Bonjour ! This is Yuko, a Japanese from Paris! More than 10 month have already passed in Paris. I was intending to write this blogpost card in the end of my stay, because life in Paris is such a « Cliché » that I would not be able to give any good advice during the beginning of my stay. Yet I don’t feel like I know everything about French culture and about being in Paris, but maybe enough to give some tips for you. These are the top5 of the necessary attitude you might have to master during your stay in Paris.
-1. Study hard? or Smoke hard? #Study environment at school
Contrarily to Finland, French people loves the status of being in the good school. The school I went for a Erasmus semester was especially a school with people from the high social level. It’s a school so called « Ecole de Commerce » which is (private) business school, like TAMK, whereas here you have to pay for tuition fees if you are a full time students. I found students here were well-dressed all the time, especially the French students. They smoke really hard at the same time. Smoking is really a way to get to know people here in France, but it seems like it’s also a way to cope with the stressful time of studies. I felt like the school is always covered by the smell of cigarette, because in between every break time, they go out to have cigarette.
During the courses, you need to study hard because the chance for taking exam is only once. If you fail, that’s the result. Basically there is no date assigned for extra exam date.
Tip 1. Study hard or there’s no second chance, smoking might help you with that.
After being in Finnish academical system for 2 years, i find French school system still traditional and very ineffective. At least throughout my experience. Especially i had the special case this semester that the administration at receiving school in Paris was renewed, that everything was in delay, and messed up. If you are happen to come to France for the exchange semester, you yourself should be seld-determined, and organised. Tip 1.2 Never expect the French school to be well organised like in Finland.
-2. Keep calm and do not organise #Things are not that organised as in Finland #Comparably slow life (Parisienne knows how to enjoy life)
Again, about organisation in this country of love and joy. You better be able to get used to how things work in France, in Paris. Everything takes two times more than in Finland. Especially, Visa and bank thing takes SO MUCH TIME. Well the Visa issues is also a matter of luck. I’ve heard someone took 2 weeks, and for me it took 3month, in the worst case 6month (You are already illegal, but just waiting for the Visa lol). Not only because there are more people living here, French administration is slow because of the inefficient paper works. Anyway people seem to enjoy their life here. As a Japanese, the biggest difference could be the attitude towards vacation. In France, they can just stop working in the middle of the task and leave for the vacation. It is impossible for Japanese to excuse the delay of task by the reason of « vacation ». In Japan it’s always « customer first ». What i see from my few working experience here, they are quite idealistic, creative, but unfortunately very ineffective to achieve those creativity. However this tends to happen in the traditional minded company or French people who doesn’t have enough international experiences.
Tip 2. As long as you are working in the French company, these can not be avoid, you have to accept the way they work and maybe don’t be upset. But if you are trying to enter international market like Japan with French attitude, this will never gonna be accepted.
-3. Enjoy « Midnight in Paris » #Fantastic night walk in Paris and about walking in Paris
Many people ask me, what is like to be in Paris? What do you like the most about Paris? I would tell, i love the night walk in Paris. Especially walking along the Seine never let me down. You can observe beautiful city lights, with the most beautiful architectures like Concorde, Orsey museums, and Eiffel Tower… It is so Parisienne thing to have wine and food, and sitting by the riverside, stay there all night long. Sometimes it smells really bad (you know why) but you just have to find a spot that is clean and with fresh air. The best part of this night walk is just that it is less crowed than day time, especially along the Seine, and the central like Marais. You will feel like you are in a totally another world with the historical buildings and mysterious light ups with some street musics sometimes.
When you are in the main streets and popular area, it is totally fine to walk around and enjoy « Midnight in Paris ». The more North of Paris you go, the less safer you feel. But anywhere and anytime you walk, you have to pay attention around your self. You never know where the pick pockets are spotting you, or it could be the speeding car that ignores the street signs.
Tip 3. It is really worth walking around Paris during the night, only when you are little bit more sober.
-4. #French way of conversation: Talk, talk, and talk, and eat, and drink
French people, they love to talk, not only talk, but discuss. They build friendship by discussing a lot of topics. At least they care about politics, social issues and love to share there life events. In general they spend hours to eat, because 90% of the time, they are talking. Unlike Japanese, where it takes time to get into the discussion because of the language barrier and all that, French can discuss no matter what ages or level of studies they have. Some people they are not confident enough to speak in English, but young people here i have a impression that they all speak good English.
I also had many International friends in Paris, this is also another way to enjoy conversation obviously, sharing each experiences in Paris, and how they see French society from their perspectives.
Tip 4. Do not hesitate to dive into the flow of French conversation. That’s almost the only way to become friends with them. Sharing French experience with international people here also help you to understand and get the intercultural competences.
-5. #Live in festive city,
Paris never lets you down in terms of it’s variety of activities and festivals that goes all year around. People here loves to go out, and be inspired by arts and culture. People here are really open minded towards different cultures. For me the French stereotypes of being racist is not real ! Well it is also because Paris is centre of everything, and people have more easy access to experience multicultural activities. But not only that, there are many association existing in Paris, that deals with Homeless issues and refugees and more. Thanks to these groups, there are many opportunities for local people and new comers to integrate through cultural activities like food, film and art festivals.
Tip 5. Participating as many activities as possible here in Paris is definitely worth it. Not only it’s fun but you learn what is like being in society that accepts/cope with « diversity ».
In my opinion, Paris is the place to enjoy life and have multicultural experiences. Since i’m at the end of my one year stay in Paris, (which includes my Erasmus exchange semester and internship period )I can tell that, I still prefer Paris to be dreamy. That means “living” here shows so much realities that you want to discover and don’t want to. So maybe it’s not necessary to build a career here as a foreigner. It depends in which area of work you want to discover, of course. However i felt that in general, France still has strong atmosphere of following hierarchies (school system, how the teachers or the boss would behave), and especially in Paris rich stays rich, and they could be quite superficial minded… It is complicated indeed to describe this, because I met so many people who is really kind from their heart, but on the other hand I got really tired “living” in Paris.
Anyhow, Paris showed me a lot of things, let me observe well how the society could work in this beautiful city ! I would love to come back here for time to time, maybe for short holiday or temporary work 😉
Bisous ! (“kisses” in French )
photo credit @dreisalz_photo