‘Be our guest’ is an encounter with a personality and an issue. For a few lines, the Mag belongs to them. They can make it their own. Its tone, its style and the story it tells is theirs alone.
‘I am an expat mum in New Zealand.’
When I met my husband in Paris at the age of nineteen I didn’t even know where New Zealand, his home country, was on a map!
But after eight years here, the jovial and calm kiwi spirit has begun to rub off on me, and sausage and crisp sandwiches (yes, really – eaten together between two slices of brown bread) no longer leave me speechless!
We didn’t move abroad for any professional reason, but rather because we sought a change in lifestyle. We’d struggled to find a place for ourselves in Paris, so we took advantage of my husband’s nationality to go and try something new.
We’ve lived in New Zealand for eight years now and counting! On a daily basis, I try to hold on to the best of both cultures. Our meals and family food traditions are very French but our relaxed and happy way of life definitely comes from New Zealand. The education we give our son is a mixture of both – it’s like a third culture just for us.
Although the first few years here were difficult for me, what with the cultural differences and being so far from my family, since becoming a mum my adopted country has really become my natural home. The quality of family life here is exceptional. It’s difficult not to feel privileged to be able to spend so much time together. I really feel like I can offer Charles my whole presence every day, something which has always been important to me. A typical day for us starts slowly at around 7:45. We all have breakfast together, and then at 9 o’clock I take Charles to the preschool he goes to three days a week.
School only starts here at five years old but from the age of three children can benefit from twenty hours of free childcare in government-approved centres.
We’ve chosen a Montessori structure for his education and we’re delighted with our decision.
Afterwards, I come back home. I answer my emails and check my diary. It’s important for me to have a professional life too. I’m a photographer and stylist and I’m an author in France. These jobs allow me to travel all over the world, which is really enriching. I’ve just come back from a photoshoot in the UK, for example.
New Zealand makes it very simple and easy to be an entrepreneur. To start your own business all you have to do is make a phone call to the authorities.
I pick Charles up at 3pm, we both come in and have a snack and then I finish off my work while he plays.
Elliot, my husband, gets home about 5pm. At the weekend we often go to the beach which is 45 minutes from our house, or we go and see friends.
At home, we all speak French. Elliot handles things very well! Charles is completely bilingual since he practices his English at school. Learning French came very naturally to him as he was surrounded by it at home. We regularly Skype my parents and try to go back to France every two years to see my family.
My integration in New Zealand wasn’t complicated. We moved into the town where my husband grew up, so we knew loads of his childhood friends when we arrived. I’ve also created my own network over the years, including a lovely little group of French people. In my town there are lots of clubs to join around your interests and hobbies, so that helps to forge friendships, and I’ve also met lots of people through Instagram!
I still really miss France. Especially the history, the culture and the architecture. Even if we talk about going back there one day, for the moment we’re making the most of everything this beautiful country has to offer – apart from the sausage and chip sandwiches!