Sunday, December 30, 2007

Have you ever cooked for your parents?

I don't think I did.

Whenever I want to treat my parents, I bring them to restaurant. Easy and simple and no hassle.

However when I look at my husband, I really appreciate the time he could devote to please his parents. He would think of dishes that his parents have never tried, go to buy the fresh ingredients, spend the whole afternoon preparing, decorate the dishes, match with different kind of wine... of course at the end of the day everyone will say that the dishes are delicious, excellent...

Most importantly, his parents will be pleased and touched.

Sometimes he even share his cooking recipes, ideas, experiences with his mother. He would teach her how to cook a dish. They both then went to buy the ingredients together. When the food is prepared, they think of way to improve, why it didn't turn out as expected...

Chinese always say that they are filial piety to their parents. Can you say that my husband is not nice to his parents? How many of you have ever spent the efforts in preparing your parents a nice meal??? You should be ashamed! Quickly make this as your one of your new year's resolutions before it is too late. :-)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Miss France gets to keep her title

Miss France 2008 will keep her crown, despite racy photos that appeared recently in a gossip magazine, but will not compete in the Miss World or Miss Universe pageants.

Valerie Begue, 22, will not be stripped of the title she won Dec. 8, but will not be allowed to take part in upcoming international competitions, Miss France organizers said Friday.

Begue described the outcome as "a compromise which satisfies all parties."

The pageant's criteria stipulates that candidates must "never have posed or exhibited (themselves) in dubious outfits or poses, partially or totally nude."

Photos published in Entrevue magazine last week included one of a bikini-clad Begue lying on a cross in a swimming pool and another of her licking what appeared to be yogurt or evaporated milk.

Begue is a native of France's Indian Ocean island of Reunion. She is to be replaced in international pageants by the first runner-up, Vahinerii Requillart, Miss New Caledonia.

I don't know why she got to keep the title. If she can't represent France to compete in the international competition, she is not Miss France.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

French president's new girlfriend

The French president has a new girlfriend now. Her name is Carla Bruni, an x-model and now singer-composer. She is 39 years old.

I thought this president has too many thing in his agenda that after the divorce, he will stay single and focus on his career. I forgot he is still a man and need a pretty woman to be on his side.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The beautiful parents

In French we call the parents in laws the "beautiful parents" (les beaux parents). What strikes me is that even the unmarried couple call their partner's parents "my beautiful parents". For example, I was asking what everyone else would be doing during Christmas, those single classmates with girlfriend boyfriend replied that they would spend a day with their parents, another day with their "beautiful parents".

When they said that I always thought that they are married. The family structure here is so untraditional these days. You can have couple who are together forever with children but still not married. It still sound weird to me when I see kids call the couple "dad" and "mum", but when the "dad" introduces the "mum" he would say this is my "girlfriend". These days you can even hear the kid in the class asking the other kid:"What? You only have four grandparents? I have EIGHT!" Yes it is totally possible to have eight grandparents. I will let you figure out yourself.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Ah, what a waste, I got sicked during Christmas.

After the Christmas big meal, we went to sleep at around 1am. My stomach was hurting the whole night (I haven't taken much goose liver). Then I puked in the room at around 4am, dirtying the bed and the room. What a shame!!! Hubby cleaned up everything, so nice of him!!

Lunch on Christmas is always my favorite: roasted chicken with chestnut. I had to cook porridge for myself, didn't dare to eat much the chicken and chestnut.

I hope I won't vomit again tonight. :-(

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas decoration in the neighborhood

There is this house in the neighborhood who has nice decoration every year. It becomes so famous that a lot of people just come to have a look when Christmas approaching.

This year they even created a website:

The house owner put a lot of effort in decorating their house, and sometimes they are outside welcoming the visitors. This year they will have Santa Clause and candies for the kids. They do this for free.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yeah the holiday started!

I was so glad when my exams finished. Now let's forget about them and start celebrating!

Yeah, I started the celebration and went with a bunch of classmates to a cafe. I have to say that I love them so much, I'm lucky to have met so many nice French. Even though I'm older than all of them, I didn't feel much gap when I'm with them.

We continued the celebration with a feast with my in-laws. Yeah, Christmas is in two days but we already started the eating tours. I had eaten oysters, crabs, seafood pumpkin soup and many others good French food so far. More to come!!!

I wish you all merry Christmas and super happy new year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My first presentation in French

I learnt a lot! It was just a 10 minutes presentation, but the whole process was just amazing.

