All Roads Lead to Paris
Saskia Reilly MPP 1999
since I first traveled to France with my family by car when I was 12,"
she said, "I dreamt of living and working in France. One summer,
we drove to Paris from Amsterdam for a long weekend over Bastille Day
with my younger brother and stayed in a little hotel near Montparnasse,
sipping hot chocolate and eating croissants as the festivities commemorating
the French Revolution filled the streets with noise and people. From that
moment, I promised myself that one day, I would move to France, find a
job, and live the life of a real Parisian."
decade later, she did just that. Fresh out of Georgetown, where she majored
in what else French, she moved to Paris with just $300 in
her pocket. Armed with writing experience she gained while interning for
Europe Magazine while in college, Reilly canvassed the city and
grabbed informational interviews at every American news outlet she could
find. Luckily, as she describes it, she landed an intern spot at Newsweeks
Paris bureau, which eventually led her to a full-time job as a writer
and associate editor for World Media Press Network, a division of the
French daily newspaper Liberation.
For many, however, moving abroad isnt always so smooth, even when you do find a job. As a foreigner trying to live in another country, the quaintness that might seem exciting during your first month of living abroad suddenly turns frustrating.
is part of the reason why Reilly, along with Lorin David Kalisky, a journalist
she met while living in Paris, decided to write Living, Studying, and
Working in France, a handbook based on their collected experiences,
which was published in November (and was written while Reilly was at the
things about daily life in France are either difficult or unfriendly,"
says Reilly, reflecting on the five years she ultimately spent as a Parisian.
"I really missed the kind of attention to customer service and convenience
that typifies daily interactions in the United States waiting in
line at the post office, dealing with utility companies, for instance."
there are everyday questions that need answers: How do I set up a French
bank account? How can I understand apartment rental listings when Im
just learning to speak the language? Whom do I call to get my electricity
"So many Americans live in France," Reilly said from her office in New York, where she currently works as an assistant to Richard Holbrooke, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "There really are some amazing resources available. The only problem is that they are either out-of-date or very specific to one population or need, providing information such as how to work as a freelance journalist abroad. There are more than 90,000 Americans who are currently living out the expatriate dream, and I wanted to help people understand that it really is possible."