Wanda Umagapi 2017-09-15
The French Cultural Cafe: Negotiate Across All Boarders

What comes to your mind when you think of France, the Eiffel Tower, stylish girls and wine, maybe Charlie Hebdo scandals and rude Parisians?

Student's International Office organized a cultural café to challenge stereotypes and have a closer look at French culture. It should be recall that the international office had earlier organized an African cultural café to close the 2015 academic year.  As a tradition RS was at the French cultural café to cover the event and ask participant about food, fashion, studying, travelling and culture in France.

The event was attended by various international students with different cultural background willing to learn from their French counterpart. Kudos to the international office for giving this ample opportunity to show case ones culture and learn from others in a beautiful atmosphere.

Cyriaque Millot, who has experienced studying in France, England and Russia, started the event with his speech on educational system in France. It’s a complicated one, though such a structure gives students more freedom to choose his/her own path.

The cost of living in France, especially Paris is so expensive due to a rapid increase in population. Students, they said, can seek financial assistance from the government. There is also a special student card that provides students with discounts on all means of transportation. 

Alexandre Meyer, an exchange student from the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, shared his thoughts on the topic. He finds studying in Russia more difficult than in France. Students’ attitude towards learning isn’t the same, he said. ‘We die the week before the exam and having done nothing absolutely before. And nobody expects you to work before it. Here you need to work all the semester long. You are always tested. It’s harder, but the result is better.’ The main difference is the relation between academic and applied approaches. While in France students focus on theories, in Russia they tend to solve practical tasks. 

International student’s payment at the HSE dormitories is commendable. People are nice, the premises are very clean. We have everything we need to study and do sports. For us it’s like really a cheap rent. Comparing with other universities in Russia, they don’t have such cheap rent, with the available facilities, what we pay  is perfect.

Edoardo Alberti and Clement Billion, both are exchange students from France, during their presentation cleared the air about an average French man being super romantic. According to them, this is one of the misconceptions about French people who really consider themselves to be normal people like anywhere else in the world. 

Speakers called our attention to esthetic, which plays a crucial role in all areas. To avoid mistakes you need to follow advice. Always prefer something simple, small and elegant to something eccentrical and shiny. 

They intimated the audience about the employment difference in France and Russia, as far as they are concerned graduates don’t get job easily as they felt it’s obtainable in Russia. They said getting job is very competitive to an extent that your first degree will not fetch you job except masters and professional certifications. Similarly, it is not allowed to attach a salary during job placements, this can only be discussed during the interview between the employer and the employees.

They said the French has a very strong negotiation skill.  In France they said anything can be negotiated across all boarders. You can insist to have something done and your unending persistence will definitely make the difference for you but they stressed that it must not involve corruption. Students are advised to always ask what they desire even after several attempts and refusal as it will at the end sway in favor of the students.

Students were quick to ask questions about language stereotype in France and the inability of the French people to speak good English. Participants responded that average French is proud to speak their mother tongue. But it’s not the case, many French can speak English, especially young people. They are just being proud of their language. Like every other language, foreigners who plan to live long within the country must learn the French language to engage in daily and business transaction.

 Another funny stereotype is that French people are rude, which isn’t true, of course. They are very friendly people and know how to enjoy their life. Just respect their culture and they will be nice to you. 


Interestingly, there is an opposite stereotype, as well. The very first impression of Russians about many students was, ‘How cold people are!’ Then it has changed, because they understood it’s not the same culture. Russians, they said, of course a bit colder at first sight, but actually inside they are all warmer.


If you are still not packing luggage while listening to Zaz, get the last advice from one of the presenters, ‘When you meet another culture, you paradoxically understand a little bit more of yourself. So, I’m not telling you to go to France to learn something more about France, but to go to France to learn something about yourself.’

Ph: Yana Nikolaeva

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