I would really like to thank my professor who invited me to join this conference and assured me that this is more important than an exam (I was exempted from an exam for this).

At the beginning, I was not very confident for this presentation, and got even scarier when the main speaker, a Spanish woman told me that Asian governments emphasis more on money and economy than really create a knowledge society. So Singapore, the country I will present, shouldn't be qualified as a digital city. My title of the presentation was "Singapore, the digital city" and she was telling me that I was wrong. Wow.

During the conference, she repeated that she doesn't consider Singapore as a digital city since it is not a knowledge society. At this point Only Europe could be considered as knowledge society. According to her, a knowledge society is a society where people from the bottom take the initiative to access and create knowledge than being pushed by the government. However after my presentation, an audience commented that while the idea of initiative from people is ideal and nice, people should be taught of using different tools to access and create knowledge. He mentioned some example that I gave during my presentation. Wow this guy just saved me! At least someone benefited from my presentation.

After all it was not so scary to give a presentation in French. What I found scary was how to intelligently answer a spontaneous question. I think I didn't reply well to a question asked by the host.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wish me shit shit shit!

One exam down and two more to go. Just finished the power point slide for tomorrow's presentation, and I really don't know how I will perform since it is going to be in French. In France when wishing someone all the best, they will say "merde, merde, merde." = Shit, shit, shit.

I thought that since they told me "shit shit shit" then the more shit the better. So one day I told hubby that "I wish you plenty of shit" in French. He laughed so hard because it meant that I wish him full of shit.

So please just wish me shit shit shit but not full of shit ok? :-)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Life is like a battle field

I felt like I just came back from a battle field.

This morning I fought with the HR:
I'm the best, just give me a job!

This afternoon I fought with my classmates:
The topic I'm presenting is interesting, so listen to me!

And constantly fight with myself: I'm good, I'm good, I'm good, even in French.

Finally, home sweet home. Relax. Watched Dexter with hubby. Hubby cooked nice pasta for dinner.

It is just the beginning of the week but I feel like I'm dead already.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My weekly fruit supply: Apples!

I can live without many things but my mouth itches when I'm out of fruit. I will have a busy week in front of me so getting fruit supply is essential. My nice hubby went to buy all kind of apples freshed out from an apple farm!! Look at all these different kind of species. I tried several of them and they were crunchy and sweet and juicy!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My planning next week

Mon: Morning - Internship interview, Afternoon - big presentation
Tue: Whole day listening to other groups' presentation
Wed: Exam
Thurs: 10 minutes presentation to a government body, in FRENCH!
Fri: 2 exams

At this point, I still haven't finished my Monday presentation power point slides. Not to mention about interview preparation, revision for the exams, think about what to present to the government body.

So don't ask me what I want for Christmas, it's the least important thing in my list!!

Friday, December 14, 2007 to stop their free delivery services

I love buying stuffs from, they offer free delivery for some products like books and CDs.

This week, was fine 100,000 euros by the Bookstore Union, as this online giant didn't respect the fixed price of the books they are selling. Apparently in France, every book has a fixed price, and the most one can do is to sell the book 5% below the fixed price. Since Amazon is selling below this 5% discount, it is hurting other independent businesses. Amazon is ordered to cancel their free delivery services too.

At one point I enjoy the free delivery and cheaper book price, I don't want to see the independent bookstores go bankrupt due to this unfair competition. Amazon is basically selling at lost and get profit from somewhere else. Independent bookstores won't be able to conduct a price war with Amazon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I passed the logic test!

Yes, I did it. I'm so happy. I know there are still long way to go before I can really get a job or an internship, but at least this set me to an interview = open door to a job.

We had to do two tests.The first one was pretty common type of logical test. The second one was all domino test, at least they were not testing my French!

Now let see whether you can solve this:

Go to comment for answer. :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I'm going to have an internship interview tomorrow. The first hour will be the presentation of the company, the second hour will be the logical test. Only candidates who have positive test score will be called for interview. My goal is to at least pass the test. I tried to do some test online and I found it quite difficult. I like mathematic questions but those with French language I failed miserably. I hope they won't test too much about French expressions.

