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Making It or Breaking It in the City of Light

3-10-12maureenjenkinsatleprovencalI first met Chicagoan Maureen Jenkins in 2007 when she stayed as a guest in my little “pied-à-terrre,” “Le Provençal.” She was one of those people you meet in life that in an instant you know that no matter what, they’re going to make a success of themselves. She had a big bright smile and an overabundance of enthusiasm for just about everything she was doing. The epitome of resourcefulness, she was impressive.

Her goal at the time was to find a way to move to Paris. Isn’t it everyone’s? Isn’t this the number one American dream? That’s what we hear! But few people actually ever realize their dreams, especially this one. It’s a biggie. Most people feel overwhelmed by such an idea — to pick up, make a move, change careers, make new friends, etc., etc, especially to a place where the language is different, the culture is different and everything you ever thought was one way is another way. It would make your head spin.

3-10-12CNN france-nice-beach-horizontal-galleryFrom Maureen’s CNN article3-10-12CNN local-cafe-horizontal-galleryFrom Maureen’s CNN article3-10-12EBONY Ville Franche article-small 17588From Maureen’s Ebony article3-10-12billleffwgn

It made Maureen’s spin, too, but methodically she found her route and now she’s here. Fortunately, her journalistic and writing skills have been her conduit. She began to write about her travels. One of her first articles was Travel Sense Tip: Rent an Apartment, Not a Hotel Room — a result of her stay at Le Provençal. Recently, after a fun stay on the Côte d’Azur, CNN.com published her piece, 10 ways to live it up on the French Riviera and Ooh La La! Everything You Need to Know about the South of France ran on Ebony.com. Maureen gets around and we’re all jealous, right?

A couple weeks ago Maureen and I had lunch together. Over Thai food at Madame Shawn facing the “Carreau du Temple” under renovation, she took out her steno pad and in bold large strokes made fast notes of our conversation. Her writing is bigger than life, so much so that one page can only accommodate about 25 words. Impressive.

Maureen had a whole list of questions, mostly related to what would one do if they wanted to really experience Paris (or anywhere for that matter) like a local. That was easy to answer. There are so many ways a tourist can feel less like a tourist and one of them she already knew…stay in an apartment instead of a hotel. I’d say that’s top of the list. She agreed…since of course, it was the subject of one of her first missives.

Maureen took the conversation to a new depth and now a few weeks later, CNN.com is the host for her article 7 ways to go local while traveling.

Yesterday, she dropped me an email to let me know about the article and as an aside, wrote: “One other thing, in case you happen to be at your laptop at 10 a.m. You probably remember WGN Radio, based in Chicago but heard across the United States and Canada (the same station that broadcasts as a ‘superstation’ on TV). Well, the producer of the overnight Bill Leff show saw my CNN.com Travel story on “living like a local when traveling” and invited me to be a guest this morning to talk about it. In case you want to listen online, they stream it live.

Just in time, I tuned in. She was on for quite a while, too! Later she wrote: “I was only supposed to be on there 20 minutes! The good thing is that they’re going to promo the interview on their social media channels with website links, so folks will be able to access the CNN piece and the links inside the article.” You go girl!

If you want to hear the entire interview, you can listen to the pod cast.

Maureen is really making her dream come true. She’s already a success. Too many have failed.

I’ve consulted over the years with dozens of people who want to realize the dream to live and work in France. And I’ve seen the successes and the failures. What makes one succeed and another one fail?

This is, of course, just an observation:

People who succeed in making the move (and perhaps this is true for success in most endeavors) have the following traits:

•    Self-educating, does the research, seeks professional advice
•    Resourceful
•    Risk-taking (calculated)
•    Optimistic
•    Enthusiastic
•    Energetic
•    Self-assured, confident
•    Ability to be fully present, live in the moment and without fear
•    Industrious, willing to ‘pay the dues’
•    Strategic

Are you one of those people? Do you have what it takes to make the move?

3-10-12powerofnowFirst I urge you to read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. This will eliminate your fear and move you into a very powerful state of mind…if you truly take it to heart and mind and soul.

Then, take a good look at yourself and decide if you have the personality traits to overcome the hurdles. There will be many, I can assure you. You will be dealing with a tangled bureaucracy and an indecipherable culture in a foreign language. Help! If you think that’s easy, think again.

And most importantly, do not do this alone. Seek professional advice. Dozens of people have spent just two hours with me learning how to prepare themselves for such a move. There are too many aspects of life here that the immigration attorneys and accountants can’t tell you, but I can (because I learned the hard way!).

Then, be sure to seek out the legal advisors and do it the right way. Don’t be ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ by not wanting to pay for valuable advice. Spending a bit up front will save you tons down the road in bad decisions.

Maureen Jenkins’ next article ought to be all about how she made her success in France. Let’s ask her to write it!

A la prochaine…

adrian jan 2010Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Other success stories include:

3-10-12cooperspromiseTimothy J. Smith, author and playwright whose newest book, “Cooper’s Promise,” will be read from and discussed by the author himself on Tuesday, October 16th at W.H. Smith (248 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, Métro: Concorde) at 7 p.m. For more information, visit timothyjaysmith.com and whsmith.fr/evenements.htm.

Michael Honegger, photographer, who on October 9th at Parler Paris Après Midi will be discussing “Eye Phoned Paris™”…capturing images of the City of Light by phone! Visit Parler Paris Après Midi for more information.

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