• Joshua Dopkowski

My last week living in America

Updated: Jul 1, 2019

The beginning of an ex-pat journey for a single father

As soon as I got in my car and drove away from the office I realized that I was unemployed. Prior to that moment I had not processed reality. What happened next was a flurry of packing, partying and breakup exchanging, and just a few days after that I was in a hotel room in Chattanooga with my 6 year old daughter. It was a 10 hour drive, much of it while holding back tears, and what may have quickly turned into major sobbing.

Had I not been needing to focus on the road and pretend to be strong in front of my little one, I most certainly would have unleashed loud wailing. Within the past two months I had received a paid offer to research and pursue a PhD at one of France’s top business schools, endured a horrific and sudden break up with my girlfriend of 4 years, left my job, obtained visas in Miami, and prepared to move to the other side of the Atlantic.

A day before arriving in Chattanooga I said farewell to that job of 3 years, and an industry that I’d been in for over 10yrs. I said farewell to all my Florida friends and my comfy Florida beach community with awesome neighbors. While the day was an emotional rollercoster spent in the hot August sun driving up I-75 in the deep south, arriving in Chattanooga felt nice, and we were both surprised by the delicious meal at an Italian restaurant in Tennessee.

The next day we continued on to Detroit, traveling through Louisville, Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo before arriving in the Motor City.

I am now visiting Michigan, about to wrap up an 11 day trip that encompassed both peninsulas of Michigan, and visiting family and old friends.

I am a single father, about to embark on a journey to live in Europe for 3 -5 years while I pursue a PhD in business. Why? Because I hope that by doing so I will be able to promote progress and make the world a better place, while at the same time making a good living. Grandiose? Perhaps, but I also am way past the point of no return, so there simply is no use debating.

My articles going forward will be about this adventure as a single father expat pursuing a PhD in business, and more specifically, about the logistical and cultural differences that exist between the US and Europe. I will be living in France, so much of my writing will of course be focused on that one country, however I will include any gems I find about the other nations within the EU as well. Of course any useful tips about Wine I pickup will be published as well.

At this point I have completed several tasks leading to moving overseas, and in the near future I will provide detailed descriptions of the following expat experiences:

Obtained a visa for France, and more broadly, for the Schengen area.

Booked international flights for a reasonable cost (not easy and not always straightforward).Booked TGV train tickets (French high speed rail service).

Found a temporary residence.Setup a proper bank account and credit card so that I don’t get destroyed by international transaction fees and ripoff currency exchange rates.

Once I’m in France, I will need to:

Obtain permanent resident status.

Enter my english speaking daughter into a primary (elementary) school.Secure a long-term residence.

Open a French bank account.Figure out day care.Get the internet / Wifi.

Anything else I haven’t thought of.

Tomorrow I will leave Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula and drive 6 hours back to Detroit. On Thursday I fly to my former home of NYC, where I will visit some of my dear friends. On Sunday I fly to France. Adventure is ahead, and I hope that my published experiences will provide insight for others curious about travel, living abroad, and doing it as a single parent.

Thanks for reading, you can also follow my adventure on my instagram or check out my facebook page.


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