’s not uncommon to see an American work through their lunch break, or bring a lunch to their desk. We don’t understand that at all! We take our time to eat and talk, and then we rest. We go back to work later, but the French world pretty much shuts down for lunch. You guys can enjoy your half-hour, but I miss my two-hour midday break.

  • Driving. Your standards are a joke to pretty much everyone else. Your driving exams are meant to be passed, even at age sixteen. When I trained to get my California license, I couldn’t believe how easy the test was — and that was in LA, where they’re supposed to be more difficult. It makes me feel more anxious on the road, knowing that there are so many sixteen-year-old kids out driving (while on their phones, of course). As if that’s normal!

History of United States and French Relationship

Mes amies, I apologize for being away for so long. It has been quite busy for me. But I hope that I will not be able to start regularly updating my blog again. For today’s post, I was hoping to talk about how long the United States and France have been friends. After all, France is my first home and the United States is my second.

The United States and France have been allies for almost 250 years! France helped the United States during the American Revolution and they have been allies ever since.

During World War 1, American soldiers came to France without much of their equipment. This was done so America could send more men on the ships. The soldiers used French weapons, airplanes, and tanks. Most of the combat troops were stationed in France.

Although France is across the Atlantic from the United States, the two countries work together to support French territories in the Pacific Ocean. French islands such as French Polynesia and New Caledonia are protected by the United States and French Navy.

France is also an ally when it comes to the United States in their War on Terror especially against Isis. French and American Troops are helping stop Isis terrorist groups in the Sahel, a region in Africa.

Franch is also in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Part of the agreement with NATO is that part of the countries gross domestic product goes towards defense. France has committed the 2% increase by 2025 and is on pace to meet all requirements of European security.

While tensions between President Trump and President Macron are quite high, to say the least, the history between these two countries runs deep. I hope that in the end, the two countries will continue to support each other. It might just take a new administration within the United States to see all that we have learned.

A Dream Cruise From Los Angeles!

I’ve loved cruising the open seas ever since I embarked on my very first ship almost ten years ago, and I’m still shocked how many people don’t realize how enjoyable they can be–or how cheap.

I’m even more surprised by the litany of excuses I often hear. Why wouldn’t you want to go on a cruise, I ask? Because I like to choose my own destinations. Because I like to see different places. Because it sounds expensive. Because I don’t like someone telling me when I have to be back from my daily excursions. Blah, blah, blah. The list goes on. None of these excuses make the least bit of sense!

There are any number of cruises and port cities from which you can plan your trip, and all of them offer unique itineraries. The options are nearly endless. You can absolutely choose your own destinations, you just can’t modify your choices once you’ve booked a cruise, because that cruise’s itinerary is set in stone. Then again, you can always switch out to a different ship with different destinations later.

I hate, hate, hate hearing about how people like to see different places. It’s a cruise. You are literally going to any number of different destinations. Not all of them are the Bahamas. You want to see Europe? Go on a Mediterranean cruise. You want to see Alaska? Go on an Alaskan cruise. You want to see Australia or New Zealand? Go do it! Cruises take you all over the place. They offer exciting excursion opportunities at each destination. You always have choices. You always see new things, many of which are once in a lifetime opportunities because you don’t have to do any excessive planning.

Expensive? Are you joking?! Staying at most two or three-star hotels in a major city for less than a week will cost way more than a seven day cruise! And that doesn’t take into consideration the fact that you’re getting free food! Sure, you have to pay for drinks. And sure, you have to be back on the ship at a set time each day. But that’s a small price to pay for such a great vacation opportunity.

The Port of Los Angeles is about to get a fully refurbished Royal Princess, which will be cruising to places like the West Coast, Alaska, Miami, and Mexico. I know I will definitely be one of the first back on that ship when it finally sails again in March.