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A Santiago in Paris: “Dreams announce that another reality is possible”

Santiagueña Carla Arias Raed settled in France. In an interview, he tells us what it's like to live in that country and adapt to a new world where you look at it.

Argentines around the world
argentina en París

 Carla Arias Raed  is santiagueña and is 32 years old. The first time he left home was at age 17, when he finished high school at La Asunción school in Santiago del Estero. From that moment, he took his bags to settle in Tucumán and begin his law studies at the National University of Tucumán. He graduated at the age of 23 and continued on the path of knowledge, especially in the area of Human Rights and Public Policy. He worked in legal studies and participated in the CEDJUS Foundation (Center for Studies in Democracy, Justice and Security). She also ventured into teaching as a teacher at a school in the capital of Tucumana.

In an interview that  Ser Argentino agreed, Carla told us what it is like to live in France, her experiences since she arrived in that country, about how she is able to adapt to the culture and customs of that place, a new world where you look at it. Every place you visit leaves a bit of it, its Argentinian side, for example it contagies those who know the desire to have a rich mate, enjoy a rich roast and taste a tasty dulce de leche.

 What prompted her to leave Santiago del Estero and arrive in France?  

When I was 25, traveling as a backpacker in Latin America, I discovered a passion for travel, so much so in 2017, I left my whole life on pause, for the first time, to travel to Colombia, Cartagena de Indias, and do a social volunteer, literate children in a school in one of the most popular areas. most vulnerable in the city. That experience was really transformative and changed my life completely. My students were actually my best teachers. I chose and decided to work for education in a hit Latin America, but still standing, because it allowed me to dream of a better world for them, and I feel that I planted dreams in them, and I think dreams announce that another reality is possible.

Since I was very young I was involved in all kinds of social actions and volunteered through NGOs and foundations. Solidarity moves my life, makes sense, and makes me completely happy to be able to help, even if it is a little bit to change the reality of people who need it most. For me the love returned in the form of hugs and kisses as a reward is immeasurable. For example, in Tucumán I was part of the Social Fridge Project and the group “Despertando Corazoncitos”.

In 2018 I traveled to Europe for the first time, visited 11 countries in two months; returned to Argentina eager to return for a long time and settle for a couple of months as a tourist. So the idea of leaving everything again began to go around in my head and move to a new country, to a new continent, with a different language and making the decision to do it alone. Personally, I wanted to live new experiences.

I cannot say that I lived badly in my country because it is not the case, but I can say that here I gained better quality of life, stability and security. The latter is unpayable. This for me is called welfare, and I don't change it for anything.


 How long have you been living in France?  

I arrived in France on a work visa, specifically to Nice, in May 2019, at the beginning of the summer season. In a few days it'll be a year and a half that I'm living here. Today looking back I celebrate what we lived. I came with nothing, like most of my friends, no home, no job.

I threw myself into the biggest and most unknown challenge, of leaving everything, with the kind of crazy but absolute certainty that everything would be fine because this was what I really wanted. It is not easy to start from scratch by being a foreigner in a country, but you have to have the courage and courage to try it if you really want it.

I can say that I bet all my chips on this new present and the extraordinary adventure of the new beginnings. With the good and bad of living this kind of experience thousands of miles from home, from my family and friends, from my country.


 What are you currently doing?  

I now end the summer season in Nice and moved to Paris where I currently live with my French boyfriend, right now I'm newly installed in the city, knowing what is my new home, in the midst of a current pandemic context.


 We understand that you have worked in the tourism sector, what can you tell us about your experience?  

All my work was always related to the tourism and gastronomic sector. It is the area that allows faster employment when you are a foreigner, whether to work in the kitchen, cleaning or service.

I worked as a waitress in a restaurant, in the summer season in Nice, and then in two international chain hotels, one in Nice and the other in the French Alps. Also, for a few months I worked as a hotel maid. I can say that it is a sector where you work hard, many hours, even on holidays. The work is really intense, especially in the peak times of the summer or winter season, serving more than 500 people per day on long working days. One has to be flexible and adapt to the pace of work, and over the months you begin to know a little more about the reality of work and to choose as far as possible what jobs to do. In this line, what I can highlight is the salary, which allows to live well, in my case, also had the extra income of the weekly tips and the payment of the overtime performed.

