Last week, Milsters from Little Pieces of Light was a worthy winner in our Expat Star Awards. Our judging panel were fascinated by her blog which mixes food, art, music, books and the ‘good life’ or ‘la belle vie’ in Paris. We caught up with Milsters to delve deeper into her blog, what inspired her & some top tips on managing the expat transition process. It’s a corker:
How does it feel to be a winner in the expat star awards?
It’s always a positive feeling when people show appreciation for your blog, so I always feel grateful for such things.
What is Little Pieces of Light?
Little Pieces of Light is my blog / creative space where I chronicle my musings on food, art, music, books, and la belle vie in Paris, whilst providing travel trips and glimpses of life in Buenos Aires and Vancouver, which I also call home.
What was the inspiration for launching Little Pieces of Light?
I started Little Pieces of Light over a year ago as a simple way to record the small joys and beauty of life around me. It had as its anchor a series called Eiffel Tower Tuesdays, for which I snapped a photo of the Iron Lady once a week on my way to the office, as a reminder that my route to work actually included this incredible monument in this amazing city.
Tell us a little bit more about Milsters?
I am a Canadian with Spanish, Filipina, and Chinese heritage who has lived in 13 countries on 4 continents – partly due to my parents’ professions, partly due to my inner global nomad. I grew up mainly in the deserts of Saudi Arabia where I spent 7 years of my childhood, but have also lived in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, the USA (mainly New York), and Canada. I moved to Paris from London in 2010, but personal and professional projects mean that I often split my time during the year between Buenos Aires, Vancouver, and the City of Lights. For those who are curious, Milsters is not my real name; it’s a pseudonym that I use as I still try to maintain a degree of privacy despite having an online footprint.
If you could only give one piece of advice for a new expat, what would it be?
My absolute biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to make a home in a foreign country, even if it is only for a few years, is to Learn the Language! (With capital letters for emphasis!) It will make such a huge difference – not only in terms of being able to navigate your day-to-day life, but also in terms of the opportunities that it affords you both from personal and professional aspects. I started from a very limited basis of French when I arrived in Paris, and made a huge effort to learn it throughout the last 3 years. It is certainly a challenge: time-consuming, energy-draining, and at times, even embarrassing. But in the end, it has made my life easier and my experience in Paris much more fulfilling.
If you could only give one piece of advice for someone repatriating back home, what would it be?
Hmmm. I’m not sure as I don’t know if I have ever really “repatriated back home”! I suppose if I were ever to go “back” to Canada (where alas I have spent only a few years), I would try to bring the best of my experiences abroad back home, and make an effort to re-integrate the best of what Canada can offer back into my life. I suspect that sometimes repatriation to a country you’ve lived outside of for a long time can be as unsettling an experience as moving to a new place altogether.
What can we expect to see over the next 12 months on the blog?
I always like to keep things a surprise until the very day they happen, but you might very well see Little Pieces of Light make a new home elsewhere for a new project! I still plan to maintain my apartment in the Marais and my life in France, and try to live here part-time during the year, but I might have a new home to add to the Paris / Buenos Aires / Vancouver configuration. And who said you can’t have four homes? Life can be whatever you make of it – that’s what’s so wonderful about it.
What are you most proud of since launching the blog?
Since launching the blog, I’ve been able to reach out to and make friends with some of the most wonderful people – not only in Paris but elsewhere as well. This blog has been an incredible means of connecting to others and I’ve been able to build a community in a city where I knew very few people at the outset. I think this is the part that makes me proudest about the blog as I know from experience how challenging it can be to build a community in a new country!
Biggest challenge growing traffic to your blog?
My blog is one of my creative side projects, and what makes me happiest about it is the ability to express myself either through my writing or my photographs, as well as to share my experiences with others. Whilst getting more traffic is a wonderful thing, I would rather focus on the creative and communal aspects of this website rather than readership numbers, so I’m afraid I don’t have much to share on the challenges in this regard!
How do you transfer money abroad? Bank or Broker?
I use my banks. I would definitely recommend getting a multi-currency account within whatever bank you use if you’re an expat. I’m afraid I’ve never really used brokers before, but would definitely be interested in learning more about these services if they can save me money (and/or time!).
Milsters Mac on Google +
image courtesy of Milsters Mac – Little Pieces Of Light.