Every American's dream is to find themselves in Paris, just as every French person dreams of New York or Los Angeles... but any American knows that once in those dream cities, work is hard to come by, rent is bank breaking and you end up living off of old pizza and ramen noodles while wondering why you even moved there.
I am not a fan of ramen noodles, during my third year of university I hid a slump when the government wouldn't give me food stamps during my studies and I only had enough to buy what felt like a life supply of ramen. I would frequent the pub next door on Tuesday nights in order to bum some beer off those who bought the 4 dollar Millers, and cue in Brian. The French man. Things led to other things and then we ended up being inseparable.
This French man eventually convinced me to come to his home town, Lyon, and I figured it could only further my career.
The True French-French
Unlike Paris, Lyon has kept a truly French-French lifestyle. This means that rarely do we hear English in the street, most words and conversations exchanged are in French and restaurants have stuck to their typical menus with no translations. Life has remained the same, no ultra stress, relaxed time... five weeks vacations are taken and the city is DEAD in August. It's a large, quiet city... and the rent is about half the cost than in Paris.
All Americans coming to Lyon for studies often come for language studies, international studies or simply to learn French... I am a business management student so I decided that I could be special here. I was. When I applied in 2011 for my Masters, the woman was ecstatic and detailed all her plans for me in the program. Every business person I meet is in shock to meet a young professional American who can actually speak French and understands the Lyon people. Even for French people Lyon tends to be coincé and difficult to penetrate- I've never had a problem.
Of course, like most stories, mine involves love. While career was always first, it helps having my partner in crime and his family in Lyon. The weekends at his parent's home sipping on chilled rosé and charcuterie, the picnics among my Lyonnais friends, my French students who only want to learn to speak American English... even my co workers at the company that are all European.
The marchés, the bouchons, the sight seeing, the lack of international influence, the simplicity, the quietness, no little cheap plastic eiffel towers, no slews of tourists pattering around... why not Lyon?
Great Launch City into France
While Paris is a dream, Lyon tends to be the city that is a fabulous introduction to French life. Once you get the strolls to the boulangerie, the basic French and start making friends, then it could be a possible time to move. It's thanks to this city that I learned a considerably high level of French, how to communicate and even how to figure out the Métro system. Now that I've moved, it as if I'm simply strolling into a larger Lyon... but everything I've learned continues to help me.