The Elephant in the Room

Connor Hickle
January 2, 2019

Okay, let’s just go ahead and address the huge elephant in the room, and probably a reason some might be hesitant to study abroad in France. Protests.

The idea of the protest is as old as democracy itself, and being a red-blooded American, I’m all for a good protest. If you don’t like how things are going or don’t agree with a decision, speak up about it. Stand up for what you believe in, for better or for worse. Whether effective or not, and whether you agree with the principle or not, protests are part of effective democracy.

The recent yellow vest protests in France have garnered national attention, and for good reason. Parts of the protests in Paris have caused damage to stores, public and private property, and even to individuals participating in the protests. But, there is a lot more to it than that.

First off, most of the protestors causing real trouble are not truly for the spirit of the yellow vest movement, but rather taking advantage of the situation to engage in criminal activity. How do I know this? Take Nice as the perfect example. Just like Paris, Nice has had yellow vest protests and strikes in general. The reason that it doesn’t make international news the same way is because the protests have been pure. Pure in the sense that everyone involved is protesting because they genuinely want change. In Nice, there has been no looting, no burning of cars, no violence, and no real hindrance to the pace of life resulting from the protests. When the protests are done for the right reason, it’s democracy in action.

You also have to consider the strikes and protests in the context of life in France. For the country, these demonstrations are normal (the peaceful ones anyways). Striking and protesting is a part of life that the French embrace, and it contributes to an overall sense of solidarity in the country. That is one part of France I envy; when there is a genuine grievance, the people band together and voice their opinion. For someone living in the U.S. this may be hard to understand, but you also have to remember this country started on the back of a protest, a la Boston Tea Party.

So to those of you hesitant to study in France because of the protests, I assure you Nice is plenty safe, and life is sweet. And before you start knocking the French, remember where we as a country came from. Remember that voicing your opinion, whether you agree with how it’s done or not, is part of democracy.

Until next time,


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Connor Hickle

<p>I am 21 years old, a rising senior at Wofford College, and I am pursuing a B.A. in Finance. My interests include cars, motorcycles (pretty much anything with wheels), and sports. I pass my free time by hanging out with family and friends, going to the movies, working out, and watching Netflix. A weird fact about me is that I enjoy philosophical discussions.</p>

2018 Fall
Home University:
Wofford College
Simpsonville, SC
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