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Expats stories - Sarah, from USA to Lyon

Updated: Feb 2, 2019

Hello Sarah, can you tell us where you come from?

I'm originally from Kansas City but have lived in Los Angeles too.

What is the best way to prepare for moving to Lyon?

I saved up some money to get me through the initial months, and moved to Lyon in 2007. I was very lucky to have some friends from Lyon who helped me by letting me stay at their home and get settled. As for work, I began as an English teaching assistant, which allowed me to have a visa.

Why did you choose to live in Lyon?

I fell in love with Lyon long thanks to an exchange program I participated in as a teenager. I was immediately seduced by its beauty, history, culture and vibe. I also love being able to get around by foot and using public transportation, which is something that is virtually impossible where I'm from.

How to deal with culture shock in Lyon?

I think they best way to deal with culture shock is to get to know French people and ask questions. It helps to understand why people are the way they are.

How to overcome difficulties during living in Lyon?

It helps to have some expat friends to vent to and share experiences, and ask for help.

What do you plan to do in Lyon ? What are your projects at the moment?

I recently moved back to Lyon after a few years just outside of Lyon. I'm excited to be back in the City of Light, and am currently building up my business, called Take Note. I'm a French and English tutor, a music teacher, and well as a music copyist. I started also to offer French cooking lessons (www.) and I speak at the Getting Settled in Lyon workshop with Sojoourn, as I'm passionate about helping foreigners settle here!

What are your favorite things to do in Lyon? 

Walking is my favorite thing to do here. It's always beautiful, and it's is the best way to discover the city's many many hidden treasures, such as the traboules. I also enjoy having a drink on a café terrace, going to a good restaurant, going to the Auditorium to listen to the Orchestre National de Lyon play.

What is your advice for people wishing to come and live in France?

Make sure that you will have the right to get a visa and how long it will last, and how to prolong it. Know why you've decided to move and be as sure as possible. Get connected with both French locals and foreigners. Learn French very well as quickly as possible--it's very difficult to get by with only English here. As for business entrepreneurs, you need to study the market well and get help from a friends for all of the paperwork and obligations.

Is it easy to make new friends in Lyon?

I find that it is more difficult to make friends in Lyon compared to the US, but I will say that once you do make a French friend, they will really open up their life to you. It's important to be patient!

Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

I'd say I know more locals than foreigners, but my closest friends are foreigners.

Is it easy to do networking in Lyon?

I'm just getting my network going, but I don't find it that difficult.

Where is your favorite place in Lyon to hang out with friends?

Going to any café or restaurant.

Can you share with us, a memorable experience that you have in France?

When I first received my French phone number, I was quite stressed because it contained the complicated numbers 67 76. When I was just getting calls for work and had to give my number by phone, I wrote my number on a piece of paper using the full number names "soixante-sept, soixante-seize" so that I could read it correctly when giving my number.

Do you have any tricks/tips to settle more easily in a new city?

Don't hesitate to join a group like Sojoourn ( where you can ask questions to those who have already gotten settled here. Everybody is happy to help answer your questions, in person at any of the events, and also on the Facebook page.

What have you learned from living abroad and about expat life?

Stay true to yourself and continue doing the things that you love about your own culture. Learn a lot about your new culture and adopt what you love about it too!

A word or two to define Lyon!


A word or two to define Sojoourn!


More about Sarah

Sarah has always loved the French culture and language. She moved to Lyon in 2007 and was fortunate to have had some friends guide her along the way when she arrived. She is passionate about helping foreigners settle in France and teaches French, English, and music.

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