A Life in Paris

Minor Miracles in Moving Abroad

June 13, 2016
Minor Miracles for Expats in Paris - Bonjour Adventure


I just bought eye makeup remover without completely stressing out or taking a million hours to decide what to buy. And this was a minor miracle in the life of this expat.

I wasn’t conscious of the miracle when it happened.

I was simply focused on my grocery shopping and hoping to make the trip in less than 30 minutes. I knew approximately where to look in the store, had my eye out for the form and blue colored label that I’m used to buying, grabbed it without reading a word of that label, stuck it in my basket and moved on.


Minor Miracles for Expats in Paris - Bonjour Adventure

This is one of the grocery store chains in Paris. Their prices may not be stellar, but their home decor section is rock solid!


When I got home…

I put it away in the bathroom without double checking that I bought the right product. I just put it in the cupboard and walked away. Just like that!

No thought or concern whatsoever.

A few minutes later I realized what miracle had just occurred.

When I first arrived in France 11 months ago, I couldn’t find any of the body care products I was familiar with in the French stores. Even brands that exist in both countries didn’t offer the exact same products.

It wasn’t just one product, it was ALL of them. Every single food or body product that I was used to using….


What sort of Q-tips do you buy? Do you have a go-to-brand? I did in the US. And when I arrived? No clue.

I used to have a favorite hair tie, shampoo, deodorant, face wash, tampon brand, etc.

Once I arrived in France, I had to start all over.

I would stare at the shelves for long long long periods of time, attempting to read the French labels that even my good, but not perfectly fluent, French struggled with. I would try to read every label, to really make a good decision about what product I was actually buying. It took time and energy, and it really stressed me out.

Sometimes I’d discover that I didn’t like the product at all, so when I had used up the first container, I’d go back for a 15-minute look-through the aisles for a brand or style of the same product that I might like better.

Sometimes I just did this as an experiment, to try out a brand that had a nice label or seemed to offer something different. In all situations it required a lot of reading, and a considerable amount of stress.

Once, I needed to buy a face serum, but I felt pressured for time because someone was going to drive me home with my groceries. In my rush, I chose one that was actually for people in their 60’s and which left teeny tiny bits of glitter on my cheeks that then got all over my phone whenever I used it.

But now…

You can therefore imagine my surprise when I realized that – for once – I didn’t think at all, I didn’t even read the label! I just grabbed the eye makeup remover that I assumed was the brand I usually buy, paid and put it away.

It really felt like a minor miracle.

The battle isn’t over yet, of course… I still have to buy French deodorant for the first time (how I had enough to last me 11 months I have NO idea), and find a new face serum that won’t leave gold dust on my phone… 😉




P.S. The photo at the top of this post is of the Alexandre III bridge (near les Invalides), and has absolutely nothing to do with buying makeup remover. It’s just a pretty photo.  😛 xo

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  • Reply Diane Wargnier June 13, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Congrats! These “little wins” really do count for a lot. 😉 Want to know a secret? I still stock up on American deodorant when I’m home and have never, ever bought a French once… in 4.5 years. I’m sure there are a bunch of lovely brands but for some reason, using my old faithful is comforting and makes me feel less far away!

    • Reply Tammy June 13, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      I LOVE this comment. Thank you, Diane. It’s nice to know someone else understands this crazy phenomenon! Sometimes I feel very silly spending 15 minutes choosing q-tips… And your secret: I’m totally into that! If I can make it until I head home this year, I might follow your lead. Though, I might run out before then! haha 😉

  • Reply Claire June 14, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    I LOVED this post! Such a funny, yet appropriate topic for expats. It’s all about the little wins in life! I am still in the “stand and stare for 15 minutes category” for most products, but have found a few brands that I like so I’m slowly, but surely making the switch. I’m with Diane though on deodorant. I brought a ton over from the US and will probably do the same when I’m stateside this summer! 🙂

    • Reply Tammy June 14, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Haha! I had no idea that this deodorant thing could possibly be similar with other expats! That’s so funny and great! LOL 😀 If you have any recommendations, I’m totally down to hear them! 😉

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