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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Language Help: Common Things in French

During my mom's visit I realized there were quite a few things I got used to living without, that she hadn't.  Or even moreso things I realized I figured out but had no idea what the word was when I first moved to France.  Sorry for the lack of proper accents on my French words in this post, I'm using one of my American computers and searching for the accents exhausts me.

I'd like to take a post to revisit some of those typical things and give the French equivalent, once again:

Around the House

Bleach - Eau de Javel
fabric softener - appsouplissant
detergent - lessive lave-linge
sensitive skin - peau sensible
dishwasher detergent - lessive pour lave-vaisselle
hand soap - savon
stain remover - detachant
stain - tache
a rag - un chiffon
dish towel (in EVERY French home) - un torchon
a sponge - une eponge

In the Kitchen  
(I'll only do the most basic, I recommend this site for more information)
wine opener - tire bouchon
bottle of wine - une bouteille du vin
wine glass - un verre du vin
ice cubes - des glacons
cookbook - un livre de cuisine
recipe - une recette
cold drink - une boisson fraiche
water - de l'eau

Spices or Food Stuffs
(Same as above, not too much detail since it is a lot of words, instead try THIS SITE!)
peanut oil - huile de cacahuete
organic - bio
snack - gouter (often they say, "l'heure de gouter" which is a small snack around 4pm)
cut in slices (can order this at the boulangerie) - faire en tranches, ou couper en tranches
bacon - lardon ou poitrine fume/sale

Business Outside of Apartment
the bank - la banque
the apartment managers office - la regie
university - le fac
university cafeteria - CafeT
savings  - epargne
pay check - un bulletin de paie
grocery store - super marche

That's about what I can come up with on the top of my head... but here are some more resources to understand and learn specific French words:

Lyon Eats Food Resource
French Linguistics Word Reference Site

And of course, if ever any questions simply shoot me a mail!

Tomorrow is October 1st, and I still can't believe how quickly September went.  Yikes.  Look forward to more posts coming up, I have got to try and stay on top of it.. but with a Masters program and 18 hours a week of work.. well life's barely life.

Tant pis!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Advice: Le Master in France

The day after mom left I had no time to be emotional, the sadness from the morning wore off as I returned to worked and drowned myself in telephone calls and student follow ups.  Quick enough that too passed and I found myself zombieing towards the direction of school to go to one of my many many classes for my Master's program in France.  That's right, after a year of intensive French via the CIEF program at Lyon II I enrolled into a specialty International Management Master under the Frenchity-French name of: Master 2 en Internationale Management des Petites et Moyens Entreprises et Entreprises Tailles Intermediares.  Simply put in our 25 people class slang, M2PMETI.

Classes officially started last week, of course I was stressing before they even begun.  I remembered the foreign students in my Business classes- how, in utmost honesty, I dreaded having them on my team because I knew we'd have to explain everything.  During roleplays we'd give them the easy role, minimalist lines and try to support them... I was going to become that foreigner.  A week before the classes were to start I already started to have nightmares, I would show up to class and suddenly all my French would disappear and I couldn't understand a word from the teacher ni the students.

Of course starting off wasn't super easy either, looking back at last week my notes are written in short-hand, scribbled nonsense sentences and sometimes a vocabulary word scratched on the top of the paper with a huge QUESTION MARK.  It was nice having some recognition for what I am doing, I kept mentioning l'importance de changer le stéréotype Américain, that, ce n'est pas juste que dans le domaine des affaires tout le monde faut parler en Anglais.  I pushed the fact that I was the only business student AMERICAN that I knew with such a fluent level and respect for the French culture.

See, most people who come over, come to sort of suck up the culture.  Learn about the literature, the gastronomy, cooking skills, methodology to teach French back in the States- I decided to utilize my strength and experience in Business and learn that aspect.

Plus a Master in France only costs like 250€ payable in 3 installements of 83€!  Calculating my Master costs in the US made my head spin- and I couldn't stand the fact I would have to rack up more debt to get an education.. so I bit the bullet and found a program that fit my goals and applied.

The interview was in July; with a lovely lady who seemed ravie that I had applied to the program.  I was the first American in a long time, I would be a great part of the program.. etc.  Plus I'd get to try and do an INTERNSHIP with a company in Lyon... which is another stress in my mind.....

Now the question, what is it like in a French Masters Program?

Well, hard of course.  There is always the language barrier- which some professors are kind and give lots of synonyms during their lectures so we foreigners understand- but unfortunately it's not always that easy.  I have one professor that talks so fast I only have a moment to digest what he said and get it until he suddenly jets off in a separate direction... I have the innate feeling he has a slight ADD... but it's dommage because he is one cute dude. (But married for those of you looking for the marriage way of staying in France).

