Saturday, May 14, 2011

An elegant culture

Another thing that one should mention when talking about the French culture is the importance of elegance in their life. French society is definitely a stylish society. Everything here marks grace, whether it be the way parents dress up their children or whether it be the way they decorate their home – everything shows sophistication.

I got an opportunity to visit many castles and cathedrals during my stay in France. Every city has a unique cathedral and every city’s existence is deepened by their history. Similarly, I got an opportunity to visit some of my friend’s house in Amiens and Paris and similar castle like graceful environment is reflected by the French homes. The furniture is well designed and small because French do not necessarily believe in buying big to impress others. Another perfect example of this can be seen by the way children are in France. From a small age they develop a sense of fashion, something that I found unique of this culture.

At a small age, parents dress their children in a very stylish fashion. By stylish I mean they would dress their daughters in jeans and small high-heeled shoes, gladiator shoes and skirts, jeans jacket etc. and their sons in, waistcoats and tight jeans pant, with party shoes. Basically something that is not over the top but at the same time is not very casual. Something that really caught me by surprise is that the French parents intake on dressing their children. They learn this sense of stylishness from their parents as a gift and they pass it on to other generation by adding more gracefulness into it. Sweat shirts, sweat pants, basketball shorts is not a proper uniform for school but a well fit pant with party style shoes, jacket, sweater or a blazer and scarf would be a perfect way to come to school. Refinement is definitely a valued trait in French family.

In terms of entertainment, children are not seen playing with electronics gadgets but engage themselves in outdoor activities like football and skateboard. And youth usually engage themselves in other activities like socializing with friends on a café or a bar rather than spending time on video games. A French society might appear to be more 'fashionist' than any other counterparts in Europe; however, they cannot be called a materialistic society but rather a elegantly decorated society.

The picture below shows a typical dressing style of the french children :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

French views on Marriage, Preganancy, Children

What I am going to talk about below is based on my eight-month's experience and observation in France.

Views about marriage, pregnancy, ideal number of children or importance having child in life, family cohesion etc. are all the important elements that create French family values. French people have a fairly open mentality when it comes to these subject and they do not hesitate to give their opinions about it. (Or any other matter)

In French culture like any other culture; marriage signifies a sacred communion of two souls. It also signifies a new beginning of a long lasting relation between family members. It is an auspicious day for both the couples and the family members. The French law strictly requires couples to get married in the town/city hall first and then carry out other ritual ceremonies at their own interest. Depending on where you live in France, different local traditions and practices might be carried out before a wedding. In Amiens, the bride and the groom are supposed to do something peculiar like dress up odd, give a performance in the street etc. to collect money that they NEED to use for their wedding ceremony and the rest could be used of partying or performing any other wedding related activities. It is very neat. Usually, family members of each other’s family assist them with this ritual. As explained by locals in Amiens, this ritual allows the community to be a part of their wedding. The donation they receive also means the blessing from all the community. In addition, the help they get from family members symbolizes the future support that they would get from their family after wedding.

French society mostly comprises of Christians. Regardless, most of the people have an open view about 'concubinage' and 'pre marital pregnancy' in France. Concubinage is defined as an act of cohabiting of a man and a woman without legal marriage and pre marital pregnancy is having a child before getting legally married. This practice is supported but not encouraged by the French people, especially youths and young adults. However, parents of youths have become more open in the past years regarding such matter. The French law also recognizes it. France is a more family oriented society yet it still values individual decision. Thus, a household with unmarried parents is still considered a form of family, however, it is entirely up to those individuals to decide how they would define role as parents. An ideal family France comprises of about average of two children and the need of a child to complete their married life is felt by both male and female.

French family cohesion can be portrayed by their love for their nation and the French language. Parents at an early age teach their children about their nation and the history about how their country came to be. So children feel obligated to live in France and serve their country. Amiens was a city completely destroyed by the world wars and over the years it was slowly reconstructed by hard efforts put in by their ancestors. Thus it is very common for locals to appreciate foreigners who try to speak their language. It is also very common to see people talk about certain obligations that they need to fulfill towards their family, their nation and fellow citizens. People who live here, love living here and the idea of moving to a different country in search of ‘better’ opportunities rarely exists.

Live close to family, serve our own people, speak our own language, know your roots, enjoy life, exercise balance in daily life is a perfect French philosophy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The role of French Government in providing a 'quality' family life...

