What Are The Challenges Of Moving Of Living Abroad?

Recently I landed on Annie Andre’s blog, which she created around the theme of living abroad.   I was really interested in checking her out because she chose to live abroad in France. And as some of you know, I chose to move abroad in the US from France.

Annie and her family have decided to live in Marseille, France, and on one of her most recent posts she mentioned a bunch of traveling blogs which are part of a challenge.  If you like traveling, adventures, and read about it, I suggest that you check them all out.

But before you do, however, let me tell you about my moving abroad and some of the things I’ve learned from it.  Thanks to Annie I came up with this idea for this post, and she accepted my invitation for an interview about her moving abroad story.  So, make sure you stay tuned as I plan to have this interview with Annie on my next post next Friday!

Moving Abroad Opens Your Eyes

When you move abroad the best thing that happens is that it opens your eyes to other cultures, languages, customs, and ways of life.  While living in the United States for over 15 years now,  I’ve learned a lot about not only the American culture, which I didn’t know back then, but also, the South American culture, especially Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Russian and Greek cultures.

What Brought Me Aboard?

I was born in Lyon and grew up in a small village right outside of it.  When I was 21 I moved to Paris where I lived for 5 years.  I moved to Paris for the purpose of my occupation back then, the theater.  Very few people who know me today know this , but I have been in several plays in Lyon and Paris.  I did one commercial and I had a part as a cameo in two movies.  While doing this, I had the pleasure and privilege to work with few famous French actors from both the movie and theater worlds. I worked closely with Michel Galabru and Bernadette Lafont and I met big movie stars such as Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve among others.

So, the theater is what brought me to the United States in the mid 1990’s to try my acting in the Big Apple.  And also I was fed up with France back then.  In New York I belonged to what is called an Off Off Broadway theater (no, it’s not a typo) which specialized in French plays in French version.  There I worked with Marcel Luidgi a French-American bilingual director from whom I learned a lot.  Later on I belonged to a small company theater working in New Jersey where I had my first big role in the English language in Barefoot in the Park.  My partner playing my husband was a Jewish actor from Brooklyn, NY.  Now,  when could I have done that if I’d stay in France?

While this was all fun and wonderful, it didn’t last.  However, what did last were my adventures in the United States.

The Challenges of Living Abroad

The one think anyone who has moved abroad had to face in one way or another is becoming legal in the country they moved or are moving to.  I came to the US with a student visa and when that expired I had to find a way to get that famous “green card” which is not green anymore for at least 25 years, but the name stuck.

There are basically only two ways to become a legal alien resident in the US.  One is being sponsored by an employer, and the other is getting married to an American citizen.  In my case, it was a little bit of both, I was engaged to someone who was sponsored by his boss, and thus I was allowed to apply with my soon to be husband.

That’s how I became a legal permanent resident of the United States.  What you need to know about being a permanent resident is that you can’t live outside of the US for more than 6 months at a time or you will lose your green card.  A green card is a privilege, not a right.  So, the next best thing to do once you have a green card is make sure you don’t get lost too long back home.

From Legal Resident to Citizen

After 5 years as an alien resident you can apply for citizenship.  In order to apply for citizenship you can either hire a lawyer, or do it on your own.  It’s really easy to do.  You will have to fill out some paper work answering very specific questions and learn some basic American history facts.  There are 120 questions that you need to learn the answers to.  Don’t worry if you forget them later on, most American citizens don’t know the answer to all those questions either.  At the citizenship exam you will be asked only 3 to 5 of those questions, the only problem is you don’t know which ones in advance.

So, basically to be able to become a United State Citizen you need to:

  • Be a permanent resident for five years
  • Be able to speak English
  • Learn the answers of the 120 US history and facts questions
  • Fill out all the paper work
  • Pay for the fee which is now around $300 without a lawyer (If you hire a lawyer for the job, you need to add $500-$1000 dollars for legal fees) depending on the lawyer.

Luckily, when I did my own paper work for my citizenship application I was working for an immigration law firm, so I did my own legal work and handed the papers for my boss to sign.  He gave me his signature for free.

Will You Lose Your Citizenship of Origin?

When you become an American citizen, depending on the country that you come from you might lose your citizenship of origin.  In my case, I have now dual citizenship and carry my two passports when I travel to Europe.  The reason being that it is not to my advantage at all to show my American passport in France.  Having a dual citizenship is very practical and I love it.

The reason why I never lost my French citizenship is that France doesn’t care what you’ve become.  If you are born in France, you are French forever in the eyes of the law.  Which in my book it’s a very good thing, because as much as I wanted to live here,  I never wanted to lose my citizenship of origin.  No matter what I do, it’s still and always will be part of me.  Have you ever heard the saying “you can take the man out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the man”? I can assure  you that it’s very true.

