Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas meals

The Christmas celebration started on 24 December, including the happy moment of present opening.

The French emphasis a lot on the presentation. So here's their table setting.

We started with a present from our grandmother. Good chocolat inside!

Champagne + yummy food + warm fire = nice Christmas night

My mother in-laws made this foie gras with apple, yummy.

Oyster is on the menu.

Langoustin on the menu.

We couldn't wait until the end of the meal to open our presents, which are already sitting besides our shoes (it's in the French tradition to put a shoe under the Christmas tree, and everybody will put the present beside the shoe), so each person goes pick up a present for everybody. For the first round, we got some cookies, second round we offered the present, third round we got more presents... these are some of my presents, including the Orang Utan...

More seafood, the scallop from my father in laws.

More presents flew in, from now on we will have our own chairs!

Dessert: The Christmas cake made by my mother in laws.

This year's meal was definitely lighter, so we didn't feel that full full. It's was great bcos we need to have some space for the second day Christmas lunch. haha

Christmas day lunch: Entree

Chicken and chestnut, a must for the lunch.

Christmas Deco

My brother in laws took his time to decorate the Christmas tree with the santons (religious statues) and the characters from Brittany.

Jesus is borned

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Grandmother and Chinese soup opera

Through subscription to Freebox, I got 14 channels of Chinese program.

My husband's grandmother is here for the holiday, and she was watching the Chinese soup opera with me. She keep asking me what's going on, apparently she loves TV, but the French soups are just too boring. It's very interesting for her to see those people wearing in weird costumes. She's just funny.

Mes belles grand-mères? (My grandmother in laws)

In French, mother in laws = belle mère (beautiful mother), father in laws = beau père (handsome father), sister in laws = belle soeur (beautiful sister), is my grandmother in laws = ma belle grand-mère (my beautiful grandmother)?

The answer is no. When I asked my husband's grandmothers about this, they were laughing and couldn't accept to be called "beautiful grandmother". Even though they are both beautiful and sweet.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Party

We had a Christmas party in the class today. Imagine those foods from 4 continents: Europe, Asia, Africa and America.

Some desserts and some French cheeses

Foods from different countries

The Vietnameses took their time to decorate their foods

A fashion show from Asia: Vietnamese, Malaysians and Thailand

I had the honour to be one of the host of the program of the day, with my broken French I presented Malaysia as well. The highlight was when the Brazilians demonstrate the Capoeira, something like Brazilian Kung Fu. Everybody had fun!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

English Test

After 5 years in USA, I thought that my English level is not bad, or good compare to the French.

Today, I have an English test, and I would say I didn't do as good as I could. Already, I'm confused between when to use "have been" and "had been", and I was tested these grammers thingy in one of the section. I have less problem for the proposition, but at the section about the nationality, I couldn't remember how a person from Copenhagen is called? Man, you need to know all the cities in Europe to be able to answer these questions.

Then, translate an article in English to French. The article was about being vegetarian in UK. Phew, my French is so broken that I wish the English professor who will correct it will know immediately that I'm a foreigner.

The next section was to write an essay, and I chosed to write about France and the French. But, I didn't have enough time, so I only wrote like 8 lines while it requires 15 lines.

The last section is the most rediculous test I have ever seen. We were given a floor plan of a company, and staff D, E, F, G, H were indicated where they seat. The question is to place Mr A, B and C, among all the empty desks on the floor plan. There are a bunch of empty seats and I have no idea where these misters should be placed! There is no other indication for it. I saw two boxes with a human picture in it, so I put them there, but I guess those human pictures indicate toilettes now. Phew. I asked a French girl and she said she had no idea either and she just left it blank. No wonder they all finished the test before me.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Go take a course and get paid!

France is a socialist country, so it exists many benefits for the French and it's permanent residents.

I hate people who abuse and rely on the benefit system, but it can really help people who are seriously in need.

For example, as an unemployed resident, you get a transportation card from the townhall, then you can go anyway in the city for free, by using the public transportation system. It's easy to go for job interview, or training classes. You won't hide yourself at home to try to save some money, instead you can still enjoy life like the others.

Recently, I found out courses that are designed for the unemployed. You need to pay some fees, but you will get paid every month, from the unemployment agencies. For example, I found this export import course, 10 months for 900 euros, but each month you will get paid around 600 euros. This course require the student to do an internship oversea for at least 5 weeks, and I'm not sure whether the student will get paid for the housing and expenses overseas. Anyway, the woman I talked to said that there exist a fund specifically for the foreigners, so there should be no problem for me to get paid.

