Oh, where to even begin. I am a bit late to the ball game, but better late than never. It was so difficult leaving Strasbourg, France and honestly, Europe in general. As a child, I frequented Ukraine and other European countries during the summer to visit family, and have had an itching to live in a European country since then. While it was nice to see my family and friends that I hadn’t seen since 2018, it was very bittersweet to leave my French city / second home. I miss the bakery I went to every morning on my way to class, being able to walk everywhere and/or rely on public transportation (the tram system in Strasbourg), and speaking French on a daily basis. As many have heard, the French are not exactly keen on speaking English, although a decent amount are able to. It is important that in business AND in general, one makes an effort to at least show respect or interest in the language, even if you are unable to speak it. To do this, one can learn a few basic words (thank you, yes, please, etc.) and use those in addition to their typical [English, for example] vocabulary, which would show respect towards the French language (as you are in their country). When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Luckily, I have been learning French for 7+ years, so did not have an issue with this. Furthermore, the French people are very prideful (which is not a bad thing!), as is evident in their products. When at a supermarket (such as Auchan), you are able to see that most products present are from France; the French are patriotic in terms of their consumption.

On another note, the French are also very professional. There is a large distinguishing factor between casual and professional, especially in terms of attire. Even in the classroom, your typical French student is dressed to impress (girls are wearing pantyhose+skirt+blouse+coat and guys are wearing coat+scarf+pants+button up). I can gladly say that I did not wear a T-Shirt even ONCE during my 6 months in France and traveling, other than to sleep in. The French value eloquence – a quality that I have also come to appreciate.

In France, work is work and lunch is lunch – unlike in the US, where eating time is rushed and we have a “let’s get to it” mentality. As many other European countries, the French value their time at the dinner table or at a cafe during lunch. It is a time for conversation, polite or passionate exchanges, and the satisfaction that only a meal can give. The French also tend to be very well-cultured: knowledgeable about wine, art, and fashion (so feel free to read up on these so that you can better relate with a client if need be!).

Strasbourg me manques beaucoup.

It is not a goodbye, but a see you later!

Until next time Strasbourg/France/Europe,
Sophia Rahimeh