I have a mix of classes, Business Plan classes, classes about the Industrial Economy... I think the hardest part about the information is the changing of the words.  In business the French have tried to find equivalent words for everything we already have jargon for in the States- for example a Greenfield Venture has now become ex nihilo.  WTF?

Now, probably wondering how to get all enrolled in a Master program in France?  It's quite easy:

  1. Go to the Lyon 2 or Lyon 3 website and search what they offer as formations or masters
  2. Pick out what you like and sign up online to deposer un candidature
  3. Remember all those pesky documents: releves des notes, lettre de motivation, CV
  4. Apply once all documents are ready
  5. Wait for a response
If you are nervous about your carte de séjour running out- fret not because when you reapply you don't need proof of school until September.  They understand students are waiting for a response..

And word to the wise:  Don't attempt a Master's Program in France until you watch French news and understand what is going on.  Otherwise opt for an English based program (such as those offered at Lyon 3) or a language based program (such as the CIEF)

bonne chance!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Pain of Distance

There is something that little blog writers touch- so focused on the adoration for the country, the how to survive guides and the self promoting glory I'd snagging a European lover... We forget the pain of being thousands of miles away from those we love and care about.

It has been one year since I have moved to France and mom finally was able to make a visit for a good chunk of 3 weeks from August to today. Today is that inevitable day that tends to come too quickly, the day she has to leave. In a year of living in Europe I tended to compartmentalize all those snaggy emotions with work or studies, I forgot what that pain felt like one year ago when dad, mom and bro waved me in tears at the airport in Portland.

It is not easy to say goodbye to a lover, it is just as painful to wave goodbye to a known life and family. The joy of them visiting tends to trump the sadness for the short term until you let yourself get comfortable with coming home to mom... And then as fast as it started you come home and she is gone.

Let me give a piece of advice to those wanting to do the European adventure: you are going to have to say goodbye eventually. In my case it was either to Bri or to my Parents... It's a well known sadness that I am carrying and I know exactly what to do to not feel it. If you have never been away from home, or never gone on vacation alone prepare yourself emotionally avant departure. Otherwise the shock could change your very core.

Lots of love to those who say goodbye,


Sunday, September 18, 2011

What-What: Le Jardin des Dombes

Hidden in a non-descript alley in la Croix Rousse in Lyon is a restaurant that I have fallen head over heels for.  How could one not be in love when there is a menu for 25 euros for a dish of unlimited frog legs?

Of course, today being my big 24th birthday I decided the best way to celebrate was to haul my Mom and Bri to an all-you-can-eat frog leg palace and make it worth it.  I mean, all you can eat buffets are one thing, but an endless supply of frog legs are a rarity in France... plus seeing Bri's eyes go wide with joy only makes the experience even better.

Le Jardin des Dombes was the first restaurant I searched in France when I had a huge craving for frog around our anniversary in February.  I was even more excited to drag my American mother into the local restaurant and share the experience of sucking tiny little frog bones and waddling home with a stomach coated in butter and parsley.  Plus what better way to enjoy her last Sunday in France, and my goal to truly profit and get as round as possible before I end up having to study all the time.

We crawled up to the restaurant, only taking slight detours to purchase some pastries for my birthday, and sitting down I looked at the young waiter and simply stated, on va prendre trois de votre menu grenouille à volonté. He smiled, nodded and collected our menus.

Quickly we smelt the frying of the legs and a giant dish was placed in front of our faces.  Brian dished out the frogs and gave a short presentation on our frog eating skills, pull apart this leg, take of this meat, suck on that part. Soon enough we were in a feeding frenzy of frog dipping our bread into the sauce and eating the tiny sticks of meat.

Amazingly, as a Sunday, it was packed and full of families sucking down frog.  I leaned over the edge of the upstairs seating area to watch the older couples eating together.  I looked at Bri, I want to be like that, and after the 3rd plate of frogs we were filled.

Toss in a couple of pots du vin and mix in a serving of home made ice cream and we were stuffed.  The best part of the restaurant however, was the conversation afterwards.  I smiled at the young waiter and the chef who had wandered upstairs (we were the last); Est-ce que c'est bien un restaurant familial ici? The chef nodded, warmly and pointed to the young waiter, Il est mon fils et ma soeur, elle travaille ici des fois aussi donc, ouais, c'est familial ici.  I nodded and added, j'adore ça, j'adore les entreprises qui sont familials, etc.  As the chef wandered downstairs, I sparked a conversation with the waiter and he asked, vous venez d'où exactement? I replied, les états-unis, je suis une américaine, I mentioned my Master, he joked about the difference between Lyon 2 and Lyon 3.

The joys of the Jardin des Dombes were over as quickly as they started and I waved as I left.

