Expatriation is an adventure in which many want to embark on. Whether for professional or personal reasons, it is often a dream. However, between dream and reality, the border is often thin. There is no better way to represent expatriation in its reality than reading a testimony of one of our collaborators who has taken the leap and came to France.
Hamdi Khadhraoui is 27 years old and comes from Sbeitla, Tunisia’s eastern Centre. He arrived in France in 2018 as an engineer in Instrumentation and Industrial Maintenance. After studying in Tunis, he worked for three years in his home country in the same pharmaceutical field. Subsequently, he chose to emigrate to France. He is now based in Rouen center and works in Val de Reuil. He tells us in this testimony why he chose to go abroad and how this experience went.
How did you come up with the idea of expatriation? What were your motivations for this project ?
My motivations were more professional. In fact, when you work in my field, the idea of expatriation in France comes quite naturally. Indeed, it is important to work in one of the largest pharmaceutical schools in the world. France is also the strictest and most demanding environment in terms of regulations governing pharmaceutical activities. For now, my goal is to gain experience and build a good address book. Afterwards, I would like to set up my own business and be able to share the fruits of my experience.
I also wanted to discover other cultures. And, above all, having a concrete approach to everything I had read about the history of France. I was particularly intrigued by the French Middle Ages and the Revolution.
Was France your first choice ?
Yes, for three obvious reasons. First, because, as I said, this country is a strategic choice for my professional field. Moreover, France is close to Tunisia. This allows me to go home quite often to see my family and friends. It is also closer culturally speaking, considering the common history of the two countries. For example, when I travelled to Shanghai, the cultural contrast was much more pronounced. Finally, I already spoke French when I got here. The institute in which I studied, the INSAT, was a French one. The language barrier was not a problem for me.
How did you experience your expatriation and integration in France ?
My expatriation went quite well overall. Integration was not very difficult. First of all because I spoke French. Also because I had already traveled upstream to several European countries. At that time, I was already quite familiar with the habits and customs of these countries. On the other hand, there are habits that are typically French, and which I was not aware of. For example, shaking hands or kissing each person individually every morning. I wasn’t used to it at all. But overall, I made my mark pretty quickly. Now I really have a life in France. I have several extra-professional activities: I play football with my company’s club, I have registered at a gym and I participate in the associative life of my region when it comes to environmental actions. I also travel to attend seminars on theology, history, cultural diversity… Of course, I still miss Tunisia, especially in the summer when you can enjoy the beautiful beaches…
Cooptalis has accompanied you in your expatriation process. How did this accompaniment go for you ?
Before I knew Cooptalis, I already had plans to move abroad. I was doing research to find a job, but not on a regular basis. As soon as I saw an interesting ad, I applied. Several companies had already accepted me in other countries. The problem is that it takes a long time to get a European work permit. Employers, on the other hand, do not leave the position open until the document is received. That is why the offers I have responded to have not been successful. Thanks to Cooptalis, the process lasted only 5 weeks. The documents were filed on the Lille region, which is not saturated. What I liked about Cooptalis was the personalized support I had when I arrived. I have not been able to find a job in the first two or three months. I don’t even think I’ve had an interview. But I was able to get the support of the Cooptalis teams. It really helped me to hold on and carry out my project.
Finally, a little advice for those who are considering expatriation?
I would say that we should not hesitate to embark on the adventure! Especially for those who want to improve technically and meet other cultures. In short: “Don’t fear failure in great attemps, it is glorious even to fail!”