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This column was born in 1993 during the Thanksgiving dinner at the American Church in Paris. I spoke to Bob Bishop, the editor of the Paris Free Voice, and proposed creating a question-and-answer piece for foreigners in France, something along the lines of “Dear Abby.” I didn’t want anything sophisticated, I just wanted to help newcomers living in France by giving simple, understandable solutions to everyday problems, while avoiding legalese which might be confusing or overly technical.

From my experience with different cultures, changing countries requires not only learning a new culture and language but also letting go of one’s previous way of operating and losing the instinctive reflexes acquired in the native culture. Indeed, my American wife has always had a command of the French language far better than my own in English. After having spent four years in France and after having given birth here, she kept referring to the way French people do things as “completely incomprehensible.” Lots of Americans even say the French way is simply wrong, thereby implying that the normal way is the American way. 

This is how I realized how important it was to adapt to and accept the new country’s rules, weird though they may seem. Such changes in behavior and attitude do not come automatically with mastering the language or even studying the culture. Throughout these 30-plus years, I have addressed these issues: Immigration into France, Opening and running a business, Housing, Finances & Taxes, Marriage & PACS, Estate Issues & Children, Health, Driving, and Consumer Affairs.

I want my readers to know that they can readily access all the issues sent out since 2014 on my website.

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