Experiences in life are as quickly as they start, c'est la vie, and so I realized in the little family restaurant up in the Croix Rousse that typical French family environment...

Also, word to the wise, the menu isn't translated.  That way we know it's good.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Advice: English Books

I've had a lot of questions surrounding the wherabouts of English books, even myself in my Master's program I haven't read a book in French just for the pure pleasure of it.  English books are easier to read and tend to be more interesting to digest... many times it loses that flavor in translation-- no one wants a flavorless book.

Thus I've decided to discuss where to find English books, either to have for families with bilingual children or for those who simply love to read (like myself).

First off, the big stores:

Decitre next to Bellecour has a great section of Anglophone books, so much so sometimes I wonder why they even bother having French books.  The issue is all the books are new, ie costly, and so we run the risk of spending lots of money for good reads.  Anglophone books, like British goodies, are considered import commodities so they get away with charging even more than normal.

Looking for USED English books?  Gilbert Joseph off La Rue des Marronniers offers a buy-back program for books as well as a section (third story, in the back) of used English books.  It's also great for those who have a pile of English books and are ready for a change... can't guarantee that they will buy for a lot of cash, but in regards to changing it up... good deal.  I was able to find a book sold at 10€ at Decitre for only 4€ at Gilbert Joseph.  The pricing changes, as does the availability... it's sort of a hunt for what you want.

Amazon.com of course is another option for those not willing to scout for Anglohpone books- the best deal however is that in France books are FREE DELIVERY with Amazon.  Not sure if it's a regulated country law or simply out of the graciousness of their hearts (have a hard time believing that one) but it remains a fact.

Fnac also has an Anglophone section, but their prices tend to fluctuate towards unaffordable.  Hoewever if you have loads of cash and want a good ol' Anglophone library feel free!

For those with children in tow, or even French families looking to expand their bilingual repetoire- there is a fabulous Children's Bilingual bookstore in the 6ème, next to Rue Vendôme, called Inter Fun.  Not only do they have English children's books but also German or Spanish for those looking to get that trilingual action in sooner than later.

Those are some resources that I've found.  When in doubt scan the online ads for English books, I saw some listings at Little Britain recently that offered some great children's books for as little as 1€ a book!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How Did I Get Here?

Growing up I had nothing, I remember I proudly wore my used clothes and somehow always made friends. I lived in a two room cabin for the first few years of grade school- but at school I had friends, I was not so much popular but just-- enigmatic. I could control a room with my presence. I remember my Grandmother- who raised me until I was 14- would clean hotels and homes to make our eating money.

At the time it was safer for me to live in Forks, away from the drama of the divorce. My mom worked anything she could and send any extra money to us. I was on those trees you see at Christmas- little girl wishes for the new Barbie, an expensive Tyco play thing. Those good people in that town were my family- my friends just as poor as myself. How did I get here? Sometimes I tend to forget my roots, until I have conversations with the Cleaning Lady at my office and I feel this absolute understanding. I see my grandmother in her, and I know what her daughter does...

I am in France. I came from nothing, wrapped in hand me down church clothes and now I am in a masters program in France. Not to say anything was ever easy, I have only known challenges in my life. Thanks to the work and love from my family I pushed myself to get here. Nothing was handed to me on a platter.

Don't ever let anyone tell you it's impossible- if you want to come to France, make it happen. You don't have to pay 20,000$ a year to make the dream a reality.

I am living proof and I am only going to get better.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Life in France

How many times can I read Julia Childs memoir before I commit every word to memory? I think for anyone considering moving to France there are two books to pack in the suitcase: My Life in France and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. For the latter I picked it up late in the afternoon today after an exhausting week of- well secretive and non titled filming for an American show. Reliving my move to France made me remember that mystified feeling I had stepping over the border. As Julia fabulously put it, "I fell in love with the food, the people and the baguettes." So many Americans have used her dream to create their own sometimes I even forget that I happen to be living the dream.

From the markets to the French debates over an endless flow of table wine. Reading through her blatant and romantic recollections has made me remember why I am so lucky.

One year ago I was curious where I would be in a year- I kept writing my discoveries in order to simply share knowledge and a collective laugh. Sometimes France has been cruel- the culture surprisingly different from my own. Sometimes I've regretted even moving- until I lean out my window on a Sunday afternoon and the church bells ring in the distance. I prance through the markets and order my local products and lounge around snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables. I debate loudly and convincingly in French- talking louder and more forceful instead of waiting a turn to speak. I wave and chat with those on my street, not needing their names just feeling as though they really are part of this new home. I have even felt the change, seeing my mom come and realizing that even though I am still myself, I have accepted Lyon into my heart.

It's a challenge and a pleasure and it's my own life in France.

This month will have many more posts as I continue to discover the parts of Lyon that make me happy.

Donc. A bientôt.
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