Saturday, August 22, 2009

Summer recap

Yesterday was my last day of work. The two months went really quickly, and I actually feel a bit sad that it's come to an end. It was a great experience! Now in hindsight, I can safely say that I'm glad that British Airways cancelled my return tickets. Lol, in fact by not going home this vacation, I got valuable work experience in an international organisation, met new people, and of course improved my French. As for the ticket cancellation, that also worked out! A few weeks ago, British Airways refunded my mom the amount of the cancelled ticket.

Homesick? Nahh. It's a question people usually ask me and perhaps my response surprises them. It's been a little over 11 months since I've been here. Well, it's a bit hard to be homesick when you have a mom who sends daily emails to keep me up to date. Plus just being abroad is exciting in itself.

Current plans? None really lol... ok to be honest plans are a bit vague. Well a few days in Lyon from this weekend as usual, and then once I return to Savoie, I have quite a few things to sort out... such as cleaning my apartment, registering at the university, and visiting the Préfecture (not the most exciting activity on the list, but I can only hope that things go smoothly and quickly!).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hottest day of the year?

Yes (according to the media) and very hot indeed!! Like an oven, seriously!

Random stuff:

Today - because of the heat and mountains - the driving speed limit in Grenoble was reduced by 20 km to prevent pollution.

Normallly the trains between Grenoble and Chambéry are composed of several voitures. This evening, I was shocked when they sent a train with only une voiture!... my first thought was "euhh, how is everyone going to fit in this?" Fortunately I got a seat... but unfortunately and ironically on the supposedly hottest day of the year, there wasn't any air-conditionning! ... ahh, a window was opened, but that wasn't much help.

Who's ready for autumn?! :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Random observations

A real post, well sort of lol! Well, a few days ago on the train home, I decided not to sleep (usually this is quite a challenge lol), but instead to jot a list of things I've noticed here in France. My observations, not meant to be generalisations. Voilà la liste :

  • Summer (work) fashion : Women --> colourful clothing, thin strap tops, flip flops, sundresses, short pants, short skirts ... yes, to go to work! Men --> Jeans are pretty much standard, but I've even seen some men in knee-length pants and sandals ... and well there's also the capri, ugh!

  • More fashion comments : In winter, it seemed as though almost everyone here dressed in black, or maybe brown or grey. It's quite common to see people going to work in jeans, t-shirt or shirt, sneakers or a nice pair of shoes. Shirt and jeans ... well no surprise if your boss dresses like that. Shirt, jacket, tie for the men? Huh, what's that? The dresscode is so casual that I've not felt the need to buy an iron since I've been here lol.

  • Recently there was something on TV about police in the south of France handing out free t-shirts (labelled "Souriez vous êtes à ____") to men walking around the town (not the beach) torse nu. Lol.

  • Tu or Vous? Well, this is still a bit confusing to me. From what I've gathered, use tu with your colleagues in the office, apparently regardless of age, and use vous with someone on a higher hierarchical level (e.g. the boss, although it may be possible to tutoyer the boss, etc. In this case, it's better to wait for him/her to suggest the change in register. "On se tutoie?" or something to that effect).

  • First name basis in the workplace with coworkers (maybe zee boss as well). No Mr or Mrs So-and-so lol.

  • Apparently, bureaucracy in France not only irritates foreigners, but can also irritate French people.

  • Why is Grenoble sooo ridiculously hot? Answer: Because of the surrounding mountains. Grenoble is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. Ok, end of complaint lol.

  • Lunch time essentials: entrée, plat chaud, dessert, pain, eau. Desserts include yogurt, compote (i.e. stewed fruits/yummy baby food?), pies, cheese, cream dessert, etc.

  • After-lunch: a nice time to continue chatting with co-workers over a coffee/hot chocolate/cigarette. A lot of people smoke; Actually, as a non-smoker, being in France has made me a lot more tolerant/perhaps even indifferent to whether people smoke or not. (ok, although this indifference does not apply to my former students - like 14 years old - who were taking a smoke before and after school right next to the schools).

  • There seem to hardly be any women who overdo their makeup, if they're wearing any at all. Natural look, nice.

  • Everyday there are lots of people who run/speed up in order to catch their bus. I've done this on numerous occasions lol. Do bus drivers ever secretly chuckle?

  • Sign in a Grenoble bus: small dogs can travel for free, but large dogs must have a titre de transport. Wow, imagine a doggie bus pass.

  • Les Soldes are great! I did more shopping in July than in January, but still didn't buy anything much.

  • Playing a computer game online in French with other players who communicate in French, can be deemed "educational" for a non-native speaker like myself ^^. Yes, that's me trying to justify my recent game-playing.

  • Apparently, a camping is quite a popular destination for French people over the summer. Think of a caravan site with activities for the family, etc.

  • Maintaining a cell phone can be expensive and it helps to beware of rip-offs. For example, 6 EUR per month for about 20 TV channels on your mobile/cell phone ... where's the catch? Well, after losing 27 EUR in about 15 minutes thanks to this "lovely" service from Orange, I called customer service and cancelled it. Ahh, they didn't mention the Internet fees in the ad.

  • Unfortunate/bad things happen. For example, a few weeks ago someone stole the basket from my rented bicycle which was parked right outside the Vélostation at the train station. In addition, someone decided to attach their bike next to mine, essentially making it impossible for me to get my bike. This incident cost be 20 EUR *grr* ... 10 to take a taxi home since buses stopped running, and 10 to buy/rent another basket to replace the one I rented with the bike. I've not been keen on using my bike ever since. Another incident took place today. Well, last night an individual/individuals threw stones at the glass in the front of my apartment building (logement de fonction next to the collège ... guess they dislike the school??), which has resulted in two holes in a now large cracked pane of glass which can fall at any moment. In addition, the individual(s) also broke the back windscreen of my neighbour's car.

  • Precocious children. For example, a boy around 6 years old gave a correct, detailled enough explanation of "how babies are made" on Attention à la marche (a TV game show) a Saturday morning around midday. This explanation was given just before la Question coquine. Lol, well any children who had any doubts got their answer! (If I remember correctly, the question coquine that day was "Out of 100 parents, how many have already sent their children out to play in order to have some adult fun?". Lol)
Et c'est tout pour l'instant!