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Archive for December, 2011

French airport strikes continue, though will likely improve

December 20th, 2011 1 comment

Great news out of France for travelers (including me tomorrow):

Several security service teams working at airports around France are striking to receive more benefits and a pay raise.

This has affected Lyon St. Exupéry Airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Roissy CDG), Toulouse and this may soon expand to Nice, Bâle-Mulhouse (Basel-Mulhouse) and Rennes. Video below.

The Aéroports de Paris website states the following at 3pm today: “Paris-CDG: Industrial action by security companies, 3 pm update Paris-CDG Terminal 2 : 15 mn wait time at security checks, up to 60 mn at peak times. No flight cancellations. Paris-Orly : normal situation.”

Normally the strikes before were also in terminals 1 and 3 of CDG. The Lyon website says strikes should continue to cause delays today but should not result in cancellations. To be confirmed.

Now the French government is looking into having a law obliging airports to have minimum service during strikes. They’ve also named 2 official mediators to try to resolve the crisis.

For the latest updates, call your airline and please check the respective airport websites and France 24 for latest information.

I’ll be writing a bit less during the holidays. Safe travels and Happy Holidays!

As expat numbers grow, what does it take to succeed abroad?

December 12th, 2011 2 comments

The BBC has two recent pieces on expatriate professionals, one here from Dec 5, the other here from Dec 11.

The latter article has a list of “Top three relocation tips“:

-Research language and red tape – especially visas
-Closely involve the family
-Keep a firm grip on the process – or have someone else do it

Some excerpts are below (my emphasis in bold).

What are your experiences as expats or potential expats? What are the most challenging issues for you? What are the greatest opportunities that expat life can offer?

5 December 2011 Last updated at 00:02 GMT
Exodus: Movement of rich people – a life at home abroad
By Rebecca Marston
Business reporter, BBC News

An Italian professor of maths moves from Rome to New York State, a lawyer moves from Sydney to Hong Kong after a spell in the Cayman Islands in between, a Portuguese executive moves from Mexico City to Bogota, a violinist leaves Serbia for the UK.

The movement of professional people on this scale was unimaginable 10 years ago.

The cross-border migration of highly-educated people from upper-middle income countries rose by 44% between 2000 and 2006, according to a recently published study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In low income countries the cross-border movements also jumped significantly, by 28%.

Intra-company transfers in developed countries rose 39% between 2005 and 2008, and this does not include intra-company transfers within the European Economic Area, says OECD policy analyst Jonathan Chaloff, even though the scale of those “can be considerable”.

“What is clear is a trend towards an increase, albeit interrupted by the economic crisis,” says Mr Chaloff.

Multi-national companies and government organisations confirm that view….

….Some get a strong taste for the life, but for others it is fraught with pitfalls both practical and emotional; there is homesickness, or relationship breakup….

….One of the key mistakes companies make, he says, is to assume that someone who has successfully completed a project in one country will be able to do the same elsewhere: “Most people say you have to be resilient – I think its more than resilience.

“We would argue very strongly that having intelligence on this person, knowing how they tick would help immensely. Some of it is about what you know but that’s only part of it, its about your approach to it as well.

“You may think ‘this guy has done a good job delivering in this country – lets get him to do the same in India – he’ll be good at that’ – well, will he?”

But as globalisation and economic growth – where ever it may be found – continues, the experience of moving countries and continents is becoming better understood….

Many move for a better life and more money, although firms – and relocatees – report relocation packages are less generous than they typically were five years ago. This partly reflects that these days it’s not just the most senior executives that are moving. Amongst the number of middle-ranking professionals seeking a new life abroad is rising, but they are cheaper and may not be expected to stay as long.

Brookfield’s Scott Sullivan says there is a move to more flexibility: “Companies are attempting to leverage flexibility by offering what is really needed for an individual assignee… as opposed to a blanket policy with full entitlement to all provisions.”

Relocation itself is big business. Brookfield says relocation expenses for its business total $3.6bn a year….

And parts of the second article below…

11 December 2011 Last updated at 17:37 GMT
The new job that means relocating your life
By Rebecca Marston
Business reporter, BBC News

The world awaits professional skills but it takes a huge range of abilities to make the move to another country

“I often wonder why people don’t take the opportunity to move abroad more often – if you don’t like it you can always go back,” says Colin Smith, general counsel in Hong Kong for hedge fund managers Orchard Capital Partners Limited.

He’s one of a growing number of professionals to whom the location of a job is as important as the length of commute for most of us.

His qualifications as a corporate lawyer make him very portable.

“Banking and corporate legal professionals move quite a lot, what we do can essentially be done in any global financial centre. I have requested every move I’ve made myself.”

One of these moves was to Sydney, which he decided to leave for what might seem a contrary reason: “It was primarily my work-life balance.”

