Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
As an American, something that may take getting used to is the fluid French sense of time. Americans are sharp and quite rigid when it comes to time - for instance if a meeting is to start at 9AM - you should be there five minutes before. A dinner party that is announced for 8PM - Americans try to arrive as close to 8PM as possible.
I have spent a lot of time waiting by myself when applying my American standards to French meetings and dinner parties. Once, I arrived first (of course) and was greeted by a "Of course the American arrives at 10AM on the dot! We knew it was you!"
It is hard for me to distinguish between arriving "on time" and "late". I keep extra reading materials with me and prepare to wait, if needed.
As an intern once, I used to wait a good twenty minutes by myself for a weekly office-wide meeting to start. Not wanting to be late - I arrived "on time" but the cultural gap was highly obvious as I sat in the conference room alone, a lot.
Polly Platt sums this up well in her bestseller "French or Foe".
Know your audience, for a dinner party arrive 15 minutes late (otherwise your hosts may not have finished dressing); for business meetings be on time and bring reading materials in case you have to wait.
Having done some recent research, I stumbled upon some guides about finding work in France. The number one ingredient to success in looking for a job in France (besides luck) is perseverance.
Most online or paper resources tell you that you need to offer something to the French market - you certainly need to speak French but also KNOW France and French culture and have a special skill. This is a highly demanded market so you need that thing that makes you stand out. And luck.
The site WorkinFrance.com talks a lot about new laws opening France/EU to non-nationals in an attempt at a new brain drain. They say that it is easier right now than it was a few years ago.
Know yourself, know the market, know the culture, and persevere.
Living and Working in France by David Hampshire