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Dear Helen,

I am a trailing spouse and moved to Paris two years ago. I have not been able to find a job and have also been unsuccessful in making friends despite having attended some expat events. I feel isolated socially and professionally, and end up venting all my frustrations on my husband. Please help me!


by Lynn on 16 Apr 2010
Helen Thrupp

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Dear Lynn,

It is certainly a challenging situation when you are following your husband's work to a different country and he is busy in his job and has that automatic entry into a network. I'm sorry that your efforts so far have been unrewarding - that can be disheartening.

However it's important to keep on trying and to find different ways to feel affirmed both socially and professionally. This could be your chance to reassess what other jobs you would enjoy. Are there courses that you could do to retrain?

One thing I've learnt in the last few years is that it's amazing how much work you can get if you offer services people are looking for.

What could you offer that would save others time/effort? Where can you find help in your search? Organisations like the European Professional Women's Network offer networking events on a regular basis and the opportunity to meet other professionals in your city. If you don't already speak French, enrol in a class - it will improve your job prospects and you'll meet people too.

The expat life is full of comings and goings and it takes effort and patience in equal measure to get beyond the superficial and develop friendships. When you go to an expat event, always follow up: call up someone you've met there and make sure you progress the friendship. Or make a list of your interests and activities you enjoy, then google English speaking clubs, societies and what's going on in Paris. Meeting people with the same interests as yourself will give you a natural affinity with them.

Try to persevere with these new contacts - it can take time. When you have built up your list of friends and contacts you will feel more confident. Ask your husband for his support - does his workplace provide assistance for spouses? If they don't, perhaps you could start a spouses network in Paris, there will be lots of women in a similar position to you, just waiting for someone to make the first move.

If you would like to discuss any of these possibilities or need assistance with some goal setting for yourself, please get in touch with me.

Wishing you the best of luck,

by Helen Thrupp on 16 Apr 2010

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