Anyway, it seems that for every interview, you need to prepare to talk about your strengths and weaknesses. My classmate said my strong point is the ability to adapt in different situations as I have moved from Malaysia to USA then to France. My husband said I work hard. In terms of weakness, I found on internet that nobody will reveal their real weaknesses and a good interviewer shouldn't have asked this question. But, I was asked this question before so I will need to talk about it. I'm going to say that I work too hard until I sacrifice my leisure time. What do you think?

Can anyone share the "nice" strengths and weaknesses to talk about? This is going to be a consultant position.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Eating, speaking with handsome guys, and party

It was our inter-alumni party night and it was an eye opening event. Around 50 seniors came from around the country and some from overseas to share their professional experiences with us. I was a little bit timid and stayed in my corner, nonetheless I managed to speak with some nice people, including those handsome guys. :-) The organizer prepared a slide show about us in the class and how we behave during discussion, presentation... The party ended...where do you think? It has to be a nightclub with alcohol and smoke and dance.

In the dancing floor, I look at those people, crazily drinking, smoking and dancing, and couldn't associate them with their professional life. I remember one of my managers in US was so drunk at one company function that he become the laughing target for several weeks. And here I was looking at the bright and energetic talents, and wondering why everyone in this country just need to end up in a place doing this kind of stuff. Is there no better thing to do in life than drinking and smoking? I'm not judging anyone, but I have tried to put myself in their shoes and just couldn't see why a party has to be associated with alcohol.

Another remark, if this party was held in Malaysia, most of the budget will be spent on food. In this party, cost covered hard liquor like whiskey and vodka. It won't surprise you if I tell you that I was hungry and went for a kebab at the end right?

Friday, December 07, 2007

I had a fabulous semester, and lunch

Despite the fact that I'm stressed over the internship and my French level, I have had a fabulous semester. What left now are some projects to be completed, some presentation to be taken care of and of course the scary final examinations.

Most of the professors are very competent, friendly and willing to share their experiences, especially those who work professionally in the high tech lines. I felt very sad at the end of some classes, as we wouldn't have classes again with them in the next semester. They have given me a lot of constructive suggestions on how I can progress in my career when I finish school.

On the other hand bond has been built between classmates. In our class there is an association who takes up the responsible to organize events to foster the friendship between classmates. We have went out several times to restaurants, and this coming Saturday the guys are having a football match and we will have an inter-alumni night soon. The inter-alumni night will provide opportunity for us to talk to the alumni.

Despite the fact that I don't like to air kiss people in the morning, my classmates have been extremely nice to me. All of the foreign students are francophone who speak good French, so people tolerate my French mistake and try help me out as much as they can. There is no sense of competition among class or "kiasu" spirit, I found this pretty amazing. One of the class was held in French and very technical, some of my classmates approached me and expressed concern whether I could understand and whether I need help. Brief, I have met a bunch of nice people here.

In terms of the cost, the cheapest ever paid in my life for this kind of quality education: 208 euros per year.

Hubby cooked this for lunch: Sesame tuna with rice and salad

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Minimum wage at 1500€

The socialist party in France is trying to push the minimum wage to 1500€ per month. Currently it stands at around 1200€. Their reason being that the current salary is not sufficient for a family to cover the inflated living expenses. Of course every minimum wage workers welcome this reform.

When I first arrived in France I was shocked on how little people in this country earn. Currently, students who have master degree have entry salary at around 1500€, depending on city and sector where they work. Then, I discovered that a cleaning lady is earning 300€ less than someone who is a degree holder. Salary climbs like a snail, and don't think about year end bonuses, they are basically non existence. Companies couldn't afford to give employees other benefits, as when they pay an employee 1500€, they are paying around the same amount to the government as taxes.

Minimum wage increases = cost of business increases = prices increase = less opportunity for salary increase = earn the same salary with higher inflation.

At one point, I asked myself whether I should just hide my education level and go look for a minimum wage job. This kind of job won't care if I speak or write perfect French. What's the point to study 5 more years then earn 300€ more?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

How to write like a French in 3 months?


If you know of any secrets in improving the writing skills for a language you pick up 2 1/2 years ago as an adult, let me know.

I feel ashame of my French level especially the writing part. This becomes critical as we are all looking for an internship, and I just couldn't produce a nice motivation letter or CV without asking hubby for help.

It has important consequences. I got kicked out for an internship opportunity while everyone in my class who applied for it got called for an interview. I know this could be from many reasons, the fact that I'm older than the rest of the class, that I'm married and no kids (company doesn't want to risk hire a woman who will get pregnant soon), that I'm Asian (the are bunch of French looking for job)... and that I don't write good French.

