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Expat Stories

What I’ve Learned After Only One Week of Confinement

The first week of confinement in France is over and I've already learned so many things about myself, life, and working remotely. Do you feel the same?

We are experiencing it all – whole countries shut down, people must stay home. No more social activities, no gym, no nothing… We’re just sitting at home and waiting… For how long, nobody knows yet. If your country didn’t reach this status yet, it’s probably going to come soon. I think that we all must go through this experience earlier or later. COVID-19 is breaking us. This is the only time I’m going to mention this name, as I’m already annoyed by reading it every day and still seeing people not taking it seriously.

But well. I happen to live in France right now and here we got really serious about a week ago. Nobody is allowed to leave their apartment or house anymore without this magnificent piece of paper – the attestation – that says why we are outside and where we are heading. Oh, you forgot it at home? Dommage! Pay a fine. Apparently, that’s the only way to make people understand which kind of problem we’re facing. And still, during the first week nearly 92,000 people got a fine! Come on… seriously?

So, we’re trapped for a week now. Only one week, and I already learned more about myself, work, and life than in the last few years of my expat experience. Only one week…

Take More Time for What Makes You Happy

confinement breakfast

This is the very first thing I decided to do, now that I “finally” have time. Do you know how happy it can make you to get up early enough in the morning to have time to prepare a nice breakfast and just enjoy the start of the day before getting to work? Most of us know this satisfying cosy feeling only from their weekends, right? During the week there’s just not enough time... At least, that’s what I kept telling myself until now.

Suddenly, there are so many things you can do: cooking, baking, yoga, reading, painting, doing a puzzle, going for a short walk (but don’t forget your attestation)… I could continue this list for 5 more minutes, but I’m sure you know best what makes you happy. If you’re not sure yet, just try something new, maybe you discover a new hobby. Don’t forget to keep doing these things once the confinement is over. You have enough time during the week, you just need to take it.

Working Out Is Not That Bad

confinement workout

As mentioned before, I realized that a long fulfilling breakfast just before starting to work is boosting my motivation like crazy. I must admit, that’s maybe just because I love having nice breakfasts. Still, I didn’t make pancakes yet! I try to stick to my healthy fruit bowls so far, but can you imagine having pancakes for breakfast every day?! Yummy!

Sorry, let’s focus! Another thing I found out is that my motivation is not only boosted by a delicious healthy breakfast, but the same applies for a quick morning workout – and let’s be honest, I hate working out. Nevertheless, I must say, a 5-10 minutes workout after waking up sets energies free that I never knew I could have in the morning. And even though I’m not much into sports, 10 minutes are doable for everyone. Are you also struggling to motivate yourself? In this case, maybe you should give it a try.

Remote Working Can Be Cool

confinement remote working

Before joining Next Station I used to work as a freelancer and I didn’t really like it much. I was living in a shared flat where I only had my room and a tiny kitchen. If your living room is also your bedroom and suddenly becomes your office… well… I’m missing the words to describe this, but you can imagine it’s not easy. Not having an office to go to as well as working alone made me go crazy sometimes. I wasn’t really sure whether it was only the fact that I was sitting at home or I was sitting there alone. Now I know, it was totally the non-existing team.

Back then as a freelancer I was living with my sister, now I have a flatmate, so when it comes to my living situation there hasn’t been a crazy change. But the fact of having a team that I can talk to every time when I feel a bit lost at work is changing a lot.

Thanks to one of our founders we are now using this life-saving tool called Discord. You can create voice channels and just talk to people, gamer style ;). It’s amazing. I can only recommend it to everyone. In my eyes, talking to each other keeps the team dynamic more alive than only writing short messages. And if you need to focus, you just turn your headset off. So simple and still so helpful during this time!

There Are “Friends” And FRIENDS

confinement workout

This is probably the most important learning – even though I realize this every time I’m facing a hard situation.

We all have these “friends” where we can never tell how deep our connection actually is. A crisis like the one we are facing now, quickly makes clear what kind of relationship you have with other people. Who was the first one calling you when they’ve heard that France is starting the lockdown? Or who did you think of when you got the news? These are the people you should meet first after the confinement is over.

Most of us expats will probably not be able to go home for Easter. I’m not sure how many of you really care about this, but my family is Polish and, on top, catholic, so Easter is a super important holiday for us (or at least the older generations). Accordingly, my parents were really sad when they realized my sister and I were not coming home.

Even though for me it’s not a big deal, for them it is. So, of course, I will visit them as soon as possible. If for you it’s not Easter, it might be another event or simply the fact that you miss your family and friends at home. Who’s that person you want to see when everything’s over and you can leave your apartment or France again? Look forward to this meeting, it might help you to get through this hard time.

confinement empty cachan

I guess these are already many learnings for the first week! I wonder how the second one is going to be… And whether there's going to be a third... maybe forth one. But I’m convinced, and this is the learning that keeps me up:


With my flatmate it’s going to be super entertaining!


If the day starts by choosing a title for the chapter of your imaginary flatmates’ confinement book, the day can only be fun.

Kim about working abroad: Take your time to look for what you want My Life In Paris: Adapting to The Unknown

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