My greatest worry is ...

Ce qui me préoccupe le plus ...

being able to determine what I really want to do in life and having the resources to do it.

corruption and socialism.

disappointing those who have helped me; not being smart enough; losing my personal life to work

finding a job I like after college. figuring out what I want to do after college. Not doing the right thing now to set me up to do something I like after college.

finding interesting work that isn't all-consuming.

I won't be successful in my career,
I will marry someone who I'm not in love with,
I will be a bad mother when I have children.

my marriage will fall apart

my non-existing French accent and my next big step in life.

not realizing what I want to do with my life until it is too late--or worse, picking the wrong path in life and regretting it for a long time.

not succeeding and becoming an ordinary person in the crowd.

not succeeding in life

not to achieve anything.

not worth worrying about.


that I will not be able to find a suitable wife or a job that will allow me to live a comfortable life without getting bored.

to lose my freedom and live in a world where hatred and lack or rationality are predominant over acceptance and logic.

What am I going to do with my life?

est de réussir mes études en ne décevant aucune personne que j'aime.

est de réussir mes études et, à plus long terme, ma vie.

est mon avenir.




la crise, les gouvernements, les lobbys

la diminution des libertés personnelles aux profits des bénéfices des multinationales, les guerres et l'inégalité croissante.

la restriction des libertés individuelles, la pollution de notre planète, mon avenir

les autres,
ma famille,
mes conditions de travail

ma famille, mes amis et l'argent

mes études,
le sport

mes études.

mon avenir professionnel.

ma future situation sociale.

mon avenir

mon avenir.

mon futur, le retour de l'obscurantisme religieux

obtenir mon diplôme d'ingénieur


Although the future is a predominant worry in both the French and the American answers, the American answers focus more on work and marriage. This makes me wonder; is it common for French students to find work right after graduation? Is success in work something very important to determine one's success in life in France? And how common are divorces?

The French adn the Americans seem preoccupied with their future. Studies and how they will affect their futures are things that worry everyone.

How much do grades matter when you are applying for a job? Is your degree the most important piece of the application?

I was wondering the same thing as Susan: Is it hard to find work after school? Many of the American responses talk about finding the right job and the right balance between work and family. Is that not as relative in France because the French culture is already more balanced than the American culture so they are less worried about finding a job?  

Vous posez un peu tous la même question alors je vais faire une réponse groupée :

En France, à la sortie d'une école d'ingénieur on trouve assez vite un travail (certains ont même des offres avant d'obtenir le diplôme !) mais celà correspond à une formation spécifique. En résumé, si notre école nous forma à un métier qui recrute, on aura un job en sortie, sinon, il faut allonger ses études tout en se professionalisant (études plus stages) pour espérer avoir un emploi à la sortie.

Notre diplôme compte pour environ la moitié de notre demande d'emploi, déjà parce que c'est la première chose que les recruteurs vont voir sur notre CV mais aussi car il détermine généralement notre rémunération. Par contre cela n'est valable que pour le premier emploi, car au dela de ça, les recruteurs regardent plus l'expérience professionnelle.

Les divorces ne sont pas très fréquents, mais ils ne sont non plus inexistants. Ma réponse est courte mais le divorce est accepté par la société mais elle n'en abuse pas.

Je pense que nous faisons déjà une distinction entre travail et vie privée, et que le choix du métier n'influe pas trop cette démarquation (à part certains emplois qui demandent beaucoup de mobilité comme militaire, pilote de ligne, etc...)

Qu'en est il des divorces aux USA ? Et est ce que votre dipôme compte beaucoup pour vos embauches ?

I noticed that the worries on the American side are all individual worries, with 1 real exception.  On the French side, about five people mentioned broader socail and economic issues.  Do the French students worry abou these issues because they are more interested in or involved with politics than the Americans, or do they worry about them because of the effects that, for example, the economic crisis will have on them personally?

I noticed that there weren't really any French responses mentioning figuring out one's purpose in life.  Is this something that doesn't come to mind often; is having a comfortable life a main concern instead?

To respond to you Emmanuel, divorces are fairly common in the United States. In fact, I think the last statistic I heard was that between 10 and 30% of marriages end up in divorce. 

As far as the diploma, an MIT degree gives a lot of students an advantage over other applicants simply because MIT is known as one of the top schools in the country. Still, professional experience is highly valued. 

I agree with Laura's comment about how the French responses are more concerned with larger, global issues than the American responses. Considering other responses in other forums that seem to suggest that French people have a stronger, more cohesive sense of national and cultural identity, is it possible that French people think more about issues that affect the whole community because they value the group more and feel a stronger sense of belonging? On the other hand, Americans, who emphasize individualism more, maybe think more about individual challenges?

Or to propose an alternate hypothesis, maybe the difference is rooted in the different political and economic environments? It seems like the French, relative to the Americans, have a more socialist attitude in the government and towards the economy, while Americans are more about capitalism and every man for himself?

