Is it possible to have culture shock going into your fourth month studying abroad? Well for me, the answer is yes, 100%. This last month I have been learning and becoming more knowledgeable about the vast differences between the cultural systems and issues in place here in France. With this new knowledge it has made me analyze real cultural and global interrelationships in the country, but, has also made me realize the importance of context-appropriate actions to address global and cultural issues.
Starting last month France has been going through a series of strikes dealing with the national train service; SNCF, Air France, and Universities located across the country. France’s wave of strikes along the railway are in response to Emmanuel Macron’s labor reforms, which takes away some of the benefits when working for SNCF. The action is spreading over the span of three months, affecting two days in every five. Air France employees are demanding an increase in pay, and are partaking in industrial action to enact change. Students across the country are taking part of these strikes aswell to protest university acceptance, and the ability to work afterwards. Each of these major strikes are dealing with very different complex issues, but have one goal of obtaining national attention to have their voices heard, and history changed.
If I was in the United States I probably wouldn’t know what’s going in France right now, but because I am experiencing and witnessing social unrest first-hand it changes your perspective and you develop this culture shock to the history happening right before your eyes. Witnessing these protests, and trying to understand why some things are happening in France is difficult and uncomfortable, but it has made me realize the importance of self-awareness and willingness to understand the deep issues that lie within the French system. The French citizens are taking action to accomplish sustainable development across the country. It may be inconvenient for someone like me who is only studying abroad, but I’ve realized the strikes are much bigger than me living in a different country for five months. It is overwhelming to say the least, but also extremely fascinating at the same time.