Déployez vos ailes et n’ayez pas peur de voler!

What do you do when you are asked to fly to Paris with a week’s notice? You say yes is what you do! Once in a lifetime opportunities do not come around everyday, hence the name. How did I get to this stage though? Let me set the scene…

I have always been the type of person who’s willing to just try something new. I worked at a USA summer camp in 2009, flying out alone to see what happened. In 2013, I decided I would move from Lancashire, my home for 23 years, and make the switch to Bournemouth for University. Nothing really worries me, “it will all work out in the end” is my attitude. Crucially though, I spoke the language on both those adventures, and I had a little bit of time to prepare. The move to Paris however was very different.

My University course was four years long, the third of which was to be a placement year. After much deliberation, I applied and was accepted late in the process to work for a sports crowdfunding platform. They had offices in London, Paris and Miami. I was interviewed and told I would be working in the London office. However, in my final meeting two weeks before my move, I was told otherwise.

The management structure had changed (something that would be a running theme at the company) and I was now about to have a conversation with my new team manager. We had a long chat for an hour and at the end of the call, he said he couldn’t wait to meet me in person when I arrived at the office the following week. When I confirmed my excitement, he asked the question which threw me into a panic, he asked me where I would be living while in Paris.

He could immediately tell something was wrong. He asked if I had been informed of the move, to which I told a half truth. I told him I was told I would be working from the office, however I did not confirm which one. So that was it, Paris with six and a half days notice. I found accommodation thanks to a certain booking app that saw me borrowing a different house every month for six months. On the 21st of September, I set off alone again on my next adventure.

I arrived in Paris around 6pm, but my suitcase did not. My suits, games console, everything except for my small backpack was still on the ground in Bournemouth. A setback? Yes, but in one of the fashion capitals of the world, no problem right?! Well…

I turned up for my first day in patterned jeans, a deep V neck t-shirt and what I can only describe as ‘smart moccasins’. My manager, now an entirely different person to who I had spoken to only last week, looked me up and down and laughed. The tension was gone, and for the next six months I felt right at home. We immediately went out for drinks and food that morning and I was given escargot (snails), cuisses de grenouilles (frog’s legs) and pieds de porc (pig’s feet) along with wine and Champagne. I quickly forgot my embarrassment.

To say my life then became a whirlwind is an understatement. We got back to the office, later that morning, ‘ready’ to work. I was shown to my desk, and once I had sat down, I was greeted straight away by Sylvain Marconnet, yes the French international rugby star. Then it became a game to spot the French sports star as everyone from superstar pole vaulter, Renaud Lavillenie to tennis ace, Marion Bartoli came through our doors.

For me, an enormous sports fan, it was heaven. I met people from all manners of sport Olympics, World Champions and Superstars. I even helped on the bid for Paris 2024. Je Rêve de Jeux or I dream of games was the slogan, and the Olympics were on their way back to Paris.

I said yes to the opportunities that presented themselves. Was I scared? To move to a new country completely alone? To a place I did not speak the language and a country I had only ever seen in pictures? Absolutely. Was it one of the most important decisions of my life? Yes, it absolutely was and it was worth every second.

Life is about those moments, those once in a lifetime chances to change your life.

Seize the Day!
Carpe Diem!
Profiter du Présent!

Spread your wings and do not be afraid to fly!

Thomas Clapham
Content Editor