Leaving school’s daunting enough, never mind throwing the unknown ‘World of Work’ into the mix. Read Will's journey to ...
From Frog's Legs to Roast Beef - My Trials & Tribulations So far!
25 March 2020
A personal and humorous view of different cultures
In the Summer of 2017, I came to Fortus for a two month internship with the Corporate Finance team, after having chased thousands of people on LinkedIn to seek something ‘interesting’.
Mark Standish – Head of Corporate Finance, offered me the best internship I could’ve hoped for. My time here gave me endless amounts of material to use for my final year report, and this really made me wonder about what I’d do after my three year ‘accounting-finance-management’ studies in Versailles (this is the best description I can give for the DCG Qualification).
I had two options: going to a Business School or following the accounting path and studying for four more years to become a French Chartered Accountant through a Doctorate. Fortus however, offered me a third and better option: gain practical and wider experience within the world of Corporate Finance, a sector that highly interests me, whilst studying for my ACA – a worldwide recognised qualification, which isn’t the case for the French version.
When I moved to the UK, I didn’t realise how different our countries were. Obviously we’re neighbours, both Europeans (at the moment) and our cultures aren’t that different. We share the same history as quite often we fight against each other (I’ll stay humble and not quote our history books regarding the obvious winner). BUT, England’s the only country I’ve ever been to, where the clichés are actually real.
First week, first challenge: Making tea.
On my first attempt, I forgot the tea bag in the cup. On the second attempt, one of my teammates went back to the kitchen to prepare another cup (yes, Mark I saw you!) Too milky, not enough milk, too sweet, not enough sugar…When I thought I’d understood, it went to the next level: The sweetness! And the terrible question: Do you pour the milk before or after the water?
I didn’t like tea before, but now I hate it (with an H, not “ate”. Thank Goodness this is a written blog…) But, I’m proud to say that some of you are now part of the hot chocolate team!
Talking about tea, you also have strange expressions: “It’s not my cup of tea”, “Raining cats and dogs” (honestly where does this come from?) and the very upsetting “Pardon my French”! What?! What do you mean! No, I don’t pardon you. As I don’t pardon you to torture our Saint Camembert by baking it: That makes me so angry! (without an H, not “hangry”. You know what I mean…) And your portions; they’re huge! Eating seems to be a continuous occupation – almost a sport!
Sense of humour
English people in general also have a very strange sense of humour, and a strong talent to say rude things in a polite way, implying that not only do foreign people need to learn English but also the real meaning of each word:
Moving forward (I don’t care),
Having said that (you’re wrong),
As per my previous email (did you read what I sent?),
And the mythic ‘kind regards’ (leave me alone).
Do you have ‘french doors’?
It’s sometimes very frustrating not having the words to express what you really think; even worse when you need to ask someone to repeat something not only once, but twice. It’s incredibly hard for the ego and credibility. So, if I look slightly vacant when you tell me something, it’s either because I need a few seconds to translate, because you “mince your words” or, because you don’t speak English. Or maybe a little bit of both?
You aren’t simple to understand. Why do you call your Patio Doors “French Doors”? Your hairstyle a “French bun”? I know you don’t like learning languages, but please, could you make an effort to explore phrases other than the super famous and annoying one that derives from the movie Moulin Rouge.
You already use more French words than you think actually: “Bon appétit, bon voyage, cliché, souvenir…”And YES, ‘entrepreneur’ is French! One thing’s very simple though: your names! 90% of the male population in the UK’s called James, Chris or Mark. The last 10% sound exotic and extremely hard to remember.
The very first day I arrived, I bought a car, parked in the city centre and got a parking ticket. It was the first one of a very long list…
I also experienced the NHS, with a funny paramedic who simply didn’t want to use my name (when I go to Starbucks my name’s ‘Alice’, it looks better on the cup).
You have a strange keyboard, and the fact you have credit and debit cards, while we only have debit cards but we call them credit cards…confusing isn’t it?
At the end of the day, I’m one of the least patriotic of the French patriots: I sang ‘God Save The Queen’ for the very first time during Remembrance Day, and trust me this is a very odd feeling.
I remember the faces of my teachers, friends and family when I told them my future choice. I can say it today, and it couldn’t be truer: Fortus changed my life. I could write thousands of anecdotes but that doesn’t matter because when I arrived, I came to the office feeling safe and welcome.
Working with the Corporate Finance team’s a day-to-day challenge, but it’s also turning into an amazing passion of mine. I must admit one thing though: I now prefer Prosecco to Champagne (but please, don’t tell anyone)!
A humorous look at the differences between French and British cultures to make you smile during the turmoil and chaos.
Fanny remains an important member of the Fortus family working alongside Mark and Patrick and entertaining us with her colloquialisms on a daily basis!