An year spent in France, and a rich taste of the French distaste for persons who don't speak royal French. It becomes worse if the poor person happens to be linguistically challenged in the french language and at the same time boasts of being an English speaker.
My worst experiences being unwelcome as an English speaker here have occured at the offices of the Government. The rude look, the stern voice, the unwelcome demeanour, doesn't call for me to know good French to understand...after all, body language is a far superior communication format, and trust me the French are good at that.
No one can take away from the French the right to love their language and perhaps also the right to be unwelcome to those who don't speak French, I have a fundamental question to ask the French state and the policy makers. Why should a person, who was granted a VISA to study in France, in an English language MBA Program, be subjected to the torture in the government offices. Mind it, these are offices meant for entertaining the issues of foreigners in particular..and thus you would expect anyone with a little common sense to have some English speaking staff at such bureaus. But no my Goodness, this is France. So, here I am, a Foreigner, going a an office meant to look into issues of foreigners...and no one speaks English..remember this an office meant for Foreigners. The issue is Why grant a long stay VISA to people without insisting on an acceptable level of French at the first place? Feels like someone cheated you big time!
A country that proclaimed that it wants to regain its international position in global affairs, that aims to invite large number of students, researchers, professionals from its Target Nations (many are non-French like India, Brazil), for programs increasingly being taught in English, can't be anything but flexible. French society and the state has to learn to manage its disliking with the non-French speaking junta. If not for the love for English but for the long term interests that France aspires to achieve.
Let us hope that the omnipresent Ads for 'Learning English' found in the Paris Trams and Metros are an indication of a different approach in the not so near future! I hope I havent gone over board in my expressions. Don't get me wrong, I know of several French people and have scores of experiences that display the warmth and affection present here...but nevertheless this point had to be made at some time.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
It was exactly one year ago that I came to France to study at France's jewel institution, the HEC School of Management. As I look back, I can remember innumerable experiences in the past one year that touch my innate feelings. So many memories that will always be etched in my mind..both good and not so good..but all significant nevertheless. As I revisit my blog today after more than an year, I feel an urge to share the thoughts I have on France and the French experience. So, I will share over time my views on HEC- the MBA School, France- the country, culture and bureaucracy, Europe- the land, the beauty and the magic!!