Thursday, September 28, 2006

Can you be fluent in several languages?

WASHINGTON -- George L. Campbell, a linguist who could converse with cabbies and shopkeepers, write scholarly tomes, and conduct learned discourse in more than 40 languages, died of pneumonia Dec. 15 in Brighton, England. He was 92. (

I don't know how fluent this guy is in speaking all the 40 something languages.

For me, it was never a choice to speak more than one language, but growing up in Malaysia, you just need to speak at least 3 languages to survive. At home, we speak our family dialect, Hokkien. In school, we speak mandarin to keep our identity as the offspring of the immigrants from China. Since we are living in Malaysia, of course we learn Malay in school and use it to communicate with the government agencies and the other races (mainly Malay and Indian). And then, English is the business language in private sector, so we need to master it in order to climb the ladder in the corporate world.

Among the 4 languages, I think I master mandarin more than others before I left Malaysia. English was always my weak subject in school. That's why I chosed to go to USA for an internship, so that I can improve my English. Right now, I'm more comfortable writing and speaking in English because typing in English is always faster than typing in Chinese.

Anyway, I can't say that I speak all these languages perfectly. I mixed between Chinese and English from time to time because basically some of the expression just couldn't be translated in other language. Also, imagine that for a single word like "table", you need to remember how to speak it in 4-5 different languages. Tiresome.

So now, I'm stucked with French and I really hate it. I hate the fact that I need to take on one more language, which will be the main communication language, despite the fact that I speak other languages. Worst, these languages that I speak are useless in this country.

These days when I make progress in French, I lose my English and Mandarin. If I was speaking French in the school, come home, I forgot some English words when talking to my boyfriend, and instead have to say it in Fernch. The worst is my Malay, I can't even remember how to speak simply words like "decide", reference, enjoy...all my hard work towards this subject is draining into the river.

When some people just need to master in one language, I need to keep 4 or 5 now, won't my brain explode running out of space in storing all these? I probably need to upgrade the brain space! Or, I should just simply give up on maintaining one or two languages.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

French comedy: Samantha Oups

I seldom watch French TV program but this one I usually don't want to miss because it's so funny and hilarious! It's shown on 7.50pm from Mon to Fri, only 10 minutes before the 8pm news start.

Basically is about two guys who play as a blond and a brune. They are best friend to each other. The blond is called Samantha, and the brune is called Chantal.

On one of the episod, Samantha was in the kitchen, and she saw the microwave's time moving and bipping. She thought it was a bomb, and hesitated so much for the next move. At around 8 seconds left, she decided to pull the microwave from the plug and throw it towards the window. She passedby Chantal and bumped into her. Chantal asked why she threw away her microwave. Samantha replied that one day Chantal will thanks her for shaving Chantal's life. As usual, Chantal showed her "don't know what to do with her"expression.

You can find the extract of some of the episods here:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Badminton Training

Photo from:

So, we start to go to badminton session regularly. One day to learn, with 2 professors present to teach, the other day free training. It has around 25 people, and I'm the only Asian, how nice! Also, just find out that my boyfriend's company will pay half of our badminton fees, no bad ah?

What I'm really missing is, the ice lemon tea gathering at mamak store after some sport. We usually played basketball or badminton, then go straight for supper. In France, by the time we finish around 11pm, you can only drink beer I guess.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

la crémaillère - House Warming Party

This weekend we went to Saint-Nazaire to attend a friend's house warming party.

Saint-Nazaire is about 40 minutes from Nantes, first port of France on the Atlantic side. It's major industries including ship building (RMS Queen Mary 2, was built here) and aircraft (Air Bus).

This couple rented a house, which has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. I found the bathrooms upstair to be very cute, because it's carpeted and quite large, so you can actually make it a room (some of the guests slept there). Renting a house is usually expensive especially it locates not far from the town center, so I guess they must be paying quite a high rent.

Anyway, our host brought us to sightsee at La Baule, said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, after the beaches in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. This friend works around this area, so he's pretty familiar with this area. He told us that during summer, it's so crowded that you don't see space between people on the beach. Scary hah!

