Post hardship, family from France adjusts well to new life in Shrewsbury
By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury—Fabien Pesquet was living in his hometown of Limoges, France, in 2010, making a lengthy commute to his research and development job for Albany International when he faced a rare choice. The company’s U.S. manager asked Pesquet to transfer to their facility in Wisconsin. Employment opportunities in his field were scarce near Limoges, and Pesquet had to weigh options. He thought the offer was a great career opportunity and terrific chance for his toddler-aged son to have English emergence. But his wife, Sophie, was ambivalent.
After much discussion, Sophie agreed to put her career as nurse on hold, and try it. Fabien departed first to figure out basics for his family to get established. With help from his company’s relocation service, he said, that part was easy. His wife and son then joined him, quickly making friends with other families. Soon, they were all comfortable. Then, a big predicament struck. After eight months, Fabien got a lay-off notice—effective immediately.
Hardships mounted. Fabien’s job loss meant automatic visa cancelation with no grace period. They had already bought a car. They had signed an apartment lease. The work friends Fabien made felt horrible for them. The company didn’t realize what a difficult bind the lay-off put them in. But fortunately Fabien was able to negotiate a glimmer of relief when he was able to obtain a three-month extension to find work elsewhere.
The clock ticked as the family sweated the unknown. Fabien frantically began networking, calling former co-workers. A retiree of Albany International passed his resume to someone at the French-owned company, Saint-Gobain, in Northborough. Five grueling weeks of interviews later, the phone rang. Fabien was offered a job.
The family moved to Marlborough, where finding their niche wasn’t as easy as Wisconsin. They explored neighboring communities and decided Shrewsbury schools were best for their son. They relocated and have enjoyed living in an area they feel is convenient to everything. With work opportunities for Fabien being much greater, Sophie, decided to pursue her career here too.
She started English classes in Marlborough, and then progressed to English classes at Quinsigamond Community College specific to their health care certificate programs. With steadfast determination, she completed the phlebotomy program. Their son is enrolled in kindergarten, Sophie has found work, and the family has set new roots.
After conquering major hurdles, the couple reflected on their emigration.
“It is an extraordinary experience to have the chance to discover another way of life,” Sophie said.
For her, she added, the hardest part was leaving everything– family, friends, her house and job, for something she didn’t know much about. Fabien remembered his wife’s first impression of food shopping. She went to Walmart and didn’t find any ingredients she cooks with. She wasn’t sure how to cope, but luckily found a supermarket a few days later with a wide variety, including good cheeses the family liked.
Fabien likes that big fences don’t separate houses here, like they do in France. He finds service in restaurants to be reliable and much better here. He likes that it’s easy to switch carriers for utilities and other services without the hassle that exists in France. But the good points are mixed with worries for Fabien. In France, he didn’t have to worry about retirement or health care. There the government takes care of everyone.
Sophie said she often misses her old life which was easier in many ways. But she’s happy her son is bilingual and that the job situation worked out well.
Technology helps the family stay connected to loved ones, and air travel has brought relatives to their new home several times.
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