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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Working as a Dutch person for Ireland in France

Floor from the Netherlands who is working for Ireland but living in France.
I am Floor and I was born and raised in the Netherlands. Last year I arrived in France to work here for three years, however, my employer is Irish. An awesome collaboration between three European countries, but also a challenge. Apart from practical difficulties, this is also a great opportunity to learn. Because, even though France, Ireland, and the Netherlands are all Western European countries, the cultures are really different. Every day feels like an adventure. The French with their quirky habits, the Irish with their overly politeness, and me, the Dutchman observing it all. There is something new to learn every day!

Context :

Almost two years ago I left the Netherlands, my home country, to embark upon a journey to start working at INRAE Nantes in France. To make this change even more exciting and challenging, I started working for an Irish employer: University college Dublin.

It has been quite a pleasure and very insightful to navigate between three different cultures; working as a Dutch person for Ireland in France. This setup certainly comes with some practical challenges, e.g., In which country to obtain a health insurance? I live in France but I get my income from and thus pay my taxes in Ireland. However, to get a health insurance in Ireland I have to be Irish but I was born in the Netherlands. However, to get a health insurance in the Netherlands I have to live there but I live in France.

Apart from these impossible struggles, learning about the cultural differences is super. A great thing about French people is that they always wish you the best (“bonne journée”, “bonne soirée”, “bon appétit”, etc.), and often in a very specific manner (“bonne fin d’après-midi!”). Another remarkable thing is how “carré” people are. A Frenchman will always walk the extra meters to get to a “passage piéton” to cross the road, even if the street is completely deserted.

On a linguistic level, I really like the use of re- and dé- to change the meaning of a word (“confinement, déconfinement, reconfinement”; “se inscrire, se désinscrire, se réinscrire”). Another beautiful example is the use of “Bonjour” to greet someone and “rebonjour” when you see someone again on the same day; that “débonjour” is not used instead of “au revoir” is really a missed opportunity!

What amazes me is that all French people seem to know how to talk, a lot. By which I mean that French people can just keep on talking. Even if their point is already clear, they keep repeating the same thing using different words. Very different from the “directness” foreigners accuse Dutch people of. I guess Dutch people are more efficient. We would hesitate to do something if we don’t see that it is useful, whereas here in France, I have the feeling that a lot of things are done because people always have done it like that. This can result in a lot of paperwork. On that note, why the need to write “lu et approuvé” when you sign a document? Isn’t the fact that you sign already a testimony that you actually read the thing and approved of its content?!

All joking aside, I really like living in France. Every day feels like an adventure. The French with their quirky habits, the Irish with their overly politeness, and me, the Dutchman observing it all. There is something new to learn every day!