After graduation, a foreign student who does not want to leave France faces new questions. The main one is how to legally stay in the country when there are no more reasons to get a student visa. Minster Daria tells how she solved this problem, for which she loves and dislikes the French, and how village life is better than urban life.
About the master, urgent job search and starting a business
For two years of living in France, I learned a language and with my Belarusian diploma from the Faculty of Journalism of BSU, I entered the magistracy as a communications specialist. This was a continuation of the first profession.
Although in France the concept of master of communications is broader than in Belarus. After graduating from the magistracy, you become not just a specialist in public relations, with this diploma you can do PR in agencies or on the enterprise side, work in the advertising business or, which is especially interesting for me, organize events – festivals, exhibitions, concerts …
During my studies, I was an intern at the state committee that provides young people with housing. We did an exhibition on real estate – a giant event that took place in the very center of Lyon, with hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of guests. Preparing for such events lasts several months.
Master in France is a two-and one-year. After two years, you can apply for a six-month visa to look for a job, and after a one-year I have finished, no. True, I found out about this on the day when I came to apply for a visa extension.
I tell them that after a week my internship ends, a student visa is also on the way, and I ask you to give time to look for a job. I am answered that if I do not bring a work contract in a week, I can pack my bags and leave France. In a word, everything is done to ensure that no one stays after school.
Finding a week’s job here is unrealistic even for an indigenous Frenchman with an excellent education. There are two types of contracts – temporary and permanent. Most work on a temporary basis, which must be renewed every year. But to get even such a contract, you have to go through a probationary period, which lasts 2-3 months. Employers will never sign a contract with a man from the street.
Perhaps, it was necessary to start looking for work even in the magistracy. But frankly, there was no time for that. During their studies, all students are looking for an internship, because without it you will not be able to finish the year. But if in Belarus, for example, a university gives you a list of enterprises that dream of taking a young specialist, then you have to look for a place yourself. It took me four months to do this search, I sent 300 resumes, as a result I found four vacant places and all over the last week. That’s how it is.
In general, the work was tight. I already thought that I would have to leave and start all over again. But then the solution was found by itself. Together with a friend, we organized a private enterprise for communications. In fact, I had no choice – my business became the only opportunity to legally remain in the country.
A company should not just be created, but really work, show financial results of activity. It is not necessary that millions immediately flow on you. The French authorities understand that you are a young entrepreneur, you cannot have super profits at first. For example, in my first year profit was only 1,500 euros. But this was enough to extend the visa.
About the French social system, fashion and style of communication
The social system here is so arranged that the state is obliged to protect you. If you officially rented a house, the owner has no right to unexpectedly raise your rent or evict you from an apartment. If you got a job, you get access to all social guarantees. Some use it. It’s a normal practice to go to a doctor, get a certificate that you are depressed, stay at home and get paid for it.
I like living in France, but the French themselves, frankly, disappointed. They have a completely different idea of friendship. Here it is believed that friends – where I am. At university, you can be the best friends with a person, you can spend all evenings together, but if you graduate from a university, he will not remember you, he will never call you, now his friends are where he works. This is not an isolated case, but a widespread practice.
I think the French can be called hypocritical. They may tell nasty things about a man behind their eyes, but they will admit to face that love is boundless. So did the students with whom I studied, and the retirees who are now meeting at the shelter for dogs. At first it was shocking.
When I came to Belarus, I was shocked by something else. In the store you can get nasty, if the seller does not want to smile at you – he will not. In France, this does not happen, politeness is in their blood, their smiles are already automatic. But if in Belarus a person tells you that he likes you and he will be glad to see you again, then, most likely, this is true. In France, you will hear such words more often, but they will mean nothing.
Of course, not all are. During the years of my life here, I have made excellent friends – open, kind, honest people. But in general, there is more hypocrisy in France than in Belarus.
It is believed that the French are obsessed with cooking and fashion. The first seems to be true, but the second is definitely not. Maybe in Paris they dress better, but in Lyon many look as if they were just walking from a collective farm. And apparently, it does not bother them at all.
I’m talking about the general mass of people, not the rich, but the most ordinary, those that walk the streets. Once in winter, I saw an African woman in a coat and ballet shoes on the subway. In the frost, it is often possible to meet a person in one sweater, T-shirt, sneakers … And at the same time, no one will look at him as if he was crazy. And yes, there will definitely be a scarf on it. So in the summer: on many T-shirt, sneakers and scarf.
They don’t care what kind of faith or nationality you have. Millions of immigrants have lived in France for decades, a white man cannot be found in public transport in Paris, they are used to it. Some manifestations of racism, I have never met. If negative attitude to visitors, it is only because of their way of life, and not a different culture.
It is no secret that many immigrants enjoy local social subsidies. For example, an Arab woman with five children may receive alimony and benefits up to 4,000 euros. And why should she work? And an ordinary Frenchman has a salary of 1,500 euros, half of which he pays for renting housing – there are many, even families with children, renting apartments.
About moving to the village, local infrastructure and alpine landscapes
I worked for a few years in Lyon, and then moved to the village near the town of Roman-sur-Isere. Here the villages are not at all like in Russia or Belarus. In France, it is considered prestigious to live in nature, almost all rich people live in private houses in the suburbs.
A typical French village is a tidy village with good roads and quality houses. It is clear that all cottages with communications – telephone, Internet, television, many have a pool. Even in the smallest village there will be an excellent shopping center, a good cafe and other infrastructure. And you can always reach the city in a couple of minutes by car.
There is work here. On the outskirts of large cities, various services and industrial zones are usually located, for example, Renault, Citroën, or Peugeot plants. You can get there, or find something in the village itself.
To be honest, I liked the rural lifestyle more than the urban one. In Lyon, we rented small apartments, and here we have a big house. They had to shake in public transport, spend time traveling to work, every day there was some kind of stress. And here you can see the Alps from the window, and if you need to go to the city, you can drive a few minutes by car along good roads.
Yes, and property prices are much nicer here – a two-story house in the village will cost about the same as a 60-meter apartment in the center of a big city.