So I'm 22, going on 23. I graduated one year ago, after a normal time period of four years at college. Then, it was time for me to go out into the world and make something of myself.
And no one, (almost) no one in France understands what the hell I am doing.
"What university are you in?" a teacher at school asked me the other day. I quickly realized she had just assumed I was enrolled in a French university. "Did I tell you I was taking classes here?" I asked her. "No, I just thought you were."
I introduced myself to the secretary at my new office. "I'll be working here a couple days a week," I said. "Oh, you're an intern?" "No. I'll be WORKING here a couple days each week."
And on and on. I am constantly being asked these questions. How is it possible that I have already finished school? Am I sure I finished school? So I'm doing a teaching internship? Does my job pay me? How old am I again? Wait, I work to make my own money? Huh?
I will make a broad sweeping generalization here, and say that French people stay in college until they are about 25-27 years old, then live off their parents at least as long. So it's natural for them to assume everyone else in the world does, too. I try really hard to understand this culture, I really do. But I am contantly annoyed that the French are tagging me as something I'm not, then giving me the impression that they think I am worth less than I really am.
Why does a 22-year-old have to be in school? Is she not allowed to work alongside her superiors? Will going to school for three more years give her that right? Is she is not capable of working to support herself?
Well I am capable, France. And so are plenty of my American friends. I'm not the only one. I came to your country to understand your culture. Now open your ears and listen to mine. I am not a student. I am not an intern. Mom and dad do not pay my rent and feed me. I am a 22-year-old adult. Can you handle that?
Sadly, I think the answer is no. So I'll just keep getting annoyed by this. The question will come again in the next couple of days. So what university do you go to? grrrrr stop asking me!