Years passed in France
After finishing my master degree in Paris, I got the opportunity to work directly at the same company where I did my apprenticeship program. It was a real opportunity, and I couldn’t say no and couldn’t let down my parents who I know would love to see me working in France. As a result: I couldn’t go back home for two years in total. It may not be long for some people, but it really was, for me.
So there I was, arrived at the airport, waiting for my family who came for me to pick up. Then, I realized how things changed in my hometown, Jakarta. In two years, I saw a big difference in a lot of things: some recently built highways, the brand new MRT, digital payment services that makes us less worry on forgetting wallet at home, big pavements in Sudirman, etc… How can I miss all these amazing things!
However, all these massive progresses were not the only things that changed. So did I. In two years I didn’t see the same people, didn’t share the same experience, didn’t eat the same food, and didn’t talk the same subject. That makes me a different person, not in good or bad way, just different. At that time, I was too excited to come home, forgetting that adaptation is not only one way trip, it works the same way back.
After one month spent home, here are some real reverse culture shock I’ve experienced last summer:
First, not only jetlagged, I langua-gag!
I remembered when I woke up, probably still half asleep, I went to the kitchen and saw my father and I said to him “je veux bien un café moi aussi” means “I would like a cup of coffee too” because I saw him drinking his coffee that morning. He looked at me weirdly until I’ve realized that I was talking in another language. French was the main language I use for those 2 years, I was really used to it and it did take me a while to find some words in Indonesian. It was quite tricky to socialize with my friends too, as it’s been a while that I don’t use day-to-day language. Some finds my choice of words was really formal and not easy to understand, well, thanks France, you’re making my words too sophisticated.
Secondly, a difference on how to define “politeness”
Ever since we are little, people says we have two hands: the bad hand (left) and the good hand (right). This gesture politeness is an unwritten rule, that we cannot give and ask something with our left hand. We repeat this everyday until it becomes really natural. However, in Europe, people don’t really see the difference. You can give change, pay taxi, point a direction with your left hand – or with your right hand. People will not feel offended and think that you are not impolite. I was really used to this ‘new’ habit of mine until when I got back to Indonesia, I keep handing money with my left hand… And well not-so-surprisingly, every single of these people seem a bit bothered.
Where a no is not simply no
Another case, it’s how we say ‘no’. I was born and raised with a culture that saying no can be considered quite impolite. So instead of no, I try to say other things so the person may get the code and understand that I don’t agree or don’t want to say yes to his or her question. My first 2 years in Paris was really complicated because I couldn’t say no to people. In France people get what they say, a no is a bold no, and a yes means yes. If people ask if you want a cookie and you said no, they will not reask you to make sure that you’re saying no just for politeness. It was a real problem when I got back to Indonesia last summer, people started to think that I’m becoming a bit colder and stern because I said the word no pretty clear. I feel bad after that but it’s not easy to change a habit just in couple of weeks…
When people see me with so much expectation
“It must be really nice to live in such a modern country, you must have changed now”, “You still can eat rice after European foods all the time?”... and a lot more questions about comparing life in Paris and Jakarta, some people even asked bluntly about my private life and how much I got paid, etc. It is hard to measure oneself, I can’t really say if I’m reaching a better place in my life, or if I actually prefer Jakarta to Paris. Everyone keeps thinking that Europe countries are amazing and everything is better right there, while actually the answer can be pretty bias. Each country has their own strength and weakness, Indonesia is a great nation and we should be proud about it. It can be uncomfortable to hear that some people can be really pessimistic on their home country, especially if you hear it almost everyday.
Feelings of alienation
Fear of feeling left out is real, especially when you have a strong connection between you and and people who spend their lives differently than yourself. I’ve spent my time a lot asking my sister what is this food/drink/place/habit/etc. Everyone is using their digital payment service, to get their favorite boba drink or coffee and get it delivered in 30 minutes. And this is a quite different way to buy a beverage in France where a delivery system is not too common and people still prefer to use their credit cards (even though digital payment system do exist). A lot of new places and malls were built in the past 2 years in Jakarta and it didn’t feel good when I can’t join the conversation because I’m not sure what are my surroundings talking about.
Last but not least, reverse homesickness
Maybe I’m exaggerating as it was a one month vacation… But after 2 weeks I started to miss how fast and easy it is to commute in Paris. How nice it is to spend a day outside in a park and read a book without the rush and hush to go to coffee shop in a mall. How rich and interesting a day of museum visits is… and the list goes.
Nevertheless, Indonesia is where I was born and raised, where my family lives and what I still call “home”. Going back may not be easy, but nothing can beat the relief of seeing one’s family, spending time with friends, eating comfort food and especially, talk in one’s native language.