As usual, during the night the guys drank like hell, and only go to sleep around 4am. I couldn't sleep before that because they were singing and yelling. Managed to finish Harlan Coben's "Deal Breaker" though. One incident happened, and I decided that I have have enough of this kind of "drink to get drunk" party. I told my boyfriend that I should not participate anymore because I'm always the weird one who doesn't like to drink and go sleep early and can no longer stand all their stupid childish drunk behavior. He agreed. Good, I have suffered from this kind of party for over a year now, should be considered tolerate enough, eh?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Skype offered free unlimited call to fixeline within France

It's about time they do this. I'm using Free so calling fixeline within France is already free.
Check out their blog for more information.

Friday, September 22, 2006

200k train tickets sold at 5 euros

Yesterday, the train company SNCF sold 200,000 one way tickets at 5 euros, to celebrate it's 25th anniversary. The crowd formed a huge line before the counter was opened. Destinations included Paris to London, Marsailles and other big city, or from city to city. Passengers can also buy it online, but the tickets were sold out after 45 minutes.

5 euros is really really cheap. From Nantes to Paris, it will cost 50 euros for refundable price. Imagine two people going to Paris passing a weekend, transport cost itself is already 200 euros. I was required to go to the Embassy to register our marriage, but it just seems to be too expensive to do that.

Semaine de la mobilité 2006

This week is the week of mobilisation, where you are encouraged to use public transports or other mean of transport to move around, instead of your own car. This is the week where global warning is reminded, and people should contribute to less air pollution.

Nantes has efficient public transportation, so it's really easy for people to move around in the city. You can also rent a bicycle for half day, for only a euro. The city of Nantes is promoting the benefit of using bicycle to work, most of the roads now has bicycle line. No matter what, I still feel it's very dangerous to move around city with a bicycle. I would prefer to use it when I'm in a village, to enjoy the fresh air and the natural surrounding.

I still remember the time when everybody in Malaysia was using bicycle. Now having a car is a sign of "improvement" in terms of financial. Besides, you can travel longer distance.

When a country is developed, they always need to sacrifice the environment.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

French Illegal Immigrants

I was watching France 2 for an immigration report. Recently, a group of illegal immigrants were kicked out from an ancient university residency, and the prefecture offered them hotel rooms. Some of the immigrants didn't want to take this offer, instead they stay in a gym. So, the host of this program when to interview the leader of those immigrants who decided to stay in the gym then go to hotel.

Her comments shocked me. She said something like this:"The human fundamental right entitled us to immigrant to everyway around the world. Besides, Europe used to come to explore our resources in Africa and make themselves rich, and now is the time for them to pay back, and share their wealth with us. Because of these, the French government should give all of us right to stay in France."

I don't know how people can think this way, as if everybody can choose to stay in whatever country they want, the rich countries will be packed and face with social problems, until they become poor countries. Malaysia is the ex-colonial of Britain, and we don't think they owe us, it's just that we were weak at that time, so people bully us. It made us stronger so that this kind of bullying won't happy again.

The TV crew went to Mali, a country that have high immigrants to France. It showed that most of the people have hard time to find a job, and going to France is in the tradition, a ritual to "grow up". A woman standing with several young kids, pointed to two of the boys and said they will go to France, and pointed to the young girls and said they will be married to France. Since everybody is doing it, this kids grow up having one goal: Go to France and work, come back and build a house.

The program also talked about how Spain gives legal status to every immigrants in the country. The current spain government is from the left wing. It showed each week around 2500 immigrants coming by boat, and they then seek help from the government body. The government assigns social worker, who try to find contact for these people, and eventually buy them ticket to the city these people want. On the TV, a young social worker went to Madrid with this newcomer, and gave him 30 euros and left him. However, beginning this week, the government has stopped this policy, they are not giving away the permanent residency automatically anymore.

This week the Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy granted residency status to 7000 out of 30,000 families who came to France illegally. He said France will only allow those who are willing to integrate into the French sociaty to stay in France.