The reality is cruel, as long as I don't speak and write good French, I'm nobody in this country.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Suddenly the yellow skin is considered beautiful

I was shocked seeing a yellow skin woman won Miss World 2007. Can you imagine it has never happened before since 1954? The yellow skin beauty from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and even Malaysia had all lost in the pass. When I was young, I would watch Miss World during the night, and those in the finalist were always the blonds or the South Americans or Indians. There was a saying that the Asian beauties were too short, their style didn't suit the western judgement, they didn't speak good English...As far as I know only Maggie Cheong managed to qualify as one of the 15 finalists in 1983.

And today, a Chinese won. Wow. I saw the crowing moment, and she is taller than all the finalist. But, I strongly suspect this has to do with the raising of Chinese political and economical power. She was telling the world how she wishes China can successfully organize the 2008 Olympic Games and the judges were "touched". Isn't it a nice moment to "give face" to the Chinese?

When Ann Lee won the Oscar in 2001 I was thinking what the hell was going on. I didn't believe my eyes watching the big screen in the Time Squares in NY. Now, I won be surprised if more Chinese win in any global or international events.

In 21 century, the world has to "kow-tow" to the Chinese, not the other way round.

Here shows which region won the Miss World in the past. India scored well, but see in Asia the yellow skin countries has only won once, and that is from China in 2007.

Europe (24 titles won)
United Kingdom (4)
Iceland and Sweden (3)
Austria, Netherlands (2)
Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Russia and Turkey (1)

Americas (13 titles won)
Venezuela (5)
Argentina, Peru and United States (2)
Bermuda and Brazil (1)

Asia-Pacific (9 titles won)
India (5)
Australia (2)
Guam and China (1)

Caribbean (7 titles won)
Jamaica (3)
Dominican Republic, Grenada, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago (1)

Africa (4 titles won)
South Africa (2)
Egypt and Nigeria (1)

Monday, December 03, 2007

French Expression: Give a rabbit

When a French gives you a rabbit, don't accept it! It means that he is standing you up! Give a rabbit in French means people who misses the appointment without informing the party waiting for him/her. In Chinese it means 放飞机.

Left photo:"I need to go for my appointment."
"Why? Didn't you want to give him a rabbit?"
Right photo:"Exactly."

Anyone has could come up with an explanation why give some a rabbit means stand someone up? My reasoning being that once you put the rabbit on the floor, it would just runaway, you won't see the rabbit again. Same thing, you won't see the guy you are having appointment with when he decided "to give you a rabbit".

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Should the French work on Sunday?

Me and hubby: Yes
Our couple friends: No
There goes the debate on why and why not. I don't want to go into the detail of what we had discussed, but what strikes me is about their thinking: If there is something they don't want to do, other people shouldn't do as well. Reason being if some people are allowed to do that, they will have to force to do it one day. A very selfish thinking, but that shapes the mentality of the French:
- If I don't want to work on Sunday, other people who want to shouldn't be allowed to do that
- If I don't want to go study, let's block the school/University so that others can't study too
- If I'm not happy with my pension fund, let's bother others to show them how important our job is

Based on this mentality, even there are people expressing their willingness to work on Sunday (work more to gain more), people who don't want to work on Sunday fight to prevent this from happening. Their reasoning could sound absurd, but sadly it could happen in France:
If my coworker willing to work on Sunday, that means he works harder than me. One day my boss will think I'm lazy if I refuse to work on Sunday. So we shouldn't let this happen, Sunday is for family gathering and nobody should work on that day, except those in the emergency and leisure industry.

And they are not wrong. In real life, if everyone in your department work until 9pm everyday, would your dare to leave work at 5pm? If your boss asks you to work on Sunday and everyone else said yes, would you dare to say no?

When I was studying in Malaysia, I worked part time in a department store. My supervisor who has married would arrange students to work on Sunday so that those who have family didn't have to work on Sunday. I was very happy to work on Sunday as it was the day where most sales occurred (more sales = more commission), plus I lived with my family so I see them everyday and eat with them for every dinner. But this might not work in France. If students work on Sunday, they might not have chance to go home to see their parents.

On the other hand, shops operate on Sunday can boost the purchasing and stimulate the economy. Directly and indirectly it will create more jobs. Let say you have an option: You can get a job that requires you to work on Sunday, or stay unemployed. Which one would you choose? Me definitely choose to work.