Why am I now living in France? 

Asnières-sur-Seine, France

Yesterday, I picked up my long awaited Carte de Resident from the Prefecture in Nanterre. It puts an end to having to renew my working permit every year. The Nanterre Prefecture is not a particularly exciting place to be and I'm happy not to have to return there mutiple times during the year.

Along with the acquisition of the 10 year residence permit comes the opportunity of a longer term vision for the future. For most of the years since working in France for the first time in 1995 (that's nearly 20 years ago!) I've needed to follow the ritual of renewing residence permits and working papers every year.

But as I try looking forward I'm compelled first to look backwards. What brought me to where I am now? Why am I in France?

What I can think of is that it begins at the moment in High School when I got tired of learning German and decided to take French during my senior year. And French only because of the reputation of "Madame" Donnelly for making the class fun. I was looking for something fun and I enjoyed that class that year, without thinking at all about doing anything more with French. I was terribly pragmatic in college and decided to continue German studies in order to fulfill my language requirement for graduation with the least amount of effort.

Later, after graduation from college, with a yearning for adventure, I decided to go into the Peace Corps. And as, as a result of French colonial heritage, there were far more French speaking developing countries than German speaking, my one year of French language study in High School was enough to send me to French West Africa.

Even though my mission in Africa was linked to the English speaking region of Cameroon, because Cameroon is bi-lingual, I followed the French language course required of all volunteers there. I loved the French language training as it was organized and conceived by the Peace Corps, and although I did not go on to finish my mission in Cameroon, I came away from the experience with a latent inspiration to continue pursuing French in an international context.

Back in Michigan in the early 90s I decided to further my education, learn something about the practical world of commerce, immerse myself as far as I could in the French language, and have an adventure that I had a better chance of seeing through than my experience with the Peace Corps.

So off I went to Brussels for a year and some months to do a Master's in International Business while continuing to study French in local courses offered by the French speaking Belgian community. And this time, I made it through my adventure with enough interest in living abroad to attempt to find a job in Europe. Which I did!. And that first job experience working in France in the town of Orléans led to living experiences in Paris, followed by a return to Michigan, followed by a return to Paris, four years in Stuttgart, and now another five years in France. Well, an awful lot of moving around to say the least.

So that, briefly, is how I ended up today, in France. It was not exactly a life long aspiration, but one that developed over the course of a series of experiences.

And now I have less of an excuse for remaining a vagabond. But are the patterns now too entrenched?
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