27 February 2008

Homecoming Queen Dilemmas

I've been thinking and debating about when I should finagle my escape from the land of brie and Bordeaux to schedule some QT with all my amazing confreres and countrymen back in TO.

I have my return plane ticket which must be used before 12 September. The problem being that if I visit late summer-ish, I'm away when I should be making money. This is a big problem, because I have no money :-( On the converse side, the weather is hot and sunny, frisboi beckons, everyone is happy, pitchers of sangria abound.

Were I to visit at Christmas, I forfeit the return part of the ticket have and buy a new Paris-Toronto-Paris ticket. Not as much fun weather-wise, but more of course more family, turkey, stuffing, presents and tourtière. Speaking from past experience, holiday visits skew towards the hectic as there is always much scuttling across the frozen landscape to be done; Toronto, Belleville, Toronto, relatives, friends, New Years. It all gets to be a bit much.

Then of course there's always the problem of not knowing exactly when the semester starts or finishes... Decisions, decisions.... Unfortunately I don't think I can afford to do both.


24 February 2008


As with everything in France, my exam schedule is illogical and unclear. I have school, then two weeks of Easter holiday at the end of april, then come back for the first week of may, then am done the semester.

As if it wasn't already strange enough having a two week break, then coming back for one week of school (of which a day is already a national holiday), then finishing; no one seems to know when the exams are! Some professors have said exams are in the last week of class, others have said in the week after classes end, and yet others in the week before easter vacation! – Officially, according to the registrar's office, the exam period "hasn't been decided yet." – What! How can they not know? They've had the whole bloody year to figure it out!

I would say the whole thing was completely ridiculous, if I wasn't already so used to such nonsensical French shenanigans.

21 February 2008

New Favourite Video?

It's too close to call between this homage to all my favourite James Bond title sequences and the techo-Bollywood, many arms of Vishnu 80s Pac-Man extravaganza that is M.I.A.'s "Jimmy"

Scissor Sisters — "The Land of a Thousand Words"

And the winner of the WTTMB prize for best video of 2007 goes to...

19 February 2008

Just Add It To The List

The other day there was a meeting for the first year students at my school. Among other things, they talked about the exchange programme which the school offers. This programme was definitely one of the features that drew me to ESIT in the first place. I was muy excited by the opportunity to live in Madrid for a semester, see a different part of Europe and improve my Spanish all at the same time. —Did you notice the use of the past tense? I was excited by this exchange programme. It turns out that you can't get any credit for the courses you do while you're away! Um, doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of an exchange programme? And what's more is that you can't come back and finish the rest of the year here; you're just out a whole year with nothing to show for it! Mais c'est completement insensé! Completely ridiculous! What is the point of even having this programme then if you can't get credit and have to miss a year?

Students from other schools, however, who come here on the exchange programme do get credit for their classes. –Why? The read between the line answer is that my school is so full of itself that they think classes we were to do elsewhere couldn't possibly match the outstanding calibre and level of instruction we have here.

Honestly, how pretentious can you actually be? Although, this is France, so I guess the answer is very.

13 February 2008

Daddy needs a new pair of taglines!

I need two taglines, and I'm having trouble coming up with something snappy. Now who better to help me than you? Yes, you!

I need a tagline for all of the amazing 80s videos I'm discovering. It was a crazy, interesting time for music videos back then, experimenting and throwing it all together with a shoestring and a dream. Everything was exciting and everything was possible. —Sure, videos nowadays may have syncronised laser pyrotechnics and choreographed booty poppin', but where is the randomness? The fun?

In the interim, I've labeled these posts I Want My MTV, which was their original slogan when it first went to air in 1981. We didn't, however, have MTV in Canada until a few years ago, so I think there must be a better choice.

I've also decided to collect all of my stories about ÉSIT – the bumbling excuse for scholasticism that is my "university." I know there's tonnes of lyrics, movies, Simpsons quotes and Chinese fortune cookie sayings about schools and/or languages, but absolutely nothing is coming to mind right now.

All thoughts, feelings, emotions are warmly welcome!

Merci pour votre aide.

Perfectionnement français : expression écrite & orale

In my exams last semester I got an 18/20 on my exam for Perfecting your Written and Oral French. I'm pretty proud of it because 1) in the derisory French school system, a 15 is considered the best score you can realistically hope for, and 2) the prof is this effusive, extravagant writer and I really value her opinion.

For the benefit of all you French readers, I've reposted part of that exam here. The prof gave us a list of ten words, then we had to incorporate the words into a 10-line story. See if you can pick out what the words were.

Sa fuite n’est pas sans danger

Vietnam, Indochine de mystère. Dans les paddys du Mékong ; étouffant, un été éternel. Une jeune veuve, Minh, s’enferme dans sa maison. Le monde qui l’entoure l’ennuie depuis la mort de son gentil mari, un marchant de cacahuètes. La saleté de la campagne, la pudeur du naturel. Elle veut, elle doit, retourner à Saïgon, le glamour, l’excitation. Mais ses beaux-parents l’enchainent, ils sont zidanes.

La mélancolie est oppressive pour Minh, elle meurt ici. C’est en fumant l’opium qu’elle vit vraiment. Elle rêve de Saïgon ; les bruits de voitures, le clac des tuiles quand elle jouait au mah-jongg avec ses amies. Sa fuite n’est pas sans danger. Les beaux-parents pourraient la découvrir, la dénoncer, la jeter dans la rue. Mais elle n’y pense pas. Toute ce qu’elle veut c’est retourner au Saïgon qu’elle a connue.

08 February 2008

Da Pity Party is Ova'!

When the Christmas vacations finished, I was feeling all sorry for myself. The holidays were finished, Paul was back in Canada, no more Morocco to look forward to, a whole semester of ridiculousness stretched out ahead of me. No money. French bureaucracy. Winter. Boo-hoo-hoo. Woe is me.

How boring to sit around moping all the time. I decided the pity party was over! As soon as I decided that, things started looking much better. — I may still be trapped in some 1984-Kafka hybrid of insane bureaucracy, but at least I can laugh about it, walk along the Seine and eat fancy pastries.

At the same time, after months of sending out résumés and getting no response whatsoever, people started falling over themselves to offer me jobs. Crazy. So I took a job that starts in a few weeks teaching English to people in the financial sector (Welcome to Dullsville, population: me. It pays pretty well however). I also took another sideline job on a casual basis as an airport transferist (a person who collects rich American tourists from Charles-de-Gaulle airport and puts them on shuttles to their hotels). Looks like I wont need to be working the corner of Rivoli and St-Paul after all...

02 February 2008

Eighties Video Amazingness Continues!

New Order - True Faith

Sure, videos today might have solid gold jets filled with rappers' girlfriends dressed in Catholic schoolgirl uniforms, but do they have giant monopod turtle-humans who know sign language?

Also, it is the first week of February and there are already flowers in the park!! I'm so glad winter is basically over here. Winter is certainly one thing about Canada I will never miss!