30 Days in France: Samantha's Story So Far

Going on a working holiday in a foreign land is like cracking open a treasure chest full of cool opportunities and awesome adventures. Today, we’re jumping into Samantha’s story – the very first participant in Stepabroad’s France Working Holiday program – as she looks back on her first 30 days in France.

In this fun Q&A, we’re going to find out what drove Samantha, how she got her visa, and all the neat stuff she discovered about French culture. She’ll also spill the beans on how Stepabroad had her back and share some tips for folks new to France. And you can’t miss her stories about making local buddies and stumbling upon some seriously yummy local French cuisine.

If you’re curious about working holidays, love soaking up new cultures, and are up for unforgettable experiences, come join us on Samantha’s adventure. Whether you’re thinking about a working holiday in France or just need a bit of inspiration, Samantha’s story is a must-read. So, let’s dive in and get ready to be seriously impressed!

What drew you to the France Working Holiday Program?

After finishing my pharmacy studies in Poland for 6 years, I couldn’t imagine going back to
Canada. I loved the European lifestyle, ease to travel, and exploring different countries. I was so
fortunate to travel around Europe during my time in Poland with France becoming a regular
destination. I was able to visit prominent cities like Paris and Montpellier, as well as charming
smaller towns such as Poitiers and Saumur. During this time, I fell in love with the French
lifestyle, cuisine, and culture. Also, my boyfriend is French and I wanted to be closer to him and
his family.

Check out Samantha's first 30 days through her eyes! Discovering local architecture & exploring beautiful Paris..

Were there any cultural differences that stood out to you during your initial time in France?


Faire la Bise! When you greet or leave someone you should give an air kiss on each cheek. While most of the people I’ve encountered have been friends or family of my boyfriend, I usually follow the other person’s cue. If they initiate the leaning, I will faire la bise.

Additionally, I’ve noticed that in France, dinner is served later compared to Canada, usually around 7:30 pm to 8 pm, which is a schedule I’m still adjusting to!

How did Stepabroad help you on your journey? 

Morgen helped so much throughout my process so far especially while I was stressing!  Stepabroad has many resources and guidelines for the application process, job resources, accommodations, and general tips. I had so many questions regarding my visa application, anything I was unsure about, Morgen was able to answer.  

Morgen has been so helpful during my journey, particularly when I was overwhelmed with the visa process. Stepabroad offers many resources and guidance for the entire application process, job opportunities, housing, and useful tips. I had numerous questions regarding my visa application, and Morgen was always there to provide answers to any issues I had.

How did you go about finding a job and accommodation during your first few weeks?

For the first month, I stayed in an Airbnb in Neuville-de-Poitou, a small town about 2 hours from Paris by train. I booked it about two weeks before my arrival with the intention of relocating to Paris after this first month. I began to search for a room/”colocation” closer to Paris as soon as I arrived. There’s a lot of factors that will influence how easy or hard it is to find a place.


In Paris, shared accommodations typically start at a minimum of 700 euros. Deposits are one or two months’ rent, and if you opt for an agency, they might charge you minimum 250 euros.


While searching for places, I came across many scammers demanding payment and paperwork before visiting. People are taken advantage of because you can’t visit if you’re in Canada, I think it’s absolutely worth it to find a temporary accommodation (hostel, hotel, or Airbnb) and visit the places before signing a contract or making any payment. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!


The usual documentation includes your passport or ID, the last three paychecks, and your employment contract. Additional documents may also be requested, such as the previous year’s income tax assessment “Avis d’impots”, the last month’s electricity bill, a certificate from your previous accommodation, and, if you have a guarantor, all their documents and a signed document from them. Another thing to note that some property owners may only accept documents in French, and many places do not accept guarantors.

Finding A Job:

As for finding a job, I’m still searching! I wanted to determine what area in Paris I would be living before committing to a job. There are a lot of jobs within restaurants/bars and babysitter positions looking for English speaking people all over France. I’ve also been looking in more professional settings and most positions require fluency in French.

Can you share any tips for newcomers about adjusting to France? 

1. Having a foundation in French before your arrival in France will be of great benefit. Despite being in a French immersion program, I rarely practiced speaking until I met my boyfriend. I still stumble and make mistakes, but the majority of French people will truly appreciate your efforts.


2. Etiquette holds significant importance in France. Expressions like “s’il vous plaît” (please), “merci” (thank you), and “de rien” (you’re welcome) are crucial, so be sure to remember them. When entering stores and shops, it’s customary to greet with “bonjour” (good morning) and leave with “au revoir” (goodbye).


3. If you’re invited to a home-cooked meal with French friends or family, it’s customary not to start eating until the cook takes their first bite!

Take a peek at all the amazing cuisine Samantha has indulged in since arriving in France! There's nothing like French food & wine!

Have you discovered any unusual local snacks or foods that you unexpectedly fell in love with?

There are so many delicious desserts and savoury pastries at bakeries “boulangeries” for a reasonable price, so I usually skip out on dining out for breakfast. Instead I buy something from a bakery, and it never disappoints!

Did you make local friends within the first 30 days? How did you connect with people?

Yes, currently, I’ve made connections primarily through mutual friends. Everyone I’ve met has been incredibly welcoming, and some have even extended offers to assist me in finding housing and employment. While there’s a stereotype that breaking into French social circles can be challenging, I’ve found it to be do-able. If you do have a hard time making friends, there are a ton of expat Facebook groups that arrange meetups, and you can also ask about hobby groups within these groups.

Want to Learn More?

Interested in finding out more about our France working holiday program? Reach out to one of our travel advisors via this form and we can help plan your Fremnch adventure just like Samantha!

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