Article wrote by Dytha Franciska and published in Indonesia Mengglobal. Click here to see the article.
So what is apprenticeship?
In France, you don’t have to resort to dishwashing or waitressing jobs if you want to work while pursuing your studies. There are apprenticeship programs that let work in the field you’re studying while you’re still doing your classes and let you make money as well. Read my article published on IndonesiaMengglobal.com early 2019:
It is no secret that a lot of students abroad do a part time job (sometimes more than one) to help them with their day-to-day expenses and to avoid asking additional allowance from their parents. However, a lot of part-time jobs are not really in line with most of their studies. Let’s say being a barista while majoring in architecture, or being a nanny while doing IT for studies.
There is nothing wrong about doing a part-time job, but how about integrating the job in your field of studies, as a part of the curriculum? Giving applause to French government who successfully made this official several decades ago, apprenticeship programs exist in France.
Apprenticeship program, or formation d’apprentissage in French, is not the same as internship. Internship usually begins by the end of the university year, once you finished all of your classes while apprenticeship begins at the same time of the beginning of the university year. However, the objective is the same: to let students have more ‘real’ experience in professional life.
How does apprenticeship in work in France?
This program is only available for people who have already finished high school and are between 16 and 29 years old, as the program aims to give young and motivated young people opportunities to take the first step in the professional world.
Apprenticeship programs usually have their own rhythm of work, depending on the university, in one week you can have 2 days at the office and 3 days at the university, up to 3 weeks of working and 1 week of studying. The scheduling depends on each university and how they implement the program. The mix of academic and work will provide you with a combination of theoretical base and more practical skills, and more importantly to have balance between them.
The program can last from one upto several years, depending on what degree you are preparing for. When the program starts, usually the company gives you 45 days of what they called période d’essaie (probation period) before they finally accept you in the company officially.
Why should I apply for apprenticeship program?
Just like a normal job, apprentices have a right to get paid. Yes, according to your age, the company and the level of your studies, you will have a certain amount of salary every month. Which can help you with your allowance. The best part is that the salary is normally tax-included, which means you don’t need to pay tax afterwards.
Another great thing about apprenticeship is that the company will pay for your school fees. Yes, every single penny of it, they will also reimburse the registration fee. Starting from this year, a foreign student from countries outside of European Union has to pay at least 2,700€ per year for undergraduate studies and 3,700€ per year for postgraduate studies, which means apprenticeship programs are one of the best options to let you study and work abroad at the same time without scholarship. French government is trying their best to increase the percentage of students in apprenticeship every year, the apprentices even get an aid to pay their rent while still having the same benefits like other students (cheaper transportation card, free entry to museums, special price at university canteens and so on).
Not only on financial level, apprenticeship programs allow you to have a better, real working experience. You will have missions and certain responsibilities that your manager will give and direct you to your objectives. Not to mention that it will be a very strong point on your CV especially once you finish your studies as internships required less engagements and usually shorter in terms of duration.
In certain number of cases, a lot of Indonesian apprentices find a job through apprenticeship programs. In one or several years of apprenticeship contracts, the company can see how you can cope up with your work and stress, how you manage your task and how your strong points can be an addition to the team. It allows you to have bigger chance to find a real job, better than to apply somewhere else to test your chance.
What does it take to be an apprentice in France?
In order to enroll in the program you need to find the university that has this program. A lot of universities normally do, even though the number is quite low compared to the regular program, and French government is pushing more universities and companies to start to accept apprentices.
Once you got accepted in the school, you then need to know the essentials: the rhythm of your workdays, and depending on these days, you now need to find companies that are available for this requirement. Normally, French universities have some agreements or collaborations with certain companies (usually the big ones) and have their students / apprentices working for these companies.
The process is like finding a job or internship, you will need to pimp up your CV, send a motivation letter (really important in France!), and then if they interest with your profile they will try to contact you by email or phone call to organize an interview. If you nailed it, they will let you know and ask you to sign the contract.
However, for foreigners, it is not as easy as 1,2,3, because normally we have a studying visa, we need to ask an autorisation de travail (work permit). So why a part-timer doesn’t need a work permit but an apprentice does? The answer is because in France, a foreigner student has the right to work up to 964 hours per university year, which means from September to September normally. Apart from that, you need a working visa or a work permit from <b>DIRECCTE</b> ( Directions régionales des entreprises, de la concurrence, de la consommation, du travail et de l’emploi), or the manpower ministry. Once you have it, you can sign your contract and start your apprenticeship and gain an outstanding experience while finishing your university year at the same time.
So, are you interested in working while studying in France? If yes, I’m waiting for you here!
Article is written by Dytha as volunteer at Indonesia Mengglobal, a platform to encourage young Indonesian people to pursue their dream outside of country. Click here to read this article.