I personally think that the French government should help develop the poor African countries who have historical tie with France. The immigrants come to France because there are no hope in their own countries. If their countries can give them hope and a life, they would stay in their home countries. Also, the government can help build schools and Universities which allow these poor people to accept formal education, and eventually have a chance to come to France to contribute their know-how.

I hope that the illegal immigrants understand that they shouldn't abuse the social system. If everybody comes here hoping for right for free home, free welfare and not working, then they come to the wrong place. The government is not Santa Clause, the money come from the people who work hard and trying to earn a life. France simply has no ability to help every poor people in the world.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Good News Bad News Good News Bad News

I went to several job agencies to look for job opportunity. There's good response but there's bad response. At one point I was desperated. I have done everything I know to look for a job, but it seems that it's hopeless to even land a factory job.

I first went to Man Powers, and the woman told me that it's difficult, bcos of my level of French, and bcos I haven't been working in my field for a long time. It was very discouraging, as my working experience in US and Malaysia looked completely useless for her, and speaking English and Mandarin don't help either.

At home, I got called from a finance agency, and she is trying to match me to a company. On the same day, an agent called for some interpret job. So my hope raised again.

Then I went to Kelly Services, she sent me away bcos that office is specializing in manuel jobs that need diplomas and experiences.

On the way to Adecco, I met a man who is also looking for a job. He is French, but been living in French Polynesia. He is 50 years old, and just come back to Nantes to visit family. He wanted some temporarily job, and have been registered with 28 job agencies. After half year, he still couldn't find any job.

His experience is such a huge shock to me. If a French couldn't find a job, what is the chance for me? I arrived in Adecco, and the agent is very nice, and reviewed my CV. She commented again that the fact I don't speak good French and I haven't been working since some times ago, it's going to be difficult. The only potential job she foresee is to sort stocks in grocery store, which need to start at 5am, or some seasoning job.

The finance agency hasn't been calling, and the interpret job is pretty much gone as the conference is supposed to be in this week.

At that point, I felt so helpless. This Adecco agency is supposed to match job to the production industry and the least diploma and experience need kind of job. If this agency says difficult, then it's really difficult.

So, my MBA from US worth nothing, my skill of speaking multiple languages also worth little. There were a lot of young people standing outside this Adecco, and I presume they are unemployed. I truly symphatise with them, as even the lowest jobs have so much competition, their future is surely in question. At least I have my home country to turn to at the worst case, but what could these French young kids going to do? Moving to other country?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Free French Class

I went to take an evaluation test today in Capformation. From this week on I will take 8 hours French, paid by the government. Capformation is aimed at people who need to re-learn skills to enter the job market. It offers English and mathematic classes as well.

Thinking about it, I miss the time going to University, learning French with classmates, then go lunch together. In Capformation, it's more self disipline: you decide what you want to learn, and a professor is there to help.

Yesterday night, as usual lazy cooking day, so went to a restaurant. Bad. Sunday is not our day, we always got disappointed by the restaurant we chosed.

We talked about that we have the right wings will win the next election, so that they will reform the economy, and allow people to do business on Sunday. Coming from Malaysia and US, I miss those 24 hours operating shops and restaurants. It's just supply and demand, simple economic theory.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bomb and evacuation

The city of Nantes found a second war world bomb in "quai de Tourville" on 11 Septembre. They have evacuated the residents within 250km since 7am this morning. By 12.10pm, they managed to neutralised the bomb. Since then the residents are allowed to go back to their houses.

Journées du patrimoine

In France, there are a weekend that's called "days of heritage"where you can visit historical places like museums and castles for free. I personally think this is a very good idea as this encourage people to get out of the house and get knowns to the heritages around them.

We went to Angers and visited the Castle of Angers and a museum.

Friday, September 15, 2006

French Business Schools lead the list in Europe

Financial Times 11 Sept 06:" French business schools have dominated the latest Financial Times business school ranking, claiming seven out of the top 10 slots in the league of European purveyors of masters programmes.

The ranking assesses Masters in Management degrees, which differ from MBA programmes in that most students join the courses directly after their undergraduate degree; an MBA usually requires several years of work experience."

