Today’s Expat Spotlight interview is Paula Palmrose, a Korean American working in Paris’ fashion industry.
- Name: Paula Palmrose
- Occupation: Technical Fashion Designer
- Current Location: Paris/Montreuil
- Originally From: USA
- Expat Locations: Netherlands, Germany, France
How did you become an expat, and why?
After I finished college I was at a cross roads where I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my adult life. I didn’t want to start working or go to grad school so I decided to take the year off to travel Europe. 14 years later I’m still here! I spent my first year as an Au Pair in Paris but moved to Bordeaux the following year because I found it hard to meet people in the French capital. I later returned to Paris to go to fashion school. Today I feel very Parisian, but still very American at the same time.
Where else have you been an expat?
The first summer in Europe I lived in Leiden, the Netherlands. My second summer in Europe was spent in Berlin. I have only really lived as an expat in France but I have traveled to every country in Europe and spent time in India and China for my work.
Best piece of expat advice you’ve received?
Get ASSIMIL!!! It’s the easiest language method ever! I swear I learned French that way.
Best piece of expat advice you’d give?
Avoid other expats! (haha) No really, if you really want to learn the language and hang out with the locals it’s a great idea to start living in a smaller town rather than a large city. In smaller towns people will be more curious about you and more patient with your language skills. The first year I lived in Paris my French was terrible, but after moving to Bordeaux I became fluent within 4 months
Favorite expat related web sites?
This is not very original, but the American Embassy in Paris has a great website for Americans abroad in France. I am getting married to a Frenchman soon and the site has been very helpful in understanding all the red tape.
Are you planning or dreaming of a move? Are you going home instead? Where to and why?
15 years ago I never thought I’d be speaking French and living in France. In 15 years I hope to be saying the same thing about somewhere else!
Tell us more about what you do in your location?
I work in the center of Paris (2eme) as a Tech Designer for an a great up in comping brand www.manoush.com. I live in neighboring Montreuil which is a funky multi-ethnic suburb that we like to compare to Brooklyn. There is a great sense of community where I live with lots of local clubs and associations. On the weekends we try to get away from the city when possible to either Normandy or the South of France
Would you recommend your current location to other expats? Does it rock or does it suck?
Paris is a city that can be kind of isolating if you don’t know anyone. However, if you know a couple of people it’s easy to meet tons more. If you really want to learn the language, start by living in a smaller town.
What is the expat community like where you are?
As Paris is a large city there are many well established expat communities. I don’t go to “American” bars here, but I keep in touch by being a member of Democrats abroad who do a great job in keeping American expats informed. My mom is Korean so when I get a craving for Kim Chi I go eat on the rue Sainte-Anne where there are tons of great (and authentic) Korean and Japanese restaurants.
Thank you, Paula for participating in our Expat Spotlight! We wish you success and happiness in your current location, and wherever your dreams and business endeavors take you.