Alice Tan, vice-president of Fondacio has just spent a few months in France to learn French, I met her just before her return to Asia.
Hello Alice. You are about to return to Asia after four months in France. Do you think this trip changed your perspective on Europe?
Hello Sabine. Thanks for meeting me! First of all, it helped me better understand how people live and how they interact. But I also understand their concerns a lot more, what are the things that affect them. I noticed that people in France are very focused on what they have to do, they usually have a clear idea of what they want for their life, for their family.
I think what made me the happiest was that I was able to make friends with people, families, not in a superficial way but in a very deep way.
It opened my eyes to the fact that it’s a very different context, the way people interact with each other is very different in Asia. It helped me a lot to understand why people react in a certain way, it’s very important for me because we live in a really different world and sometimes coming from foreign backgrounds, we don’t always understand why people speak a certain way or why they don’t say that or why they say it that way. Therefore, now that I have come to France, I understand the reality.
I said to myself ” Yes, this is the spirit of the culture of this particular country, of this way of life and it has helped me to receive even more now even when I have met new people . “I’m very relational, I want to build relationships, they don’t build relationships the way I do. I wondered why, but now I think it doesn’t matter anymore. I am in relation as I am and the person will also be in relation in his own way. And that’s what’s great about relationships. Coming to France really helped me to cross these kinds of borders.
What will you miss the most in France?
I think I will miss the diversity of nature very much, I love nature here. I can now see how flowers can grow even in autumn and winter. I took many photos!
What was the most interesting thing you learned during your trip?
The most interesting thing? … I think it’s how to relate to people in a new way. I have met such good friends. Especially the family I stayed with during my stay in Angers: Les Crevier, I will miss them a lot! I lived with them for four months. They were extremely nice, accommodating, I felt very comfortable when I was with them. Even the three children, who are very young, had wisdom despite their age. They were very sensitive to me as a person.
I will also miss the “Pains au Chocolat”. I liked all the fruit you can buy in France and the salads. They are very different from those you can find in Asia. I also liked to eat cheese, tasting all kinds of cheese was very nice.
What’s your favorite phrase you’ve learned in French?
Aaah! I have two! “What luck!” and that’s a shame! “. I really like to use “How lucky!”.
Do you bring back souvenirs?
Yes! Lavender soap smells great! And a basic knowledge of French!
What were you nervous about before coming to France?
Nothing at all !
Were you able to visit other European countries during your stay?
I went on vacation with my family to Portugal. And I also spent two days in London. I went to Benin, which is not in Europe, for the council meeting. It was a very good experience even if it was not my first time in Africa! I went to Togo in 2016 for the launch of New Com!
Did you learn anything about yourself being in France?
I’ve learned that I’m too serious and can be more relaxed.
What has been your favorite part of the country?
Meet people and have longer lasting relationships with people! Friends become your family.
What did you miss the most in Asia?
I had such an exciting time here that I didn’t have time to miss Asia, maybe my family, but they came to Portugal with me so it wasn’t that difficult. It was not planned at all! My mother came to visit my brother in Dubai and my brother decided to visit Portugal for Christmas and they asked me if I wanted to come and I said yes! I missed food a bit, but I was able to cook!
What was difficult when you arrived?
Maybe learn how to dress when it’s cold. It is very complicated to know what is warm enough, you have to be comfortable in your clothes and not be too hot or too cold. I had to ask Anne to lend me a warmer coat and scarf because I was too cold. And sometimes it was very cold in the morning but then it was warmer during the day. Sometimes in restaurants and buildings the heating is too high! How awful!
Thank you Alice!