Here is the ranking in France. The number 8 Audencia is located in Nantes, very close to Unversity of Nantes.
Whitefield Consulting Worldwide - French Rankings 2006
Rankings Schools Country
1 INSEAD France
2 HEC Paris France
3 ESCP-EAP France
4 Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées France
5 EM Lyon France
6 Reims Management School France
7 Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris France
8 Audencia Nantes France
9 EDHEC - Theseus International Mangement Institute France
10 Grenoble Ecole de Management France
11 IAE Aix-en-Provence (MBA in Change and Technology) France
12 ESC Rouen France
13 ESC Toulouse (MBA in Aerospace) France
14 Bordeaux Business School (MBA in Wine) France
15 Sup de Co Montpellier University of Birmingham France
16 Euromed Marseilles, World Mediteranean MBA France
17 IAE de Paris/Dauphine France
18 Euro Insititut Commercial de Nancy – Euro MBA France
19 ESC Lille Lille Graduate School of Management France
20 ESC Pau - Stockholm University School of Business France

I check to see the posibility to enter Audencia, and found out it's only for students under 28 years old. What scares me most is the school fee: 17000 euros for the 2 years courses.

Who has that kind of money? Not me at least.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Rennes is the capital city of Brittany. I have been to this city several times, so this time I take it slow and easy.

Start off with Parc du Tabor. Have a nap, then read on the beautiful grass with some sun. I never understood why people can lay down on grass under the sun, now only I know it's too comfortable to do that. In Malaysia, the sun is too hot, you are basically having a sona. Exit from the park, I saw this, think it's cute.

It means I need to be taken on leash. I didn't see much dogs around, but France is really a nation having lots of dogs.

This is the house office the park. It's quite bit, while I was taking picture a guy driving in sport Mercedes drive in. I presume rich people live here.

There are lots of churches and cathedrals in Rennes, I like the achitechture.

Some houses in Brittany are built with this kind of stone. It's actually very cute. However it's very expensive nowaday.

This water wall is cute. I have to take this picture from the gate. You can't get closer.

Found these bridal gowns to be too much, I won't be able to wear them.

This is the Parliment in Rennes. It was burnt down once by the fishermen who did a demonstration.

Durian wafer

I love durian and everything goes with it. My boyfriend hates it so much.

I got this durian wafer from a chinese grocery, when we got home, he secretly hide it somewhere else. When I crave for it, he reluctantly gave it to me, and quickly open the door and cover his noise. I pity him, so have to hide the remaining wafer somewhere so it won't bother him.

Isn't it amazing how much different we are in accepting certain smell? His cheeses are as smelly as durian but I don't have to cover my noise and gradually accepting them. For him, his dislikeness for durian will never fade away I guess.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cheek kiss after sport? Weird

We finally managed to play badminton in Nantes. We went to do the registration yesterday, and immediately we were allowed to play.

What I noticed is that after a game, people actually do the French hello kiss (cheek kiss) instead of shake hands. How weird, you are all sweeting and you are expected to faire la bise (hello kiss)?

We went in into a game with a couple, and ended I shake their hands. They must feel weird, but I really can't stand the cheek tough at this point.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Last week the gîte where we are having our wedding reception in France told us that they can't make it on 1 September. What! Appearantly that there is a bicycle race going on every year end of August. In 2007 it will be from 31 Aug to 2 Sept and all the roads around will be closed for this event.

This sucks big time! Well, just for my family. My sister and my sister in law may not be able to make the trip to France. Gosh!

Initial plan was for my family to come over from 18 Aug to 2 Sept. 18 Aug starts the school holiday for my nephews who will come with their mothers. The holiday ends 26 Aug, so they will have to skip class for a week, minus 31 Aug public holiday. So 4 days absent from class for primary school kids are acceptable.

Now, after negotiating, the gîte agreed to postponed to 8 Sept, which means if my sisters come with the kids, they will force their kids to skip school for 2 weeks, not acceptable even for me! Since my mother and aunt are coming, there are nobody handle to take care of their children, so that means they can't make it.

Sad! The French won't change the gîte because they got good deal. Besides, who will care if two Malaysians do show up for a wedding?