Sunday, May 14, 2006

Miam, miam.

We (Americans) say "yum, yum" they say "miam, miam". Sounds the exact same, yet spelled differently. Who knew?

I'm currently reading "Paris to the Moon" and am enjoying reading about the history of this city as well as the authors experience of living in France. I guess all Americans...all foreigners maybe...experience similar things when moving to this country.

For example, the pains of obtaining a carte de sejour (resident card). My mandatory medical appointment for the carte de sejour was this week. I waited 2 hours (!!!) for a 15 minute long appointment. It was in a medical office of one pretty laid back doctor in red Converse high tops who luckily was in the hallway when I arrived, noticed that I was there for my carte de sejour medical appointment, and pointed me in the direction of the salle d'attends (=waiting room). I sat down among 6 others and waited and waited while others exited and entered. Once she called me in, she asked me many questions about my medical french, of course. I was pretty shocked to find out that the Prefecture (the government agency) chose a physician, who barely speaks any English, to meet with foreigners who are in the painful process of obtaining their carte de sejour. I suppose they should note that it would be wise to know french before going to the medical appointment or take an interpreter along with you. I did my best to figure out what she was asking me. At one point, she did have to say "pee-pee" and "poo-poo" to me as I did not understand that she was asking me if I was regularly going to the bathroom.

Another thing discussed in the book is that the customer service anywhere in this butt. It's just not top notch like one can usually find in the United States. I suppose companies in this country do not care if they keep your business or not. Something that is very hard for me to get used to is that one is charged per minute for any call to any customer service department for any company. We are so spoiled in the US. An example of mouth dropping terrible customer service...Darin needed to get some Patagonia ski pants repaired. We have a Patagonia store here in Annecy and took the pants in to be repaired. Unfortunately, they don't do repairs at this store, but they do do repairs at the Chamonix store (an hour and a half drive away). She did not bother to offer to take the pants and send them to the Cham store so we asked her if she can. She replied, "non" and that we would need to drive there yourselves! Unbelievable.

Here's something else that I have been having a hard time understanding. We were discussing employment and resumes and such in class one day recently. Our prof was discussing what information is required on a French resume. Be prepared to be shocked. Marital status (!!), age (!!!), how many children you have (!!!!), and it is helpful, but no longer required, to attach a photo of yourself (!!!!!). My jaw had dropped (again) during this discussion. Sadly, I was sitting the front row this day and the prof noticed my shock and just shook her head and said, "Different cultures do different thing differently". This comment brought back memories of my childhood when my parents would say, "Different families do different things." Man, I hope this country soon changes their ways from being ageist, sexist, etc.


Jennifer said...

My family always said, "Different families do things differently" too!! I always thought it was a cop-out and a discussion-closer, but I guess it's true...

Cecilia said...

This post makes me smile. I had the same shock (and confusion) when I prepared my resume here in the US. I lived in Belgium for 7 years (after having moved there from Asia), and then moved out here in the US. I had to delete all of what you mentioned here, and I felt my resume was sort of "naked" without those other info. My husband (an American) was actually shocked, too, to see that I had those info in there.

BTW, I found your blog on Delightful Blogs directory. I'm glad I did. It's a delight to read your entries here that are so familiar to me (and miss very much). It's been a year and 5 months now, but I'm still missing what I'd come to know as my home in Europe.

Thanks again!