"What are you doing on your birthday?" Or maybe "Do you plan something for your birthday?", some people can also ask "So how was your birthday?"
It tooks me a while to realize that a birthday can be really demanding. Have you ever had some thoughts like "why should I do something?" or "Why people are so busy preparing stuffs on my birthday?". This post can be an unpopular opinion but it does, disturb me for a while. I feel like I have this obligation to invite some people to celebrate the special day, or to be happy the whole day.
Well the thing is, sometimes you just want to have another day in your life. Maybe this kind of thoughts and reflections only come to people in their 20s or 30s. It could be a denial of getting older, which is quite, true for some people.
We have the right to do nothing on our birthday: getting up late, not wearing make up outside, not doing our hair done or stay the whole day under blanket and watching Netflix.
It doesn't have to be a gloomy and sad birthday. You just don't need to live with the expectation of people who cares enough for you to enjoy your birthday.
In the other hand, a cheerful birthday with party can go well too if you are feeling like doing it. I'm here just to say that the pressure of having a great day on your birthday is really overrated and can be different in some cases.
In any case, happy birthday to me.
Have you ever heard about "Winter blues"? Or winter depression? If you're living on the other side of the world, enjoying the sun while reading this than perhaps you don't. That was me, years ago before I moved to France. Winter is beautiful, snowy flakes falling slowly outside the window, hot chocolate under the blanket, cuddles become 100x more desirable (oops), skis, sitting next to fireplace, and so on and so on.
Believe it or not, winter blues is also called SAD. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which to Psychology Today means a type of depression that sets in during the shorter days of of fall and winter lasts until spring that is triggered by the reduced number of daylight hours during the winter months, although other factors, such as cold temperature and weak daylight can make symptoms worse.
Wait, what could be worse than that??
I used to live in a tropical country, with about 12 hours of daylight everyday! Well, you can take off several hours in rainy season but that's it! Nothing could prevent me from seeing the sunshine embraced my skin. I have to admit that, even if France may not be the coldest country in Europe, one month without sun is... quite... distressing. Waking up in the morning without seeing sunlight on the window makes me think that I didn't set up my alarm correctly last night. Wearing tons of layer to get warm outside, to be honest, makes me super lazy to go out especially in the nighttime.
I seem like whining over winter, while I can't avoid it. It's there, there's no way I can escape from it - unless I go back to Indonesia. But it's just funny to think about it. I never thought that I would have such, experience (thanks to universe that let me be here for years). This is not even my first experience. My very first winter was so... good. It was a nice, not-so-cold winter with a lot of discovery in Europe. However, the second one was a bit harder, third one was worse and now I'm on my fourth winter in my life.
So what should I do now?
People, and even internet said light therapy will do the work. Light therapy is an artificial light, made to imitate the sunlight. A lot of articles mentioned that it is quite effective. However, it can quite a lot for a lamp, it can goes up to 300€ or almost Rp 5 000 000. Of course cheaper options exist, but most of them has shorter lifespan.
I'm thinking to get one soon. I hope it can help me get through this winter blues.
Do you ever feel the same? Tell me what did you feel and share how did you overcome it on the comments!
It's been a while...
Things changed, pretty quickly. I didn't realize it's been 3 years (and 1 month, almost two) that I live in France. Things are not the same anymore, because I'm no longer a student. Yes, one year after I did my second year of master, a year of apprenticeship, now I'm finally graduated.
I'm not saying that the education here is better. But it is, different. And this difference makes me grow and makes me who I am right now. I have this thing on my head, I learned it years ago from a woman on her 30s... She said to me "every person is a teacher and every place is a school". I believe in it and that's what I'm trying to do right now. To study a lot from everyone, and to teach and share people what I had.
On the first time I arrived in Paris, France in 2015 I never thought that I will continue living here until now. My life in Jakarta was awesome: I lived with my dad and my sister, I made an awesome side job that allows me to do almost anything that I want and I had a lot of friends here and there, people know me and I do know people.
Living in France is like a dream for some people, well... Maybe that is what people think at the beginning but after a while I just realised how difficult it is to live so far from my comfort zone and start everything from zero. Being an Indonesian, an Asian in Paris might not as dreamy as it seems.
First, la famille, family. If you already lived abroad before, or at least not in your hometown, you may know the exact same feeling like me. It's not simply homesick, it is the fact that maybe you will not find people that could understand you as your family did. Trust me, it is never easy, especially us, Indonesians, we are used to live in community. We meet our families each time we got home, and seeing our grandparents for at least once a month. Well, say hello to distance, we could not do that when we are so far away. This is something really important to think about when you are about to move somewhere abroad, so keep it in mind.