Unfortunately, the class starts in January, and I need to be absented for 5 weeks in February to go to Malaysia. This trip is fixed, with 11 more French all excited to go with me, so I can't pull it out. Tant pis pour moi.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nantes at war!

Yesterday when I was walking downtown Nantes, I saw some smokes scattered around, with firecrackers sound everyway. I thought that Nantes is at war.

Che, it was only a strike organized by the fire fighters.

It reminded me of Chinese New Year in Malaysia. I saw one fire fighter lighting a fire cracker that looked like what I used to play in Malaysia. I love the convivial atmosphere like this: for celebration, not for strike. A strike is annoying when everybody is doing it at anytime at any cost of others.

My first Christmas tree

I have never planned to have a Christmas tree at home, bcos it takes some space and it's not a big deal to me.

However, when my father in laws gave us this, we were really excited. My husband missed his Christmas decor, it was a nice moment decorating the tree. The second day, my father in-laws came with the bulk lights, and the tree becomes very beautiful.

In the French tradition, a Christmas tree comes with la créche, the scene when Jesus was born. It usually have some sheeps, the 3 kings, the virgin Mary and her husband Joseph, and some characters I don't know. The baby Jesus is supposed to be added in on Christmas day, but we put him there already. We are not that religious anyway. My father in-laws actually modified the whole scene last year by adding some boats as if Jesus was borned in an harbour of Brittany.

It's not bad to have some decor. I'm just too lazy to do the Christmas shopping, thinking of gifts that will please everybody. They should probably learn from the Chinese, just give the red envelope (with money inside), so that people will save the money in the bank (instead of receiving gifts that he/she doesn't like or won't use), or use the money to buy what they need.

I start to understand why I'm so practical, the Chinese tradition has sure been seeded and grown in me.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hunting for apartment

We have kind of decided to buy an apartment, instead of waiting for me to get a job and then buy a new house. My husband is quite sad to let go the idea of a house with a garden, but there is no other choice.

So, the hunting process started. With him working in Rennes, I have to do everything by myself. I search through the Ouest France website and sent emails to several agents, but only one replied me. Apparently the agents here don't work well with email. I have to visit them one by one, not something I'm looking forward to.

I'm not very motivated by this task, mainly bcos I don't like the apartment in France. I hate those corridor and tiny rooms and closed kitchen. I loved my big bedroom and closet in Austin. All my friends in Malaysia bought their apartment or house newly built, and I know I could afford one myself if I work there. It's just sad to realise that this country's salary is so low that to own a spacious apartment you will need two salaries.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I found a super good course with the Chamber of Commerce in Nantes. It's in the field of International Business (Export). From their site, I'm qualified for this course, and it's remunerated, which means I might be able to have the class for free. One of the requirements is to be able to speak English and a second language. I thought Chinese will do. This course is interesting because the students will have 3 weeks of courses in the center, then 2 weeks of practical training in a company. Every 3 months they will have a mission in a company. By the end of this course, the students will have the theorical and practical part cover.

Last Friday I went to get more information, and realised that they added more requirements, which are different from what I saw in the website. Basically, the applicant needs to have worked at least 3 months in France. Too bad, but then I thought that I can try to argue about this. The person in charged had left work at 5pm, and I was told to come back Monday at 5pm.

So today, I went, and the person in charge refused to see me. The receptionist was on phone with her, and I was told that I need to have an appointment. Worst, second language for them mean either Spanish or German. The receptionist said that I shouldn't even try since I don't speak neither Spanish nor German.

It's a very discouraging country. No matter how many languages I speak, it's still not good enough for them. They really try to make my life miserable. With the boombing business relationship with Asia especially China, Why can't they accept someone who speak Chinese to do this course?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Joyeux anniversaire

I'm 30 today. My parents in-laws come to celebrate with me. They gave me a check to buy a pair of boots which I have been looking for a long time. I have never worn any boots before and I don't really like the feeling of wearing it (when I try them). But, instead of wearing jeans all the times, it's good to wear some skirts. In this time boots are very useful to cover the legs during the winter.

I hope I will wear more variety of clothes in my 30ths.

I desperately hope I can have a clearer future for my career.

Happy birthday to me.