Expat Focus on, well…me

I was surprised (and delighted!) when the website Expat Focus asked to interview me for their “Expat Experiences” section.

Not only did I get to talk about myself, but it gave me the excuse to get my friend Dani, a professional photographer and resident at 59Rivoli, to take photos of me in front of several Paris landmarks. (Actually, I say that like it’s a good thing. I don’t like talking about myself or getting my photo taken. Both were fun, nonetheless).

Contemplative Sion - This photo is just waiting for its book jacket, no?

If the explanation on this blog that I moved to France on a “romantic whim” is a bit too vague, the interview fills in a few of those holes. (Though after reading the longer version, you’ll probably still reach the same conclusion).

I used to eschew labels. Chalk it up to never quite fitting into any one category. A New Yorker who grew up in North Carolina, a mixed-race girl obliged to check the “other” box whenever she filled out official information (whoever thought “other” was a good way to classify people’s race and/or ethnicity has some explaining to do).

In short, I’ve long been accustomed to dueling identities. Nothing prepared me for the tug between these two worlds, though – France and the United States. So one label I do strongly identify with now is “expat.” There’s nothing hazy about the situation: I am a citizen of one country living her life in another.

I’m happy to share my experience of what that looks like. (What that feels like? Yes, probably the better question.) Feel free to read my story here.

23 Responses to “Expat Focus on, well…me”


  1. 1 Lisa March 3, 2010 at 2:12 am

    Loved it. I think the interview offers some hope and caveats to others. It’s nice to hear the un-coated truth! Mmm…chocolate…
    LL

  2. 3 Tanya March 3, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Loved the article as well. I’m on, and have been on a similar journey. Met and moved in with my French man after 3 weeks of dating. Now we’re planning our move to France.

    I love your blog for the insight and tips about being an expat in France.

    Thanks for sharing!
    TJT

    • 4 parisimperfect March 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Tanya! Ha! It was 3 weeks for you, too? Happens quick, huh?
      Thanks so much for your feedback and good luck with the move. Where in France are you headed?

      • 5 tanyaintransition March 4, 2010 at 4:01 am

        I think it’s something about these French men!
        We’re headed to Nice. We’ll be able to enjoy better weather — we’re currently in Toronto — as well as be closer to his parents.

      • 6 parisimperfect March 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

        Nice that you’ll be in Nice!๐Ÿ™‚ The sun will definitely help your adjustment. And yes, the lure of the French man. Pretty powerful, at least in our cases. Look forward to hearing about your move.

  3. 9 Lydia March 3, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Hello Sion
    It is lovely to see your face and read more of your story. SO romantic! Thank you for sharing it. Keep writing!
    Yours
    Lydia
    ps Totally ramdom thought : isn’t it funny how we imagine people to ‘look’ like, based on their writing? I guess we all have a need to form a picture of the person ‘speaking’ to us in our heads. The reader/writer relationship thing…

    • 10 parisimperfect March 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Lydia. It is so true. I really hesitated about putting my photo up. I *like* for people to use their imagination and somehow I knew I’m probably not what they imagine. (Heck, I don’t even picture myself when it comes to my writing voice๐Ÿ™‚ I’d be curious to know what picture you had formed in your head….Hope I didn’t break it!

      • 11 Lydia May 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm

        Hi Sion
        The picture I formed in my head was hazy and out of focus. I didn’t *see* the mixed race thing at all and I guess you are taller than I imagined. En plus, you certainly didn’t have such lovely long dark hair! Silly isn’t it, and on reflection, it is really irrelevant what someone looks like physically. Actually what is important is that I as a reader am able to form a picture of what you are like/who you are as a person – the inside landscape if you like, based on what you share on your blog and how you share it. It is that picture that I relate to.
        All the best
        Lydia

  4. 12 Claudia March 3, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    So interesting! I think I might too thin-skinned to tolertae some of what you describe–who knew? I’m also so excited to read all you’ve been doing.

    • 13 parisimperfect March 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Claudia! Yeah, it does take some resilience, which is why it’s so important to find support. But once you start settling in and hitting your groove, you realize you wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

  5. 14 Adam March 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    You have some interesting things to say, and you have been very brave. I did more or less the same thing myself – 15 years ago! Time passes quickly, but many of the things you have noted don’t change!

  6. 16 Shane March 4, 2010 at 1:40 am

    First congrats.
    Second I look forward to following your blog as one day i would love to live in Paris. Its a dream of mine. I have always figured that as wonderful as it would be that there would be some things you would just have to accept and adjust to. but my god its paris…..
    great blog.

    • 17 parisimperfect March 4, 2010 at 2:10 am

      Hi Shane. Welcome! There will always be things to adjust to with any new thing in life. But that’s what you do – accept and adjust. I realize I am very lucky to be here. As for you, I hope you realize your dream one day. If you followed my story, you know my attitude is “just do it” (though I should come up with my own slogan, and not steal Nike’s๐Ÿ™‚ ) Best of luck to you!

  7. 18 pariskarin March 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Sion! It is so good to see your lovely face and have an idea of the young woman behind the writing.๐Ÿ™‚

    I had to giggle at the prototypical romantic story. You seem like the kind of girl who might normally roll her eyes at a story like yours, but then there it is: it happened to YOU! Hahaha! That was a nice bit of the Universe playing with you, eh? What a great story!

    What you write about your challenges really speaks a lot to me, too. I’ve done things in a similar way and it is not easy.

    Thank you for your honest words about employment, and I like your point about creative solutions. I will keep them in mind as I formalize my own situation here in Paris.

    What a great interview! I really hope things take off for you, Sion. I appreciate your voice being “out there” — you have a unique perspective to share!

    Best —
    Karin
    (an alien parisienne)

    • 19 parisimperfect March 4, 2010 at 5:53 pm

      Hi Karin,

      You are so right. I would TOTALLY have rolled my eyes at a story like mine…except it happened to me! The universe has a sense of humor. Who knew I would become a cliche?

      Thank you so much the support. And I know how challenging it is to make our way here, especially regarding employment. I hope you figure it out. (And if you *do* figure it out, let me know the answer๐Ÿ™‚ )

      -Sion

  8. 20 PigletinFrance March 4, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Hey there! I really enjoyed reading your interview. You are one gutsy, brave lady to move to France like that. Well done you! Your story was so romantic, hopefully an inspiration to others.

    • 21 parisimperfect March 4, 2010 at 5:55 pm

      Thank you! Honestly, it was one of those things where I knew it was the bigger risk NOT to try. I can’t live with regrets. I knew I would rather come over here and fail than not to have seen what the adventure held in store for me. (Though I had no idea just how much of an adventure it would be!)

  9. 22 Carolyn April 12, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Hi Sion — I found your blog via about.com — I think we’re the only two listed there, so far — enjoyed the interview on the other site and look forward to reading your posts!

    Best of luck with your writing career and life in Paris.

    Cheers from Sydney (and sometimes Paris).

    • 23 parisimperfect April 12, 2010 at 11:49 am

      Hi Carolyn. Nice to “meet” you!๐Ÿ™‚ That sounds wonderful – splitting your time between Sydney and Paris! As much as I love the City of Light, I could do with more sunshine and smiles – must be great to have a healthy dose of both in Australia! Thanks so much for the encouragement. Will look forward to keeping up with you in the “blogosphere”๐Ÿ™‚


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on โ€“ no exaggerating โ€“ a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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