Things I have learnt since moving to Paris
Charlotte is studying French at Royal Holloway and is spending her year abroad as a British Council Language Assistant in Paris, France. Here's what she has learned about Paris since moving there from the UK...
1. The customer service in Paris isn’t that great
The customer service in France (particularly in Paris) is very different from that in England. I feel it's much better in England as workers are much more commercial and will help you find what you need. For instance, when your size is not available on display in England the shop assistants are much more likely to go in the stock room and check for you whereas in Paris on numerous occasions when I asked for the same service the answers from most shop assistants said 'no' without even making an effort to check.
2. How to say no
While working in Paris there have been many times that I have been asked to do things I either didn’t really want to do or didn’t need to do. At the beginning I accepted many things but eventually I realised that I needed to learn how to say no.
With regards to the work place, remember to be clear with your working conditions before starting a job or employers may try to exploit you so you need to be able to say no. For example, in the primary school that I work at, at the beginning I was told that I should plan lessons for classes; however I quickly reminded them of the fact that in my contract I am only meant to assist the teacher. Be sure to stand up for yourself and to say no when necessary.
3. The pastries in England cannot compare to those from the French boulangeries.
I used to be content with the pastries in French supermarkets as they were much better than those in the UK. However the bakery beats everything! Make sure you try out some different pastries as you will not be disappointed and the prices are much lower than in the UK so you are sure not to break the bank. Here are a few of my favourite things from the bakery: pain au chocolat, religieuse au chocolat, galettes des rois and gâteau basque.
4. Crossing the road is a very dangerous activity
We are told as young children to cross the road only when the green man appeared and, as we get older, we can cross whenever there are no cars. However, in Paris the rules are not the same. Always check when crossing even when there is a green man as cars do not stop!
5. The rumours about the French administration are true
France is known for its administration problems and since I've been living here I can confirm that France is living up to its reputation! You will be asked to sign many forms, so be prepared! These will usually be paper forms that will eventually be transferred to a computer so anything you do fill in will take a while to be made official. However, on a positive note, it will teach you to be patient.