For a corporate lawyer, a 12-hour day is a short one. Perhaps the workload was too light.

Colin explains: “In Sydney, life was good. Every weekend was like a holiday. But, after five years it switched from every weekend being a holiday to almost every weekend in the office. Plus in comparative terms, it is very expensive. I decided to relocate again to find a better balance.”

That sort of moving around takes some organisation – something that many people would find far too daunting.

Check list
On top of the challenge of preparing for a new job, with a new office, in an alien location, there are visas to arrange, flights, accommodation, and shipping your goods – after you have decided what to take.

Colin says the most important thing to tackle is the visa: “That is the first issue, but if you’re moving with a company the firm works that out for you so you don’t have to worry about that.”

For these intra-company moves, there is often plenty of help, with the firm paying towards housing, flights, one month’s accommodation and the shipping of goods.

Even with that help from the firm, there are still other vital practicalities to be tackled.

“You have to find out who provides telephones, the internet, the best way to get to work.”

Most multi-nationals provide a check-list for staff moving, as well as the practical help. And there are relocation firms themselves to whom you can turn for advice….

Lyon’s Fête des Lumières this weekend

December 9th, 2011 No comments

The annual Fête des Lumières in the wonderful city of Lyon, France takes place this weekend. I’ve been the past four years and will be there again this weekend, along with millions of other visitors (in addition to the local Lyon area population of 1.8 million or so).

For more information on this great event, check out This French Life, The Daily Mail UK’s great article, and of course the official site.

Enjoy!

Interviews with American expats in France: cultural perspective

December 6th, 2011 2 comments

Bonjour!

I was recently interviewed by Margarita Gokun Silver, MPH, CPCC, PNLP at her site here (article below). I sought to explain my story and provide a little does of cultural insight into living in France based on my experiences.

My fellow expat in France, Lindsey, was also interviewed about doing business in France as she started her own company, Lola’s Cookies, selling cookies. You can find that article here.

I invite you to leave your own cultural perspectives in the comments section below.

An American in France
Posted on December 5, 2011

There have been quite a few famous Americans (and other expats) in history that decided to either settle or live in France for long periods of time. Today many follow their example and in this blog post we interview Michael Barrett, an American who is now living in France.

Global Coach Center (GCC): How long have you lived in France and how did you come to live there?

Michael: I’ve lived in France now over four years in a row but longer than that over my lifetime. I lived in Paris as a baby and toddler for three years as my father worked here on assignment. My family always had an interest in France so it influenced my decision to study the language and culture in middle school, high school and then in college. My first trip back to France was with the French club of my high school in 2003. During my sophomore year (2nd year) at the University of Notre Dame, I studied abroad in Angers, France 2004-2005, where I lived with a French family, studied in French, traveled and made friends from all over the world. It motivated me to come back.

I followed that with an internship at Sciences Po Paris in 2006, and then after graduating in 2007, I moved to Lyon to be an English assistant. I met my French girlfriend there, pursued graduate studies in communications in Grenoble for two years, during which I worked at AmCham France. In July 2010 I was hired as a Digital Project Manager at New BBDO Paris, and advertising agency. I’ve been here ever since, and I also manage the site Americanexpatinfrance, write for several websites and am involved with the expatriate community while keeping a close group of French friends. I plan on applying for dual citizenship soon.

GCC: What do you love most about living in France?

Michael: My girlfriend, my French friends, the rich culture and gastronomy and history, the diversity of the regions and their characteristics… close proximity to other European countries. A generally balanced approach to life and work…their healthcare system –although it’s not perfect.

GCC: What frustrates you?

Michael: Generalizations about America and its culture, strikes, lack of convenience here (the US is a culture of convenience)…although I’ve gradually come to accept these cultural differences with the traditional French shrug of the shoulders. Every country has its own pros and cons.

GCC: What would you have liked to know that you didn’t before coming to live in France?

Michael: To know how to (try to) master the inner workings of the French civil service bureaucracy and its paperwork, implicit messages (not explicit) and assumptions that you know everything if you don’t ask a question. But I’ve learned how to manage that, too.

GCC: What are three tips you can give people planning to move to France?

Michael:

Learn the language and about the culture as well, as this will not only enrich you but also show a genuine willingness on your part to the French that you’re making an effort and reaching out.

On a related note, be open-minded. This is not America, and there will be some culture shock and things and approaches that are done differently. They have a different perspective here on many things, so approach it with curiosity and don’t be afraid to have friendly debate with French coworkers and friends (make French friends), as long as it’s not on taboo subjects (money, religion) – those are for closer friends usually.

Take a look at practical matters in detail – education, healthcare, taxes, driving regulations, housing – hopefully your employer or organization can help you with these matters. Better to be well prepared than land here and figure out as you go along. That can add to frustration. I’d be happy to advise on questions or refer you to an expert in a field that I don’t master as well.

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