Living In France During #GiletJaunes

France has long been known as the country that strikes. At my school alone, there has been 3 strikes and a 4th happening on Thursday. In French, we call this a grève or a manifestation. Many of my teachers have been apologizing for all of what’s going on but I am taking it all in and reflecting on my place as an American living abroad.

The most recent page in France’s strike history has been happening right before our eyes, although many American news channels are not covering it. Everyday on social media, there is a new picture of notable sites in Paris being burned with angry protestors in the background. This movement known as Gilet Jaunes (Yellow Jackets or Yellow Vests) has gone from a mostly non-violent protest into an ongoing series of violent riots. As of December 1st, 140 people have been arrested and 100 people have been injured. The protests have also spread to nearby countries like Belgium. I recently saw a tweet that said “You had the Arab Spring now welcome to the European Winter.”

The movement started back in mid-November on social media as a response to rising fuel prices and has now morphed into the protestation of other social inequalities in France. They have been setting cars on fire and looting shops making these some of the worst riots Paris has seen since the May 1968 protests. The protests have been mainly happening in Paris but they have also spread to other regions of France, including my town of Belfort to a much lesser extent than what is going on in Paris.

As of now, Emmanuel Macron has suspended raising the fuel tax  but what happens after that? The Gilet Jaunes are steadily adding onto their list of demands and many are set on seeing a real change in the French government. There have been talks of Civil War, the current president stepping down from his office, and an overthrow of the elites in power. As with most movements, political leaders from opposing parties have seen this as an opportunity to gain favor in future elections. What I find to be interesting is that Gilet Jaunes have gained support from both the Far-Right in France as well as the Far-Left.

So what are my thoughts as an American living in France during this time? This is a question that I have gotten from both my students and teachers. I usually answer in the same way by saying I can’t really comment because I don’t know the ins and outs of living under the French bureaucracy (aside from the all paperwork and immigration visits I had to go through to validate my visa).

As a recent Political Science and French graduate, I do feel extra lucky to be experiencing such a pivotal moment in the French political sphere while being cognizant of my place as a visitor. It has been interesting to read articles about what’s going on while also seeing it in action, even in my smaller town of Belfort.

Have you seen the Gilet Jaunes on the news wherever you are? Are you studying abroad during France right now or planning to come for the spring semester? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo,

Kanisha Lucille

Marché de Noël de Colmar

One of my favorite holiday season traditions in France so far are the Marchés de Noël or Christmas Markets in English. Luckily, I live in the region of France that has all of the famous ones. Eastern France has a lot of German influence which means the culture has a traits from each of the two countries.

The first Christmas Market that I visited was the one in Colmar which was voted the 2nd Best Market in all of Europe in 2017! Everyone has been telling me that I HAVE to go visit Colmar so I took a day trip this past weekend. I met up with some other assistants doing TAPIF and we had an amazing time!

 

Colmar is a pedestrian friendly city so all of the markets are accessible by walking. The markets are separated into 6 separate mini villages and each have different artisan vendors, food dessert, and other crafts for sale. There’s also A LOT of gingerbread products for sale.  My personal favorite was La Petite Venise! As the name suggests, it is resembled the Italian city of Venice.

 

Another one of my favorite markets was Place de l’Ancienne Douane. It’s located right in the middle of the city and is surrounded by a bunch of cute chalets arranged around a fountain. There’s also an indoor Christmas Market here so if you get too cold, you can warm up inside!

Depending on the language, Vin Chaud/Mulled Wine/Glühwein is a holiday favorite for people going to the markets. They sell them in cups for about 2 euros and if you pay an extra euro, you get a souvenir cup that also will allow you to get refills. To me, it tastes like a hot Sangria. Would I drink it again? Probably. Did I absolutely LOVE it? Not exactly.

 

This town looks exactly like a Fairy Tale during Christmas. All of the buildings were decorated with lights so when it got dark, it was absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, the magic didn’t show up too well in photos. If you ever find yourself in Eastern France or Germany during the Holiday Season, you must go to a Christmas Market to experience it in person.

 

Thank you so much for reading and let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been to a Christmas Market in Europe!

Xoxo,

Kanisha Lucille

I’M MOVING TO FRANCE | TAPIF

For years and years, I’ve been talking about moving to France and one sunny Monday afternoon that dream slowly started to turn into a reality.

Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) is a program sponsored by the French Ministry of National Education that brings Americans over to assist in English classrooms. I first learned about TAPIF as a junior in high school after googling: “Things you can do with a French major.” TAPIF sounded like my dream job, I mean, who doesn’t want to be paid to live in France for 7 months? Even though I didn’t end up pursing a major in French, I still knew that one day I wanted to do this program so I applied during my last year of college.

I worked and stressed for months over my application and then anxiously waited for months until decisions came out. Eventually, after being waitlisted for a month I received my placement! I was just about to take a nap since I had been up since 6 AM for my early morning French Phonetics exam earlier that day when I got an email from the Embassy and absolutely FREAKED out.

by the beach

Besançon wasn’t on my preference list but I’m so excited to live somewhere new and learn all I can about the city’s history and culture. I wanted to be placed somewhere that was somewhat close to Paris (I’ll be a two and a half hour train ride away) but still small enough to where I wouldn’t be surrounded by English speakers. Even though I’ll be there as an English teaching assistant, I really want to work on my French and hopefully reach a higher level of fluency!

I know I just said the word excited but I truly am so EXCITED to start this journey and to blog all of it!

Until the next post,

Kanisha Lucille