I was also thinking something similar to Anne. Do different economic situations put a differ stress on finding a job? Is there a larger availability of jobs in France?

Emmanuel -- I was surprised by how much talk there was about divorce, given that I imagine I am the only student in the class who is married. Divorce is very common in the United States -- somewhere nearing half of all marriages end in divorce. There are a lot of reasons for this, including divorce-friendly laws and women not being so dependent on men for support.  Long-term marriages don't just happen. Two people really have to care about a marriage for it to last. There's so much stress in people's lives that it can't help but take its toll on marriages.

In the states some people are interested in the same thing there parents do. Sometimes they attend the same college, major in the same thing, or follow a similar career path. Does this happen in France? Is it strange or common for this to happen in France?

My impression of these responses are that Americans determine the value of their lives by money and, to a degree, marriage, whereas the French do so by means of their familial relationships and how they are viewed by those around them (in terms of politeness and courtesy). These are both controlled completely by one's actions, therefore the French have more control over their 'worth' (though I hesitate to use that term specifically). Would anyone care to support or refute that?

Also, we should keep in mind while we discuss diplomas and their effects that, if I understand correctly, education in France is not the same as it is here. I believe the French, at 16, undergo a screening process of sorts, where the most promising students are allowed through to secondary education, whereas the rest go into trade schools according to their relative abilities. Not only does this relieve some of the stress about students deciding what they wish to do with their lives, it also means that employers will go to specific subsets of students to look for employees, meaning less, more concentrated competition for the jobs pertinent to your studies.


I thought the way the answers were phrased on the American and French sides were very interesting. The Americans put their worries in negatives--they were more concerned about what they might "not" be or might "not" do. It also seemed like the Americans came up with much more specific worries (being a bad mother, next big step in life) whereas the French gave lots of general answers (l'avenir, etc.).

Do you think this might be because Americans worry more and are afraid to fail? My hypothesis is that Americans dote on their worries all the time, so they come up with specific cases in their heads that they are always preoccupied with. It's hard to find a way of comparing, but just based on your own opinions, do you think that French people worry less than most people or about the same?


Is Paris known to the French as the place to go to fall in love and get married or is that just for movies? Maybe that's why the French side is not so worried.

I also found it ironic that concerns with wars and the environment only appeared on the French side? Are these major concerns in France?

I think perhaps the reason that our responses are not as society-oriented might be because we are simply more individual-oriented. Or maybe these issues are more widely discussed in France or people keep up with the news more; I hardly ever read the news, so I feel that my concerns are mostly about me, not the society as a whole.

Sumin brought up an interesting point about how we relate to our society's problems through the news. I'm curious about how the French get their news, how important it is to be aware of current events, and what type of news makes it into the headlines.

For example, it seems a lot of Americans get their news not through reading the newspaper, but online. Unfortunately, a lot of popular online news sources seem to ignore larger global issues like the environment and wars, in favor of trivial things (like every detail of Kim Kardashian's life) or at least articles about more personal, day-to-day things (new studies on good diet foods, how popular sports teams are doing, statistics about jobs with the fastest-growing salaries, isolated incidents of crime in local neighborhoods, etc.). I feel like this leads to many people either ignoring the news, or being inundated with news that's centered on individuals instead of society as a whole.

Do French people think about these larger issues because that's what they see in the news all the time? Does the average French person keep up with newspapers like "Le Monde" and "Le Figaro"?

This forum is the most popular so far. I think most people worry about their future and spend more time thinking about this issue than about other things. It's a bit comforting to know you're not the only one who worries - it's pretty much all the same for everyone.

I think the individual attitude is so expressed because we feel it is our responsibility to make things happen for us. We have the ability to be successful, so if we don't reach this success we feel a sort of failure. Overall, I think the American attitude may seem pessimistic, but in reality we are optimists for our future by setting our dreams so high. 

I agree with Meghan, the United States has always been a land of dreams, where anyone can be successful if they just put their minds to it. So the big dreams thing is really important here because we I've in the land of opportunities where it is possible for big dreams to come true.

Kind of going off what Laura said,


The extremely broad social issues that ENSEIRB students said they were most worried about is confusing to me. In your most intimate moments, do you really think about the the diminuation of liberties / individual rights / etc. THE MOST out of everything you are uncertain about (other potential uncertainties being like: grades, jobs, completing obligations, personal success)??


Je suis aussi surpris par les inquiétudes montrées par mes camarades !  En effet, je pense qu'il est diffcile pour nous (d'après notre parcours scolaire) d'être préoccupé par des problèmes comme la diminution des libertés personnelles puisque pour le moment, en tout cas pour moi, ce sont mes études qui m'accaparent le plus mon esprit (et les autres problèmes liés au quotidien). Et même si je suis l'actualité au travers de la télévision et des journaux, j'ai du mal à me sentir impliqué dans des problèmes qui semblent ne pas avoir de conséquences directes pour moi ...