Today, Andy and I leave for a year in Paris. Although we had our last day of work on Tuesday and have since managed to pack a good chunk of our lives into only four suitcases, it still doesn’t feel quite real.
My feelings change from moment to moment. I go quickly from being overwhelmingly excited about this new adventure to feeling worried that I’ve forgotten to pack something, to wondering what, exactly, we are going to do with ourselves once we land in Paris. Having just gotten off the phone with Icelandair, I currently feel apprehensive about whether I’ll even get a seat on our first flight. Luckily, we don’t have much of a time constraint.
For those who don’t know and are wondering, our journey toward Paris began the weekend of our wedding last October. Although we had decided before getting married that we wanted to try living abroad at some point in life, it wasn’t until that weekend that it started to materialize.
My aunt and uncle live in a suburb of Paris called Montreuil. When they were in Minneapolis for our wedding, they told us that they were planning to take a yearlong sabbatical in Cambodia. Then, they said they were having trouble finding someone they trusted to live in their house. They had barely gotten the words out before we jumped in and volunteered. Long story short, they liked the idea, the rent worked for us, and so it began.
Having seen other employees work from abroad, we decided to bring the idea to work to see if would be possible to continue working while living in Paris. They were initially open to the idea, but after we talked to a global mobility lawyer, it became clear that France is the most difficult country when it comes to doing things like this. Wonderful people that they are, though, they ran an initial cost analysis to see what it would take. Turns out, it takes a lot. A lot more than the company could justify spending on two employees who just really want to live in Paris. So, that left us with a difficult decision.
Ultimately, we decided to apply for a visa and see what happened. After (what felt like) mountains of paperwork, a trip to the French Consulate in Chicago and way more phone calls to Cigna than anyone should ever have to make, we were issued long-stay tourist visas.
As we prepare for quite possibly the biggest change of our lives, we feel so lucky to have had overwhelming support from family, friends and co-workers. When the news broke, not one person asked what the hell we were thinking. Instead, nearly everyone told us that we had made the right choice by taking a risk to spend a year abroad. Nearly everyone said we would never regret it. And that is exactly why we chose to be absent du bureau for a year in Paris.