So, what about you? Have you ever lived abroad? Would you like to do it? Would you just want to know what it’s like while you’re staying at home? If so, stay tuned for next week’s post and found out what it’s like for buddy blogger Annie Andre to live abroad in France.  In the meantime, let us know what you think of this in the comment area.


14 thoughts on “What Are The Challenges Of Moving Of Living Abroad?”

  1. How exciting, I didn’t know you were in the theater! Quite a jump from Broadway to blogger 🙂 Sounds like you’ve had some great adventures. Interesting timing of this post, because I just recently read that a bunch of US citizens living abroad are giving up their citizenship because of what a pain it is to pay US taxes and all the legal hoops. (Tax season, I guess!)

    I bet you know more than a lot of Americans about American history, considering you took a test and passed!

    This was a really fun post, I’m glad you gave us a peek into the things you’ve done. Great photo, too 🙂
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    1. Hi Carol,

      Ahaha, you’ve got that right some people go up and some come down 🙂 Well, so to speak, I don’t want to insult any blogger or minimize what I am doing now 🙂

      Acting was one of the best thing I ever done in my life, but as I was saying in reply to Adrienne, unless you really made it in this business it’s tough. I missed the theater for a long time, but I am completely over it now 🙂

      Gosh I didn’t know that “Uncle Sam” was trying to get money out of those who are not even living in the US. But, I’m not surprise, everything is about money in the US 🙂 Thankfully I do not pay taxes to the French government.

      Thanks for coming dear 🙂

  2. Oh, Sylviane was an actress. How interesting, I learned something new about you. Why did that not last? Was it hard to get acting jobs? I have no doubt that you were good.

    I loved learning that about you and I’m so thrilled that Annie inspired you to write this post. You’re sharing more about you with us and since you did come from France it’s a great way to see a different spin on things.

    I’ll look forward to reading your post next week.

    Thanks for sharing all this scoop Sylviane..

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    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Ahaha, yes I used to be an actress. It’s not something I really ever talk about anymore because it was a long time ago. I loved it though, it was my passion. I didn’t like movie sets though, but I love the thrill of the theater. The butter flies in the stomach before the curtain goes up, the fun of acting during the play and the pure bliss of the salute under the applause. I missed it for years.

      I stopped, because unless you made it in this business, you constantly have to go from one audition to the other, then you get a part here and there and it’s audition time again. And I hated auditions! Acting is a tough job that way, and you get worn out.

      But I will always cherish the memories that I have while doing three lead roles and other secondary role in the theater. It was the best days in my life.

    1. Hi Nicky,

      Thanks for coming by my place. I know that you are in the UK and at least if you ever decided to come to the US you wouldn’t have to learn the language 😉 just may be a bit shocked about how English is spoken here sometimes 🙂

    1. Hi Tony,

      Thanks for coming. Really appreciate that 🙂

      I had to drop WA after months of reflections. Not really profitable for me, time consuming, not enough interest in my input anymore because of the fact that I am more about blogging than affiliate marketing now, and limited time. So, it was not a decision made in just a couple of days, but more like a year 🙂

      I have 3 blogs which I am actually going to start linking one to the other now, so It will be easier to find me in any of the three places.

      Hope you come visit me regularly 🙂 I will too 🙂

  3. Sylviane,
    Thank you for the mention.
    I loved hearing about your story of how you came to live in the US. I am so impressed with your theatrical background too. You really did rub elbows with some very french players.
    I have often wondered if i were to ever apply for French citizenship what would happen?

    ps, check your emil dear.. the questions were sent and re-sent but kept getting bounced. xoxooxxo
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    1. Hi Annie,

      Thanks for your feedback. It was a pleasure to mention your blog here, I’m sure it will happen again 🙂

      Definitely, if it bounced that means I didn’t get it. I just sent you another email with another email address. I don’t understand what happened, I ‘ve got all you other emails. Computers have a mind of their own sometimes.

  4. Hello there,

    That’s one of the beauties of life. The only thing that ties people up to where they were born is their mind. I wanted to learn foreign languages and move abroad, and I did. I see that you did too and that’s really great as long as you’re happy!

    Thank you for coming by 🙂

    1. Hi Sue,

      Thank your for coming see that post that I mentioned to answer your question. Yes, I love my dual citizenship. I show my American passport on American territory, and I show he French one on French territory. As far as the French are concerned I’m not even American, anyway. Once you’re born in France as a French citizen, they absolutely disregard what you might become. So, that works for me 🙂

  5. Hi Sylviane,

    I love your story of how you came to live in the US. I’m from Asia and have just applied for my green card. My husband got his green card last year and moved to the U.S. Just me staying alone at home, still working and try to learn new language. It seems a little bit hard for me when think of how i can live in another country without my family members and friends. I know living abroad is really a big challenge of my life, differences in many things, especially in language and custom. But I have no choice.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.


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