21 November 2007

For the love of God!!!

Last night my digital camera broke too.

I feel like I'm cursed.

20 November 2007

Ya know, it would be nice if just one thing could go right

Baah! My computer is dead. Totally dead.

16 November 2007

Foux de Fa Fa

Whenever things get too French for my liking, I now just say "Foux du fa fa fa" and everything turns out fine. Like yesterday when I foolishly decided to take the Métro to the pool during the transit strike. My stop is the first on the line, so I didn't really appreciate how bad it would get (but it got very bad). People were having shouting matches and fist-fights trying to get on the train basically the entire way there (foux de fa fa). On the way back I had to wait 50 minutes for a train to come (foux du fa fa fa), and when it did come, it was impossible to get on (foux de fa fa). So I ended up walking home for almost two hours (foux du fa fa fa).

14 November 2007

The Unglamorous Life of an Exile

Now I know what you're thinking; What could me more glamorous than cocktail receptions at UNESCO? Or pastries with gold leaf for breakfast? Or an intimate tête-à-tête with Linda Evangelista?

While those things do have all the Max Factor blingyness that I was expecting from Paris, let me start off by saying that the UNESCO headquarters building is such a hideous concrete monstrosity that it makes a Soviet polytechnic university in Albania look like a Loire château! Drop-tile ceilings with panels missing, water-damaged walls, blinding fluorescent lighting like a high-school cafeteria. Ugh! How can people working a building so hideous and banal make any kind of decisions about culture and heritage? At this rate we might as well house the United Nations in an airplane hanger too. UNESCO headquarters building, you are officially: Dead to Me!

Hideous modernist eyesores aside, my problems in Paris have been twofold. First, it's been much harder to make friends than I'd expected. French people generally tend to be reserved, so it's to be expected that it will take time. I was surprised, however, that the school does nothing for new students to meet each other. No frosh week or pub night, nothing. Doubly surprising since they make such a big deal about how 50% of the student body comes from other countries - yet everyone is left to fend for themselves. I'm starting to get to know people now, but for the most part its still just a 'say hi in the hallways' kind of friendship. It's hard being so far from the people you care about.

The second problem is the school itself. Although my school, ESIT, is regarded as one of the best translations schools in Europe (if not in the world), I have been rather shocked by the caliber of things so far. Teachers often cancel class or show up late. When professors do turn up, they often don't teach the subject, go off on tangents, contradict themselves, or each other. Staff are not able or not available to answer student questions, or don't know what's going on. And, most surprisingly, there is no schoolwork - just a final exam worth 100% of your mark! (WTF?) Also, in third year you have to write a thesis, which is something that I wanted to avoid at all costs and immediately discounted any school where this was a requirement (lucky for me ESIT failed to mention this small detail anywhere on their literature!).

I know now most of these things to be typical of French universities. Since it's practically free to go, they don't have any money to do anything properly, nor do they care. A rude awakening to be sure.

A further problem with the school is that I had to have a meeting with the programme director when I enrolled in my classes. She told me there was a concern that English wasn't good enough -this clearly didn't make sense to me, so over the course of several consultations and discussions the problem morphed into my Spanish not being good enough, then my French not being good enough, then back to Spanish, and now to both my Spanish and French not being good enough. (See what I mean about the school being disorganised?). Regardless of what the problem actually is, why wouldn't they have told me before I uprooted my whole life, quit my job and moved to a different continent?! So negligent and irresponsible!

The whole thing has left me very frustrated – and confused since my Spanish is clearly the best in the class. I have always been extremely sensitive about my French though. When I was younger, my French-Canadian mum put so much pressure on me to speak French. This made me intensely self-conscious of the fact that I didn't speak it properly, thus less likely to speak, resulting therefore in more pressure (and ultimately disappointment). –A downward spiral of franco-badness really. While I would say my French is neither the best nor the worst in class, this situation has really played into all my worst fears that my French, in fact, is not good enough after all. Très déprimant.

12 November 2007

The results are in!

All polling stations have now closed. Her Majesty's Royal Referendum on the Status of Hair reports the following results:

Short: 30%
Long: 55%
Spoiled Ballot: 15%

With the assent of Her Excellency, the Governor-General, my hair with heretoforth be grown long.

(I was hoping you would all spare me all the hassle that is long hair, but who am I to question the masses?)

05 November 2007

Blogger Poll: Important Life Decisions Ahead

I have to cut my hair. The time has come. Please help me decide whether I should cut it much shorter than it's been lately, or grow it out long again.

For your reference:

Points of consideration: My hair is matchstick straight. Consequently, trying to get it to do anything other than look like a mop of hay on my head is very difficult when long. The current French look is dirty and short.

Please leave your poll responses in the 'Comments' section of this post. Once all polling stations have reported, I will take the appropriate steps to carry out your wishes.

01 November 2007

Harry Potter and le Moulin des Secrètes

Recently, I decided to re-read all the Harry Potter books before going on to read the final book in the series. Since I was going to the effort, I thought I might as well re-read them in French, to get some extra language practice. I get to learn all kinds of words like 'broomstick' (manche à balai) and 'cauldron' (chaudron). –Bet you didn't know that Hogwarts was called 'Poulard' in French.

I just finished 'Arry Pottèr à l'école des sorciers (as Philosopher's Stone is known here), and came across this, which I'm sure you'll appreciate as much as I did.