My Expat Story: Ashley Tinker
A Canadian expat in Provence
At Global Living Magazine we want to connect with our readers. We want to know what you’re all about, what you love, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. The best way to do this? Hear it straight from you!*
Ashley Tinker was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. She has always been drawn to the history, way of life and beauty of Europe and studied art in Florence, Italy. Two years ago Ashley moved to Provence with her Francophile British partner, Robin, in search of the French version of la dolce vita – which she says they found in the local markets and scenery. This is her Expat Story.
What is your favorite part of expatriate life?
My favorite part of living in Provence is by far the quality of the local produce. The landscape comes in at a close second! Here, I go to the olive mill to buy olive oil, the farmer to buy veggies and meat and the winemaker for wine. Now that I’ve gotten used to this way of life I don’t think I could trade it for anything.
What has been the hardest part?
Where do I start? Finding work where people don’t take advantage of you because you’re not from here has been quite difficult. Also, I constantly struggle with the language. I’ve been learning French since a young age but I have to work really hard at it. Not being from here makes me sometimes feel like I’m stepping on people’s toes and my confidence has taken a beating because of it. You really compromise yourself when you move away in many ways.
Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?
I’m from Montreal and have lived in Florence, London and Provence. Florence will always hold a special place in my heart because I was a young student falling in love with Europe when I was there. London is an incredible city (especially for eating) but I suppose I’ve chosen the olive groves Provence!
Where would you want to move to eventually?
I’d be happy to stay here in Les Alpilles as long as I was able to find satisfying work and a network of friends.
What’s your sense of ‘home’?
My sense of home is familiarity and routine. The little things. Knowing where to find the pesto in the supermarket can be so comforting when everything around you is new. My home is wherever my stacks of books are. I don’t think I could live anywhere without being surrounded by books.
What advice would you give to first-time expats?
My advice would be to seek out other expats as soon as possible. I didn’t do so because I originally wanted to make local friends. This backfired, as after 3 years we have very few French friends. There’s no need to be a purist – the fact that you’re living in another country is hard core enough! The assimilation will come in due time.
What has been the most helpful thing in adapting to your home abroad?
The most helpful thing in adapting to our new home is oddly the support of other expats (even just their blogs). It’s quite comforting to know that you’re not the only one on this adventure!
Share anything else about your expat life that you’d like us to hear!
After 3 years of constant struggle with employers, French paperwork, lack of funds, lack of friends and the language, we are finally starting to find a place for ourselves here in this little village. We’ve learned to accept the straddling that comes with expat life and indeed to use it to our advantage. My blog ‘Curious Provence’ (www.CuriousProvence.com) talks about this perspective as well as the best things to see and do here in Provence. I’ll soon be offering tours in the area to share with people this wonderful place and I can’t wait to start!
[Image courtesy of Ashley Tinker]
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