by Lindsey Tramuta
From newly arrived Franco-Anglo couples, adventure-seeking Francophiles, work-related transplants or optimistic students searching for excitement and romance, the Parisian expat community is rapidly growing. For students it’s easy to meet locals and other expats through the university system and events organized by Erasmus which bring together young people from diverse backgrounds. For parents, it’s not very difficult to meet other child-bearing adults – with the Anglophone mothers organization, MESSAGE; the American Women’s Group (of which I am the youngest member, and is open to non-Anglophones): the American Church and the American Cathedral; and la crèche (day care); the whole “how-do-I-make-friends-in-a-new-city” quandary becomes a great deal less complicated. But what about the rest of us? How do people who don’t fall into one of these categories meet people?
My situation is a bit complicated since I initially came to Paris as a student, then worked, then was a grad student, an intern, married a Frenchman, and now am working full time. For me, I’ve made friends along the way – either through school, internships or through my current job. But school friendships are tainted by the fact that most of the friendships I made would change once they left Paris. I knew I would be staying, but some of my friends were only set to stay a year or two. It’s a sad reality of being an expat. So instead of limiting myself to professional or academic contacts, I got onto twitter, which presented a whole new group of expats just waiting to reach out. Through social media, I’ve made a handful of new friends – some from England, some from the States – all of whom were more than willing to meet for a drink and take down the virtual barrier. It’s funny, you’d never meet a stranger off of Facebook but twitter is somehow acceptable.
As I said, I am also the youngest member of the American Women’s Group where the 20 and 30 something membership is building. The women are unbelievably gracious and enjoy meeting others of all ages. In combination with twitter, my friends from my master’s program, internships and from the organization, I have found a solid group that I feel close to. I have constructed a life in Paris that is, I must say, is as gratifying if not more so than my life from the States.
I suggest that all expats join twitter and start reaching out to the many Francophile and expat tweeters who are open to new connections. It was the best time-suck I could’ve introduced into my life.
Lindsey Tramuta is the creator of Lost In Cheeseland. She is a Paris transplant from Philadelphia, married to a Frenchman and on a permanent quest to understand the idiosyncrasies of the French. In real life, she is in charge of marketing & communications for an online multi-brand boutique. Follow Lindsey on twitter.