All the jobs I did helped me and taught me new skills, taught me more about myself and my abilities. Like everywhere, you have to strive, work responsibly and be patient. The good thing is that with desire to progress, there are chances of growth, and the reward is the added value that your salary is really worth. That gives you immense tranquility. In addition, I can say with knowledge of the cause, that the Argentine works hard, clutches everything he does, is intelligent, spontaneous and pragmatic, always looking for solutions and always has a plus to bring from a smile to solidarity in critical moments, and that here, in most of the cases, is highly valued by employers.


 Clash of cultures 

Since I arrived, I began to notice cultural differences, beginning clearly with the language which is a great cultural barrier especially at first. I consider both cultures unique, diverse and rich.

One of the first differences is the French character, it is more serious and discreet compared to that of the Argentine. At first they are distant and not so sociable. For a foreigner it is not easy to meet a Frenchman, because they find it hard to open up to the first, but once they do, you start to discover more about them and about their culture. In France there is the saying “it is hard to enter the house of a Frenchman, but once you have entered his doors they will be open for life.”

True, they are less friends than us, they have their narrow circle of friends, the rest are only acquaintances or co-workers, very different from us because, where we go, we make friends. If this is the first time they see you, they treat you and there are no kisses. But when they come into confidence the rule in this country is two kisses, and in some regions up to 4!

Punctuality for the French is very important, they are also very organized. For most things it has to be with rendez-vous or prior appointment, either for the doctor, public administration, hairdresser, restaurants and even plans with friends. They don't have incorporated spontaneity like us. On the other hand, they are very educated and diplomats, and have a thousand different ways of thanking, and phrases made to repeat on different occasions by education.

 French gastronomy 

Its gastronomy is very good and very varied. In France they attach great importance to the origin of food, prefer organic BIO products. They also appreciate the taste and delight for the food and the time it took to do it, which can be extended by hours.

With regard to customs and what is still hard for me to adapt is the aperitif, which starts at 6 in the afternoon and for me it is the time to mate. Therefore, they have early dinner type 19 or 20, not like in Santiago that at that time we are just having our snack.

As for the language, French did not like English too much. Older people especially did not know the language and there was some favouritism because of their own language, while the Argentine knew how to work in that language.

 Because of the pandemic, what is life like in that place?  

The pandemic hit the world and completely changed it. France was not and is not the exception. At the moment we are going through the second wave of coronavirus, a situation that was already assumed by the French government, and at the beginning of the summer it was believed that the pandemic was controlled. Holidays, with the movement of domestic tourism generated that the number of infections increase exponentially again and more sharply.

At present, a curfew was available, for now nocturnal, which will run until the end of November, and the possibility of at least partial or zonal further confinement is not ruled out if the situation continues to worsen. The government is trying by all means to slow the advance of the virus but without great success, because it is something new and there is no record.

As far as possible, teleworking continues to the extent possible and in the event of dismissals or work suspensions since the beginning of the pandemic, unemployment insurance is being applied to all workers with a labour contract. The French State contributes to funding amounting to 84 per cent of the salary.

The tourism and gastronomic sector are the most affected. Bars and clubs are closed. Restaurants work mid-capacity with security measures. Mass public events are also suspended. International tourism is practically zero. The most emblematic areas of Paris have been almost empty of tourists for 8 months. You haven't seen anything like that since the Second World War happened.


 Are you planning to return to your native Santiago?  

Not in the short term, because I already started to travel my life here and I really have plans for the future. My intention is to be able to start university, first study French (a high level is required for higher education) and then be able to pursue a master's degree in my profession in the area of Public Law.

Finally, I want to comment that, when I arrived in France, I shared a lot of time with Argentine friends, so the Argentine customs continued here, now with my boyfriend who is French I am knowing much more about his culture and customs and he is really wonderful, and he, in turn, is discovering a new world with Spanish and my traditions, even in a few months he became a fan of mate, dulce de leche and even Argentine choripán.

Publication Date: 19/05/2021

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