When I first moved to France, I was 22, and I wanted pretty much nothing to do with the community of Americans here.

I was going to integrate.

I was going to make friends with French people and speak perfect French.

I didn’t think I had anything in common with people who moved to France, only to seek out English-speaking groups and only hang out with other expats.

In my mind, it was one or the other.

Obviously, and fortunately, my feelings have evolved.

Of course it’s important, when you move to France, to make an effort to speak French, to chat with people in your local community, and to make friends and acquaintances by meeting your neighbors and participating in activities, and to embrace the culture and lifestyle you came here to find.

And the thing that can be difficult about the community of expats in France is that there are lots of people who are here temporarily, and who leave. And there are some people who are here not by choice, but because they followed a job or a partner, and who might not have much in common with someone who had dreamed of moving to Paris since she was a little girl.

And while it can be hard to make friends and watch them leave, it can be equally hard to isolate yourself from people who have been through the same challenges.

The truth is, we need both.

We need to create a sense of belonging in our adopted communities, by acting like we’re here forever, and by creating meaningful lives.

And one place to do that is Bloom Where You’re Planted, at the American Church in Paris on October 8.

I hope you’ll join us for this fun event, where you get to meet all of the organizations serving the English-speaking community in Paris, make friends, and connect.

Because the best way to navigate life in France is to have friends to do it with, together.