When talking about the balance between work and family life, it becomes essential to talk about certain facilities that French people are entitled to, which allows French parents to work less and support their family and at the same time provide quality life for their children. The most important privilege that every French citizens are entitled to is the national health care system placed by the government of France. France no doubt, has one of the best health systems in Europe. Because of this reason, parents do not have to work extra hours to pay for their family health insurance or hospital bills etc. Unlike countries like United States of America, France has a secured health system to aid its citizens. I learnt about the health care system when I was myself applying for my residence permit and had to go for a health check up. It is then that one of patient at the waiting room explained how they go to the doctor for every small thing because they are covered for it and even hospital matters do not cost them a fortune.

Below is a clip that explains the ‘amazing’ health care system in France.

Second facility that all the French parents have access to is a very supportive childcare system where day care costs are often heavily subsidized and pre schools are often free. Due to these reasons, many parents do not worry about spending most of their daily income on childcare facilities. When mothers go to work they are content that her child is safe in day care where they excellent care is provided. Due to the same reason, parents do not find it necessary to work long hours but instead enjoy spending quality time with their young ones. At the beginning of the semester when our group had to create a company for a project, we decided to create a business plan for a daycare company and developed costs based on our previous knowledge about the prices in North America. I was surprised when the students commented on how expensive the prices looked in their view. The French people do not comprehend the idea of a costly childcare because the French government and other organizations has heavily subsidized such facilities for them.

Another interesting fact that came as a surprise for me from my German Erasmus first semester was the fact that French women generally are better at balancing work and family life than German women. When I thought about Germany, I always assumed that everything is systematic and properly laid out, thus, automatically there would be a system placed out to balance work and family life for German mothers. However, while surfing the Internet for more facts on that, I stumbled across numerous articles that gave many reasons why French women are better at balancing work and family life. Some of the reasons was the fact that in France women have more opportunity to secure a higher position at a job making them financially stable, there is very less amount of gender gap between males and females in France and France has a better childcare and healthcare system, all of which directly affects family life. While in Germany, it sometimes becomes hard for female to choose between career and family.

In Amiens, I have noticed that many female secure superior positions in banks and other government institution. At the same time, they provide their children with quality bonding time, whether it means more vacation and outing or simply more family fun time. The French's do not compromise on that.
Something that can be learnt from French culture: there is no compromise when it comes to having fun. It is something I love about the French culture.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Art de Vivre'

The French lifestyle in true sense can be called a balanced lifestyle. What I mean by a ‘balanced lifestyle’ is a routine where work and vacation, fun and hard work, family and career are completely balanced. French call it “Art de vivre”. It is, in true sense, a very beautiful art of living. The French have a 35 hour work week when they work, they have a long lunch break when they enjoy their meal in a relaxed fashion, they have vacation at the end of a certain period when they travel with family and friends to neighbouring country or city. Everything seems to be aimed towards enjoying life more and reducing stress.

French do not compromise when it comes to enjoying life and that same value is reflected on individual’s family life. In France, every family seems to live very artistically. While the French culture can be described as being influenced by beauty and elegance rather than efficacy, it can also be defined by the expected fulfillment of duties and responsibilities towards ones family. French family life is a perfect balance between a happy, relaxing upbringing and a duty-seeking environment. Furthermore, it is a matter about paying back what you had once received. As young infants and youth parents fulfill their responsibilities as parents and when the child grows up certain obligations are anticipated of him or her towards the family.

A student at Amiens School Of Management who is a third year graduate level student remarks, ‘family values in France does not necessarily support the idea of separating after one is capable of supporting oneself, there are certain duties that are expected to be fulfilled’. The student’s remark is very apparent in practice in Amiens at least where students age 25-26 are still living with their family while still having a well paid job or an internship. Helping and supporting their family by living with in the family highlights the importance togetherness in French culture.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Hi everyone,
My name is Rochana Kaushik and I am currently on an exchange program in Amiens, France. Amiens is a very beautiful city that is located just an hour away from the beautiful Paris. I have been in Amiens for eight months now and during my stay here, I got the opportunity to experience and recognize a lot of new things about the French culture. So far, it has been nothing but a pleasant experience. Following the good experience I had in this period of time, I wanted to talk about some the aspects of the French culture in order to provide a closer insight on how the French society is built. Hence I decided to build a blog to introduce the French family life and values. I believe that family values influence the formation of societies. I also believe that different cultures have different family values and lifestyle. Therefore, I will be posting regularly about things I learnt and noticed about family life, family orientation, family values, etc. in Amiens (in particular) and France (in general) up until now

Below are some pictures that reflect the life in Amiens.