Second, culture shock. I was lucky because I spent two years studying intercultural communication, and three years of french studies so at least I know the basic. At least, that's what I thought! But then again, not at all. After I came here I realised certain (unwritten) norms that maybe you could never find in the internet such as holding the doors for someone behind you (I felt so awful because I didn't know it was so rude not to do it), not to drink before the others and to do toast without seeing the other person in the eyes. They said you will have 7 years of bad sex if you don't see them in the eyes, oops, who wants that?
Third, apartment chasing! For you who's planning to stay in Paris, prepare it well! I'm super lucky that I got a scholarship and I could live in student residence, but for those who don't, be careful. A lot of scams here and there, a lot of paperworks (which is super essential in France) and a big amount of money. We are talking about Paris here, so imagine the living cost is really high especially for the primary needs.
Fourth, yes you can still eat rice everyday. I know for a lot of Indonesians, eating rice is really essential. But there is no need to worry because you could also find it everywhere even in supermarket-chain like Carrefour or Franprix they sell a lot of rice variation. Just a bit of advice, you could choose the riz thailandais (Thai's rice) that is super similar to the rice that we have in Indonesia. However, speaking about the price, it is true that rice costs more than pasta so yeah.
Fifth, Indomie might be your "favorite meal". Yep, if you know the stereotype about university students: Indomie is a cheap food for the end of the month, think again. When you live abroad, Indomie might be something you prefer to eat in special occasions: Indonesian students gathering, sleepovers, or when you are in total homesick. Make sure you bring enough because sometimes it is hard to find one.
That is all for now! Do you have any difficulties or stories to share when living or going abroad? Share them on comments!
For those who knew me since years ago through my ask.fm profile, you will exactly know my favorite place to spend my time. I know, I know, people say that it's 100% overrated and the coffee, compared to Indonesian locals-- or Italian, since I just got back from there, is nowhere close. Now I will finally answer why I keep going back to this American coffeehouse chain.
I find the calm in the middle of the noise
I could set up the volume until maximum and made my head explode. But no, I prefer to work in the middle of the crowd. Weird, but I do believe I'm not the only one. When everyone is busy with their business, I feel like I need to progress on something as well. Plus, each time I get bored, I can always eavesdropping my next table and laugh for nothing. Kidding, well, not really.
I need that extra, extra, extra shot
Yeah you're right, my latte always has an extra shot in it. I'm not shy to admit I'm a caffein junkie. Like the old saying: "Life doesn't start before a (grande) of coffee.
I got lactose intolerant, like the rest of the world
You know what a creamy thing called milk gives me each time I took them? Pimples! I can't abuse myself by taking 3 espressos or americanos in one day. I do need some additional. Ever since they add almond milk in France to their menu, I always go for it. Soy on a coffee? Nan, forget it.
They are open every single fckn day
You know you work too much until you need to look for a Starbucks on Sunday or any holiday just to get in the mood to finish everything before the deadline. Starbucks is my favorite place when I can buy a grande / venti cappuccino and then work myself to death. Just sit next to an electric plug, bring every charger I need (iPhones, Macbook, etc) and then I'm good to dork.
I love to "Pump it up"
Do you speak Starbucks? If you do you might know exactly how many pumps of classic syrup they put on your frappuccino? Don't worry! Like everyone else, me too, like to spoil myself with an extra pump of caramel syrup, with the calories within, of course.
Now you tell me what makes you return to Starbucks on the comments below!
Nope, it's not yet the time for my quarter life crisis... I think I'm a bit too young for that. Hence, remembering that I read a lot of books about existentialism, I start to ask, my own existence...
Living in my twenties makes me thinking, back into my first five years in my life. When people asked me, "Sayang mau jadi apa kalau sudah besar nanti?" in english, "What would you like to be when you grow up?"
Here's what I've been thinking right now:
I'm taking a double degree program, I study communication. I work as a tarot reader. I have so much experience with people (that sounds like a CV okay- sorry). I saw a lot of people with diverse background, age, social status, lifestyle, etc. At the time I see myself on the mirror I ask myself just like those guys back then "Dytha, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE?"
This leaves me hanging a while and thinking a lot... Damn, that is surely one hard question to answer. I read a lot of books and search some references, some days I just do nothing, some days it disturb me before I sleep... Then another question arrived...
"What makes me... me?"
What is my purpose in this life? What is the essence of being me?
What is living? Am I living a life right now?
Or I just live like the rest human beings?
Or I'm here just to fulfil everyone's expectation?
Or I'm here to make everyone happy?
If everyone else is happy, will I be happy?
Who, am, I?
I can't find my meaning in this life, yet. Well I have some goals... But now that I have those, what would it be? Would it be worth it someday? Would it be useful? Does anyone even need that? Do I EVEN need that? What is my purpose here?
What makes human a human?