Being an expatriate woman, Ezgi’s testimony
Hello, my name is Ezgi, today I will talk to you about what it’s like to be an expatriate woman.
I am from Istanbul in Turkey. I am a dreamer, an adventurer and a traveler. I have a blog about my travels so I guess I am a blogger to. I really love touching peoples lives and take part in social projects.
Regarding my professional life, I am an engineer. After graduating I started working in a commercial team and then moved on to Business Developer. After a couple years my company offered me a position of head of innovation project in Paris and so that’s wy I am currently in Paris.
Is it your first expatriation ?
Yes, it is my fist one. It will soon be 3 years that I came to Paris.
Why have you accepted the expatriation ?
There are several reasons, the first one is my philosophy of life “die with souvenirs”. I learned it in Tanzania during a trip there. This way of thinking helped me a lot in my personal development, and it pushed me to try expatriation.
Another reason that pushed me to expatriate was to travel and discover the cultural differences between my home country and France.
Lastly, in Turkey the job market was difficult at that time and the balance between private life and work was more complicated than in France.
So, to summarize in 5 points:
- Learn a new language
- Meet new peoples
- Find common interest groups
- Try something new and different
- Have fun doing it
What did your spouse and your family thought about your expatriation ?
At the time I left Istanbul for Paris, my boyfriend was living in Dublin in Ireland. We were already living separately so there was no problem about me moving to France. My family was happy for me even if, like most families, they would have preferred that I stay close to them.
I realized that because of the distance, I see them less but each time I see them I enjoy it more because it is so rare.
My boyfriend has now found a job in France, so things are going well.
Is there anything that could have prevented your expatriation ?
I don’t think so because during my studies, I went to Spain as part of the ERASMUS program. For me it was a first experience abroad and it gave me the taste for travel. When I came back to Turkey I told myself I wouldn’t stay in Turkey my all life.
When you are used to traveling, you are better at adapting yourself to a new environment. So it make expatriation a bit easier, as an example on my first day in Paris I directly took my bag and went to work just like if I was living there for already a couple months.
Do you think expatriation is more difficult for women than for men ?
No, for me at least it wasn’t the case. But I think it is more society than about the expatriation community. I think it is just a repercussion of the prejudices about women in our society.
The main problem is that when a woman is married and has children, people think she can’t expatriate or if she does, she won’t have the time to work and take care of her family. When you are an expatriated woman, the question is always “what is your spouse doing?”, because even if mentalities are changing, people still find weird that the woman is working while her husband is not.
From the companies perspective, it is easier to hire a men because his wife will adapt and will follow him more easily.
From a human standpoint, I think that when women receive an offer for an expatriation they think too much. They wonder if they will be up to the task and if they fail what the repercussions will be on their family. Men may think less about the « risks » and tend to accept expatriation offers more easily.
So for all theses reasons I think it is more difficult for a women to accept expatriation than for a men. But in my case, luckily, I didn’t face any of these problems.
How would you compare gender equality in France with your country of origin ?
In France the gender equality is much better than in Turkey. I think there is less discrimination in France. In Turkey when your kids are sick, you don’t feel comfortable asking for 1 or 2 days off to take care of them. Whereas in France companies are “more flexible” on this topic. For example, some of my colleagues don’t work on Wednesday afternoons to be able to take care of their child. Certainly in Turkey it’s getting better but in France it is already way better.
What advice would you give to a new expatriate woman ?
A crucial point is to present and explain what expatriation is to people before their departure so that they are not surprised. Like the different phases of the expatriation cycle of life:
Being an expatriate necessarily involves a lot of stress on a daily basis because you have more difficulties and things to think about than when you were in your home country.
I would say that expatriation is not always positive but it is normal to have some negative aspects, but they shouldn’t stop you. Nobody should be scared, this is an amazing adventure.
I think that finding groups on common interests and learning the local language are the keys to better integrate yourself.
Did you already speak French before coming to France ?
No, I was not speaking French at all. I had to do what I could with only English but now I am currently Learning French. Not speaking French is actually not that much of a problem nowadays. Most people speak English so you always find a way to communicate.
In the past French had a reputation of people that were not speaking English and so I was hard to be a foreigner in France. But the younger generations are different, they speak English very well. I remember when I first arrived I Paris, I was going to a Boulangerie and I was speaking in French to practice. But the sellers were answering me in English to make it easier for me.
Of course, you can live in Paris without speaking French but to really fit in the local life it’s important to speak French, it allows you to take more pleasure. For a short period of time it is not necessary to learn French but if you are staying for a long time like me and like in most expatriations you definitely need to lean the local language.
3 words to describe Paris :
3 most magical places in Paris:
- Petit Palais
- Le musée de Montmartre
- Shakespeare and Co (book shop)
What is your favorite French word ?
- « Dépaysé » because it represents leaving your comfort zone and it goes well with the concept of expatriation.
Your favorite quote ?
- It is not a french one but « don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits ». I think it encourages you to always do better and more, it really corresponds with my personality.
Discover the testimonies of other Absolus :
- Iwona tells us about her first experience as an expatriate woman:
- Sur tells us about her experience as an expatriate spouse and the difficulties she had to face:
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