For our section “How do you live in…”, Delphine, a French expat in Rhode island, tells us about life for expats in her hosting state. Thanks Delphine!
I’ve been living in Rhode Island, the smallest of the U.S. states, since 2012. It’s so small that even Americans barely know it. Situated between Boston and New York, it’s fringed by a sandy coastline. In fact it’s nicknamed the Ocean State.
I discovered this state once I’d settled there. It’s part of New England and embraces all the charm of the region, with its cedar wood architecture, its fishing ports, its food, such as lobster, oysters and little necks, and of course, its history. The centre of Providence, the capital of Rhode Island, abounds in magnificent historical buildings such as the oldest Baptist church in the U.S., and the home of Stephen Hopkins, one of the signatories of the declaration of Independence. Other towns, such as Newport and Bristol, are equally well preserved.
Living in Rhode Island means living four seasons.
During the summer, there’s a holiday, seaside atmosphere. People slow down and enjoy life and the pleasures of the ocean. Some own kayaks, others have sailing boats.
Rhode Islanders spend their summers on the beaches, on terraces, and on neighbouring islands such as Block Island, or at Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in Massachusetts.
The holiday feeling is so strong that there’s no need to travel any further.
Newport is the most prestigious town in Rhode Island. For a long time, during the Gilded Age, this was the holiday resort for New York billionaires, who built huge mansions there. Today it’s the sailing capital: a sort of New England St-Tropez.
Autumn is a busy season, filled with typical activities of the region: apple picking, Halloween, and corn mazes. The leaves change colour and the scenery is transformed.
Winter, though, is very different. We have snowstorms and power cuts. Residents are equipped with snow blowers, shovels and 4 x 4s. Schools sometimes close. Even though I find winters too cold, life is pleasant. We can go skiing in Vermont, ice-skate, or meet Santa on the Polar Express. Houses are decorated with pretty lights and the landscape is magical under its snowy mantle: a wonderful opportunity for me to take great photos.
From a social point of view, the people are welcoming, warm, and fiercely attached to their Rhode Island identity. Surprisingly, many people decide to remain in Rhode Island, or return there. So it’s not a particularly cosmopolitan place. However, with its prestigious Ivy League Brown University, and its design school, the RSID, Providence attracts a large number of students from across the country.
Unlike Boston, Rhode Island does not have a large Francophone community, though it does have a French American school right in the centre of Providence. So many expatriate families decide to settle in the family-friendly east side of Providence, but some, like us, choose to live in Barrington, a charming, quiet, seaside town which is home to the best state schools.
Living in Rhode Island is, for my family and me, a daily pleasure. I never imagined finding such a lovely place to live. In fact I write a blog, Live from Rhode Island, (www.livefromrhodeisland.com) and I’ve also edited a guide to the South of New England which is entitled Entre Boston et New York. It’s available on https://gumroad.com/l/entrebostonetnewyork/.
Rhode Island, USA
Photo Credit ©DelphineRouleau
Translated from French by Paola Fornari