For the last 9 months, I’ve lived in Paris, France and coming home to Canada has really made me to appreciate my home country a lot more. As beautiful and glorious Paris really was, living there was horrifically difficult and definitely a different ball game than visiting this beautiful city. Here are my biggest frustrations:
- Administration: Everyone will tell you that administration is a mess in France, and it is filled with bureaucracy. When living in a big city like Paris, there are so many immigrants who want to live there and papers take ages to process. From my own experience of waiting months for a response, to my friends who have their papers lost multiple of times, finding a person who would want to be responsible for the case seems to almost be impossible.
- Vacations: French people take vacations seriously. Besides that all shops are closed on Sundays including grocery stores, bank operating hours are very short, and if opened on Saturdays, expect it to be closed on Mondays. I was lucky I worked at school and had flexible hours that allowed me to do most of my administration business on weekdays otherwise it would be impossible. All workers have at least 5 weeks of vacations, but most people have between 7-8 weeks. This really translates into a ‘zen’ mentality and a separation between work and holidays (which I admire) but it also means that work is done so much slower.
- Protest: Protesting and complaining are known to be national sports in France. If you don’t see a protest, you definitely did not visit France and to experience it like a local. Like I mentioned, things are done very slowly and change is very difficult in this country. Protest with thousands of people is the only way the local people can make their voices heard and to initiate change. They are the hardest people to please – never satisfied and there’s a complain for everything. So prepare yourself seeing crowds of people marching down a street or taking over a public space, very often.
As a Canadian, I’m used to things done very efficiently with great customer service. Moving to France was a big cultural shock and really showed me a complete different style of living. Although sometimes admirable with their ability to separate work-life balance, most of the time I found myself frustrated because things are out of order and out of place.
Everyone has a story.
This is mine