In January 2019, Learnship launched the Culture Change intercultural program, dedicated to expatriates and their families. The program compliments language training, making it possible to discover the culture of a country and to prepare effectively for cultural shock. At Learnship, intercultural understanding is particularly important aspect of daily operations, as our employees are based in Germany, France, Switzerland and the United States. We welcome employees of all nationalities, many of whom have expatriation experience.
We spoke with the head of Learnship France’s pedagogical and administrative team Jovita Habert. Her role is to ensure the success of all training, from registration to final certification. Her team is in charge of all administrative aspects of the trainings, while working closely with the Program Managers. Course launches, attendance, management of administrative documents and many more.
Can you tell us about your personal background?
I come from Lithuania. My mother is Lithuanian, and my father is Polish. At home, we spoke every language. Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union for 50 years: our neighbors spoke Russian, our friends too, our family too. I arrived in France in 2004, after graduating from high school. I completed most of my studies in France at the Nouvelle-Sorbonne. I worked as a hostess for 5 years, then took a position as a training assistant in an IT training center. I then worked at the ESSEC school’s administrative department – then at HEC as an admissions assistant. I eventually started working at Learnship in October 2016.
How long did it take you to adapt to French culture?
When I arrived in France, I made the mistake of meeting only Lithuanians. For two years, I did not really try to mix with the locals. In the end, it took me a total of three years to adapt to French culture. When settling in France, I was not prepared at all. I arrived with two friends; I knew nothing about France, and I did not speak French – I only had very basic notions. So I had to take language classes parallel to my studies.
What challenges did you face when moving to France?
Finding a job or friends while busy mastering the language was a true hurdle to overcome. Administration and bureaucracy were also a real headache. I had poor knowledge of my rights as a European citizen. It is very important to familiarize oneself with the administrative aspects of expatriation: housing, banking, working documents […] The gravity of the culture shock was also unexpected, be it working hours, differences in clothing or just how to greet people. If discovering French gastronomy was a pleasure, the ignorance and the clichés pertaining to the countries of the East were a shock!
What are the advantages of living abroad?
The first is obviously discovering a new culture! It is very rewarding to open oneself up to the world, and very interesting to experience other people and other mentalities. I come from a small town of 4,000 inhabitants, so traveling has really been an unmissable opportunity. In addition, I now speak 5 languages: English, Lithuanian, Russian, Polish and French. My languages help me communicating effectively within Learnship, which is an international organization.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to relocate?
It’s smoother transition when you learn about the country and its culture beforehand. Intercultural training is an effective way to do this. It is also possible to do internet research, visit forums […], any and all information is useful and valuable to take with you on your journey.