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Key Expat Lessons from ‘Emily in Paris’

Expat Lessons from Emily in Paris - Ally Wealth Management - Australian Expat Financial Planners

Emily in Paris tells the story of a young marketing professional who lands her dream job in Paris to bring an American viewpoint to a French marketing firm. With her midwestern US upbringing, it’s easy to tell right off the bat that there are going to be some interesting cultural challenges faced by the young woman as she chases her dreams in France.

While Emily in Paris highlights the wins and setbacks, as well as obstacles that are faced by an American expat relocating to the city of love, the story is not terribly dissimilar to the stories of many Australian expats seeking new opportunities across the globe. This week we explore what lessons Australian expats can take from the top-rated Netflix series, Emily in Paris.

  1. At least learn the basics of the language

On her first day of the new job, Emily arrives at the office of her new employer, Savoir, and everyone mistakenly assumes that she would know how to speak French. Unfortunately for Emily, the only word that she knows is Bonjour, which is conveyed as arrogance to her new French colleagues.

In some countries that Australian expats will relocate to, English will be one of the main spoken languages, and picking up a new language isn’t required, however where this is not the case, we would always suggest learning at least the basics of your new home language, including how to say a range of greetings, how to ask for directions, and any other basics that you feel you might need to succeed in the new country. While some countries may be more forgiving than the French in Emily’s case, we strongly feel that learning the basics of the new language will at least demonstrate a commitment to your new home, and start you off on the right foot.

  1. Understand the divide between personal and professional

Early into her new role in Paris, Emily expects to be embraced, socialise and create new friendships with her new colleagues outside of the workplace. In the series, Emily’s boss, Sylvie, has her romantic weekend plans canceled, and as a result, Emily tries to comfort her and force herself into Sylvie’s personal life. In France, as in many countries, people may compartmentalise their personal and professional lives and prefer not to blur the lines between the two.

While it’s quite common, particularly in both America and Australia, for colleagues to get a drink or two after work, and perhaps even spend weekends together, in many countries this is not the case. In France, for example, and many parts of Europe, it can be common for employees after spending many hours during the day together to want to get home to their friends and family and not discuss the workplace. It’s important to understand how this divide operates in your new home country.

  1. Bring over or import the delicacies you can’t live without

In Emily in Paris, she quickly decides to import some of the important items that she just can’t live without, including Peanut Butter, which in a country like France, famous for the quality of food, her neighbour scoffs at her.

Depending on where you’re planning to relocate to, there will often be items that either you can’t find in your new country, or if you can then they can be very expensive. With online shopping, and greater competition in many Australian expat destinations, it has certainly become easier to find many Australian delicacies abroad, you may still find that the price tag can be quite a shock. Whether you bring them over when you first travel or ask family and friends to bring them over on visits, we’d certainly suggest having a plan here. This can also be a great way to make new friends and build relationships with your new colleagues by sharing with them a ‘taste of home’ for you.

  1. Consider what work attire is deemed to be appropriate

In Emily in Paris, she quickly shows up to work in very high heels and a wide range of colours, to the point of it seeming that no colour is deemed to be too bright for Emily. At the same time, her colleagues are in far more monochromatic attire that suits their lifestyle in Paris.

It’s important to quickly learn what is considered an acceptable work attire in your new home country. This is typically based on the weather, commutes and general lifestyle in the country. In a country such as Singapore, for example, that tends to operate at a consistent 30 degrees Celsius 24/7, with 90%+ humidity, it is very rare for most employees to wear a tie or jacket, whereas in London or New York, for example, the opposite is true. Research the attire ahead of time and plan your wardrobe accordingly.

  1. Stay connected with your network back home

Whether it’s her US-based boyfriend, or other friends in the US that she’s trying to stay connected with, Emily certainly makes some attempts to keep her network alive in the US, albeit this is not the main point of the story.

We see this as critical for any expat, particularly if you’re planning to live and work back in your original home country again. International experience is not always well-valued in Australia, and in many cases can actually be seen as a negative as it shows that you’re disconnected from Australia and may not have a strong network, which may be critical to a sales or business development role for example. By keeping a strong network alive in Australia while you’re living and working abroad, you will likely find it much easier if/when you do decide to return.

There are many other aspects that we could consider from Emily in Paris in drawing helpful lessons for Australians looking to become expats and seize the international opportunity, but we will leave it at these five for now. If you have any other tips that you’d like to share, please leave a note in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

If you have any questions about your own expat journey, or if you’re currently considering international opportunities and want to discuss what you need to think about, reach out to our team at Ally Wealth Management for an obligation-free discussion.

Ally Wealth Management is the trusted ally in finance for Australians at home and across the globe. As both Australian expats and residents, the founders of Ally have a unique understanding of the common personal financial challenges faced.

Book your complimentary appointment with our team at Ally Wealth Management to discuss how we can help you to achieve your financial goals.

Ally Wealth Management Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Sentry Advice Pty Ltd ABN 77 103 642 888. Sentry Advice holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) No. 227 748.

General Advice Warning: The information contained herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal advice. You should not act on any recommendation without considering your personal needs, circumstances, and objectives. We recommend you obtain professional financial advice specific to your circumstances.

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