French Expat Living in India
Flavie is 25 years French Expat who has been living in India. She has done six-month-internship as business developer for an Indian law firm. Basically she has done public relations so she met all kind of people, foreigners and local with different positions.
Here’s the interview with Flavie…
- What did you know about India before coming?
I didn’t know much before coming. It was the best and the worst part of my experience there. For future career research, I am focused on cultural aspect, culture at work and how to handle a multicultural (or a different culture) team. To do so, I didn’t want to have too much clichés or any opinions about working in India. I just informed myself about the main practices at work, and daily life.
- What expectations did you have about your experience here?
Mainly to bring myself a new experience with a very different culture, ad simply discovering another part of the world.
- What was the first thing that shocked you when you first came here?
– Well, let’s say, lots of things took me by surprise. I would probably say the dirty streets, but I was kind of expecting that.
Maybe the first thing was the fact that India is not how travellers say it is. I mean, India is certainly poor and there are things you must respect in order to have a great (and maybe safe) journey. However, when in Delhi, you realize that lots of things are not so different from home. Of course you have the cultural shock, but if you are not attract in travelling around India (what would be sad), you come across very “Occidentalized” people and stuff. After what I read before leaving France I was thousand miles from thinking that.
- What things took you the longest to get used to? (Food, people, noise, dirt, traffic, pollution, etc.)
I’ve never had problem with Indian food (except food poisoning with a black forest which is a German cake so I don’t take it into accountJ), and I guess that’s probably the reason why I loved so much my Indian adventure. Cause to get used to somewhere and to live well you have to eat well (trust me, I lived in England I know what I’m talking aboutJ). Maybe because it is important in my culture I don’t know..
Anyway, I had some difficulties to get used to with hierarchy at work, always have to find the right person I could get information from. Waiting for the person they esteemed to be right one to talk to me… annoying sometimes.
- In your daily life what are the main challenges you find?
I guess there two. First going to work, I was mostly travelling by rickshaw, and to be pushed out of your comfort zone, that was a good start. I was even not sure every morning to find one to go to work. But it finally went very well. And then, doing grocery Before going to India someone told me, “you’ll find everything you want just like in Europe”, (that is not very true), you can almost find everything you need, but what this person didn’t tell me, you probably can but you need to shop in five different stores to get your entire list! Once you adjust yourself, once again, you get over it.
- Professionally what are main challenges you find?
I constantly had to get over obstacles. Just to draw the situation, I was the only one foreigner, working with Indians only.
- Culturally, what things are hard to deal with?
I find sometimes the women position hard to see or to handle in India. And I noticed when talking with other expats, male expats, that their experience was totally different from mine.
- What has helped you the most to get used to live here?
Maybe the fact I love meeting people and get to know about culture. I immerged myself into the country, I was not wearing sarees or anything, no need for that, showing interest to people is very efficient! I guess the fact that I really wanted to live a cultural shock, I really looked forward to, I was ready to. For people who are not willing to move in, I think India is complicated to manage.
- How about housing? Was it complicated to deal with landlords? Were there new rules you were not expecting?
Housing was probably the worst part of my experience. Very complicated to deal with landlord, even when they want to attract Europeans, they don’t offer European standards or they don’t how to deal with Europeans. They can impose you all the rules they want, for some, you even must ask for permission when you’re family is visiting you. I hated this part of India, feeling like you’re not free, that’s a complicated feeling.
- Does people treat you differently because of being a foreigner?
Of course. Sometimes it’s in a good way, a very good one because they are so happy to meet someone different. And sometimes not, in shops for example they are often asking for more money.
- Was it hard to deal with the immigration requirements?
I didn’t have much to deal with immigration requirements except when I did my visa (which is a nightmare already), and I didn’t deal with FRRO cause I was there with an internship visa (ending my studies) for six month (and for more you have to), but I’ve heard it is very complicated, and you’d better have a local with you if you want to get the things done.
- What recommendations, tips and advice could you give to people coming to India for work?
Going there with an open mind, like very open, otherwise you’ll miss a lot, and India has so much to offer. Leaving the occidental way of thinking/ doing back to your home country and try to think as a local as much as possible. That’s the way differences disappear, and that is how you’ll get a lot from your stay.
The amazing thing about India is if you show a minimum interest for the culture people will treat you amazingly.
- What are the positive things of being here?
I maybe described my experience quite negatively sometimes, but I must say that I loved my experience there, I maybe sometimes not loved the way of working, but I was also very surprised by people’s generosity.
- Finally, can you give a brief description of your background (Work area, time spent in India, Age, interests? (BTW, thank you for your time 🙂 Have a great day!)
I am 25 and I did a six-month-internship as business developer for an Indian law firm, basically I did public relations so I met all kind of people, foreigners and local with different positions.