Sunday, September 25, 2011

An American in Laval

After finishing up a fantastic summer at Mozilla, I hopped on board a plane to France to begin my 3 month odyssey abroad.  I was still exhausted from the all hands meeting at Mozilla.  I woke up at 4am to catch the shuttle to the airport, with a layover in Philly, followed by an hour shuttle from Charles de Gaulle to the train station at Montparnasse, followed by a 2 hour train ride to Laval, finally to arrive at my destination at about noon the following day.  I think I am just finally catching up on sleep now.

I have been in France for almost a week, and I've been overwhelmed by my reception.  The people here have been uniformly friendly, and have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome.  The town of Laval is lovely, and the food has been delicious.

The Saturday market in Laval was overwhelming.  In California, we have farmer's markets, but these are pitifully small compared to Laval.  There was fresh-baked bread, giant tubs of paella, seafood so fresh that it was literally trying to escape, and produce that has to be seen to be believed.  I think the produce section alone would be equivalent to 3 or 4 farmer's markets back home.  I think I will enjoy my time here.

So far, the biggest difference that I have noticed is that there is a sharp divide between work and play.  In the states, we buy huge cups of coffee and take them to go so that we can go back to work.  Half the time, 'work' might consist of Facebook and Farmville, but the pressure to be at our desks is very strong.

In France, cups of coffee are small, and no one gets them to go.  You sit and chat with friends, and when you are finished, you go back to work.  And then you work.  I'm not sure who comes out ahead in terms of production, but I am gaining an appreciation for the French approach.

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