All posts by Flemming Funch

1: Introduction

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Published by the AIT International Club, © 2006. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher, except for reading and browsing via the World Wide Web. Users are not permitted to mount these files on any network servers. Browsers may copy information for personal use only. Reproduction for commercial purposes is expressly forbidden. Continue reading 1: Introduction

2: Culture Shock

Once settled, life can finally return to normal. Left behind are frantic weeks of packing and unpacking, long hours on airplanes, stress, fatigue and the inevitable house hunting. After this most tedious phase of transition is past, the pleasures of life of France can begin. This will be an exciting time, filled with newness, change, and the ever-important necessity of adjusting to a new culture. Being aware of this “process of adjustment” can help ensure that a stay in France will be enriched by cultural differences, rather than overwhelmed by them.To understand culture shock, or the adjustment to a new culture, is to first realize that much of our own behavior is culturally bound and not individually initiated. Like the mother tongue one speaks, one’s own culture is learned gradually, first as a child and subsequently over a long period of time. The way to do things was often the way “they” did things, a learning and internalization process that is forgotten, as it occurred so long ago. However, when suddenly uprooted from one’s own culture and beginning life in a new one, one thing that quickly becomes evident is that “things are sure done differently here from the way they are done at home!” This is the initial step of culture shock, which will lead eventually to cultural awareness. Continue reading 2: Culture Shock

5: Housing

You have arrived in France! The details of settling into a new house may not be foremost in your mind as you disembark from the aircraft, but you will soon be confronted with the task. There are English-speaking organizations available that can help you with the process of settling in. (See Chapter 23, “Leisure-Other Organizations”, or the list of Relocation Assistance professionals here below) and check with your company before leaving your home country. Continue reading 5: Housing

6: Utilities & Television


The French have two companies that provide service for gas or electricity; EDF for electricity and GDF for gas.

The French electrical current is 220 volts (V) and 50 cycles (Hz). Electrical items designed for 220V/50Hz will work fine, but most likely will need plug adapters to fit the French outlets. Items with a selectable 200V/50Hz switch, i.e. computers and stereo systems, will run fine in France by simply setting the switch for 220V. Televisions and VCR’s having changeable voltage have other problems which will be discussed later in this section. Continue reading 6: Utilities & Television

7: Telephone & Internet

In France, with the privatization of telephony, the telephone physical network became the property of France Telecom. However, many Telephony Service Providers may offer their interconnect service over these lines.  Any Internet Service Provider can do the same. So, you can have as many as three subscriptions: one from France Telecom for the physical connection, another from a Telephony Service Supplier and a third from an Internet Service Provider. Continue reading 7: Telephone & Internet

8: Motor Vehicles

Driving in France will present a minimum of problems to most drivers. It is legal to drive on your home home country driver’s licence for up to a year, after which time you must apply for a French license. Americans who have been issued a valid driver’s license from Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Florida or South Carolina, (or an EEC/European Union license), may exchange their license for a French one without passing a test, but only within the first year after the official date of entry into France. You may still retain your US driver’s license upon request. Continue reading 8: Motor Vehicles

10: Taxes & Legal


There are several types of taxes that you will be expected to pay during your residence in France. In addition to the obvious French and home country taxes, you may also be subject to residency and television taxes where applicable. Professionals specializing in expatriate taxes can be found in all countries and may well be worth the time and money if your employer does not provide professional assistance.
Regardless of whether an overseas assignment is permanent or temporary, most countries require some type of tax return from all expatriates. As paying taxes is a highly individualized situation, (depending on such specifics as country/state of origin, type of employment contract, etc.), it is recommended that you inquire about your specific tax liabilities, both at home and in France.

Continue reading 10: Taxes & Legal

12: Postal System

There are over 25 PTT (Post Offices) located in greater Toulouse; the main Poste is at 9 rue Lafayette, near Place Capitole. Hours of operation are usually 08:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00 weekdays, and until noon on Saturdays; check with your local PTT to confirm its hours of operation. The main post office and other centres de tri (sorting centers), such as St-Michel, stay open during lunch hours (journée continue). Post offices sell telephone cards, and have pay phones, a Minitel (See Chapter 7, “Telephone Service”) and photocopiers available for public use. Most post offices have coin-operated machines for buying stamps and weighing packages, some have a fax machine. The French postal system also provides banking services, so the wait can be long. Continue reading 12: Postal System