International Spotlight: France

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International Spotlight: France

By: Melanie Woo | Communications & Marketing Assistant, International Co-op
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 "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
– Marcel Proust, French Novelist

Bonjour! Bienvenue en France!

Capital: Paris
Currency: Euro

The old world charm that France preserves with its monumental wonders, along with the sophisticated modernity that attracts tourists from all over the world, serves as a cultural experience not to bemissed. Experience Paris and its amazing structural landmarks! Learn the art of making wine while visiting Bordeaux – home of some of the world's finest wine and exquisite chateaus! Wake up to smell the fresh baked baguettes and experience the exquisite French lifestyle. Work, travel and indulge in a culture that is so rich with heritage! 

Int'l Co-op Students' Experiences in France

"Although my official title is 'teacher' I find that I am the student being taught new lessons each and every day. Each new, incomprehensible, or even embarrassing experience has become an opportunity to grow and learn. I enjoy living with the company of two Americans, two Germans and an Argentinean in our very own international village."

Emily Williamson, Arts & Social Sciences Major
CIEP Center International D'Études Pedagogiques

"By living and working in France you have the opportunity to embrace Europe's cultural epicenter. The greatest perspective that I learned was the power to enact a life of intellectual truth and creative beauty."

James Avendano
Renault

"I strongly encourage SFU students to participate in any opportunity that allows them to live, study or work abroad. I participated in an exchange with Laval University in Quebec City and through these experiences, I learned a new language, met lots of new people and was introduced to many new cultures. I loved every minute of it. I encourage you to do the same. You won't regret it!"

Christine Hutchins, Arts & Social Sciences Major
Lyceé Professionnel Jean de Berry

Working in France

Different cultures have different work etiquettes and nuances. When immersing in your co-op work term placement, it is important to adhere to the cultural expectations. The following information is from the Canadian Intercultures website

  • Attire: The way you dress depends on your workplace. In most office jobs, wearing a suit, shirt and tie is a requirement for men. Women generally wear a suit jacket with a skirt or dress pants.
  • Workplace: The French workplace can be more formal than the North American one. There is occasionally some hesitance at first towards non-native French speakers/foreigners but this can usually be overcome once they get to know and understand how you work.
  • Hierarchy: Companies are very hierarchical. Education often wins out over everything. Strategic decision-making is done by the management committee (comprised of company departmental representatives). Managers will appreciate personal initiative in day-to-day operations; however, it is important to receive their approval. They also believe that you can bring methods of improvement to the table, as you are the person who is in the best position to understand the intricacies of your work.
  • Greetings: It is normal for colleagues of the same level to use the informal form of "you" ("tu" in French). However, if you are a new employee in a company, wait until people ask for you to address them in a more casual manner. In the beginning, address your superiors starting with "Monsieur" followed by the person's last name.
  • Conflicts: Signs of a change in attitude, such as not looking you in the eyes when greeting you or a decrease in casual conversations at coffee break or other occasions, are signs that a colleague might have been offended by you. It is recommended that you treat these problems behind closed doors to avoid getting on anyone's bad side.
  • Punctuality: French usually place a lot of importance on their image in the workplace. Therefore, they generally get to work around 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning and finish between 6:00 or 7:00 pm. The amount of time spent at work is a way to gain your superior's respect.

Past Co-op Employers from France

The following are some past Co-op employers that have hired SFU students. Check with the International Co-op office for other previous employers.

  • American Express     
  • Embassy of France
  • Centre Juno Beach
  • Gemin X Biotechnologies
  • Elastic Path Software, Inc.
  • Lafarge
  • L'Oreal
  • Renault
  • LP Leo Lagrange

Interesting Facts

  • There is no coffee on the go (can you even pronounce Starbucks in French?). Sit down and enjoy the moment – c'est la vie
  • France produces over 400 types of cheese!
  • The French will usually appreciate any effort to use their language very much. They will correct mistakes made; this is not meant as a criticism but as a compliment.
  • The metro is very reliable, and walking to any destination becomes an enjoyable part of the day as you pass historic sites and ancient buildings
  • A kiss on each cheek (two kisses) is a gesture exchanged by family, friends and new friends of friends upon greeting
  • Wine is essential everywhere and free with most meals (including lunch), but you have to pay for milk for your coffee
  • Beer is considered a luxury drink saved for special occasions
  • Public toilets are usually not free and have no toilet seat
  • The Tour de France, the most famous bicycle race in the world is an annual bicycle race of France, in which cyclists cover over 2100 miles in 23 days
  • Famous French inventions include the adding machine, hot air balloon, airship, parachute, submarine, ambulance service, photography, animation and cinema

Places of Interest

Traveling and exploring is part of the co-op experience! Here are some attractions and sights that are well-known and breathtaking. For more attractions, check out About-France and Offbeattravel.

  • Eiffel Tower
  • Disneyland
  • L'Arc de Triomphe
  • Le Louvre
  • Champs Élysées
  • Notre Dame
  • Latin Quarter
  • Montmartre
  • Georges Pompidou Center

Beyond the Article

Interested in pursuing an international co-op work term? Find out more on the International Co-op website.

Information for this article was taken from the websites below:

Á Bientôt!

Disclaimer: International Co-op does not claim to be experts on the topic above. Given the complexity of the topic and the difficulties faced when generalizing a country, we understand that you may disagree with some of the content posted.

Posted on May 01, 2012