Sunday, March 30, 2008

Day light saving time started

On the last Sunday of March, France and European Union switch on the day light saving time. This morning, while reaching 2am, my computer time actually went directly to 3am. It means that there is only 6 hours differences between France and Malaysia instead of 7 hours during the winter.

I'm glad I was with some friends who happened to tell me about the time changes. Since Monday I will start my internship, imagine arriving at 9am and realized that you are late as it was already 10am.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

No graduation ceremony in France

Well, the school is over, and I just realized that I won't have a graduation ceremony like what I did in Malaysia and USA. There will be no graduation gown, photo session, family and friends coming over to celebrate with me. Only at this moment I realized how much Malaysia's education systems have been influenced by the Anglo-saxon culture. I grow up watching graduation ceremony for pre-school, primary school, second school and University.

Graduation photo session in University of Malaya. Different collar color represents different discipline (Sains, Business, Engineering...).

Graduation ceremony in the USA. Throwing the cap to the sky (cap toss) is one of the ceremony traditions.

During the ceremony (commencement).

Personally I do not mind to not have the graduation ceremony since I had had two in my life. But for the other students, won't they miss something wonderful in their life? Anyone knows whether other European countries like Germany or Switzerland are having this kind of ceremony?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Class over

Thursday we had our last class. During the night we had a party. It is hard to believe that I won't see some of the classmates for a while, or for the rest of my life.

Overall, it had been a very nice class. Classmates have been very friendly. I will miss the time we went to eat in the canteen, prepared for our presentation, having coffee and tea break, taking about the internship, making fun of people, their funny accent when speak English...

C'est la vie like the French said. "People will face sadness, happiness, separation and reunion" like the Chinese saying. No matter what saying, I enjoyed a lot the friendship from these people, and I will miss them. The time for nostalgia is already started.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

France threatens boycott the Beijing Olympic Games

With the riot in Tibet, the French medias have been talking about the possibility of France boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic games. Almost everyday the 8pm prime time news will show how brutal the way the Chinese authority treats the riot, and how they closed and manipulated the information to the Chinese people. Due to this media cloture, the Chinese surveyed on the road said "they don't think it's that serious", "they don't care about the current situation in Tibet", "they are not scared". The French medias blame the ignorant Chinese about Tibet independence movement as the result of medias manipulation of the Chinese government.

Personally, I don't think the Chinese have no other way to get the information about Tibet situation. A lot of Chinese actually know how to hack the firewall and have access to many websites that are not authorized by the Chinese government. I kind of agreed to a statement by a Chinese girl during interview:"Don't mix politic with sport!"

I don't think it's going to do much if other countries boycott the Olympic games. The Chinese will just win more medals for themselves, with no change to the way they treat the Tibetans. The pressure has to come from the Chinese people themselves.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Men with two wives

Malaysian Islamic allows the muslim to have up to 4 wives. However, in reality, I have never known of any Muslim friends who have more than one wife. Therefore it was shocking to see a politician to have 2 wives in his biodata one day in a local newspaper.

I think it was Datuk Ahmad Said, who is the MB of Terengganu and leading to all the political saga these days. While I couldn't find back the biodata I saw that day, in today's staronline they no longer say he has two wives, instead that he is married to Norliza Mahmud and have 8 children. I thought I was wrong, but then I saw another article talking about how his wife is in stress due to the current situation, and she has 4 children. While, if Datuk Ahmad has 8 children and she has 4 children, that means the other 4 children are from a different mother.

So, is the media trying to hide the fact that he is married to two wives? Are Malaysians less acceptance to bigamy policy now?

Another politician who has two wives is Datuk Seri Hadi from PAS, he has 14 children.

Anyone know of Malaysians who have 3-4 wives?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Final exam week

We are having our final exams this week before starting our internship. Having studied in three different countries for degree and master program, I have to say that the way the final exams are carried are very different and it has largely influenced the I prepare for the exam.

In Malaysia (bachelor program):
Every paper had one final exam. It was very painful as all of the exams were open questions and you have to memorize the whole book to be able to score well. Of course I didn't do well as I didn't like this exam method. To add the pain the courses were taught in Malays and all text books were in English.

In USA (master program):
The exam system suited me well, as grades were distributed out to projects and final exams did not weight as much to the total grade. The most exciting part was that most of the time it was open book system, you can refer to whatever reference you want during the exams. Sometimes I was allowed to bring in a piece of "cheat sheet", where you put all the relevant formulas or definition in an A4 size paper and bring with you during the exam. Scored very well in this system.

In France (master program):
This course has very big influence from USA system since we are having partnership with Georgia State University. Most of the class don't have final exams. We are evaluated through our presentation, group projects and case study analysis. I will have 2 exams coming. I have to say that the exam questions from first semester were a lot tougher than those I had in USA. I couldn't tell how well I score as we haven't gotten the grades from the first semester! The professor is too busy he still hasn't come out with his grade thus delaying all other grades.

Conclusion: Personally I think the US and French system are a lot better than those in Malaysia, but the fact that I'm having master courses rather than degree might raise the differences. Since it is my second master program I do not have much motivation, as long as I can pass it will be ok. :-) Don't really care for my CGPA, plus the French have 20 point system so nobody will understand what it means anyway. Nobody has every gotten 20/20 so why bother?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Let the seniors teach the juniors

There is one aspect in my course that I really love and think they should be implemented in the Malaysian education system. It is the strong ties between the alumni and the current students from the same course and same school.

With the strong link, we manage to have a network who provide useful advises and powerful network contact in looking for an internship. Some alumni actually sent us the internship offers from their company and we got to contact the HR recruiter directly.

Most importantly, the school hired some seniors to share their professional knowledge and experiences in the class. This enables us to expose to the latest trend and skills demand in the industry. Recently we had a seminar, one senior actually brought along his company director for a very interesting topic. What impresses me is their willingness to keep the ties and share their precious knowledges. As a result, more companies have confident in our course and do not hesitate to hire us.

I used to think that there is no free lunch in the world, so free/cheap education system must lead to low quality education. I have to say that I'm very wrong, this course certainly provide the best price/quality return I have ever have. :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Doraemoon the Japanese Cultural Ambassador

The popular Japanese cartoon character Doraemoon has a new mission, this time from the Foreign Minister of Japan. He is hired to promote the Japanese culture to the world and try to make friends to as many people as possible.

I'm an all time big fan for Doraemoon. While a lot of kids are crazy about American cartoons, I always opt for the Japanese one, especially Doraemoon.

Therefore, I'm glad Doraemoon becomes the Japanese cultural ambassador, I hope I can meet him one day!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tricky pricing strategy

Price for one pack of Belin peanut corn snack: 0.87 euro

Guess how much it cost for two packs wrapped together as promotional item?

Answer: 2.14


Yes, you got it, the unit price for buying two packs is more expensive than buying one. Something I learnt in France, do not automatically consider things will be cheaper when you buy in bigger quantity. A lot of people got tricked this way, conveniently buying products that are displayed in the promotional racks, packed in several quantities or during discount time. Basically, you have to check out price per kg for every items.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Paris Housing Crisis: Apartment and Sex

A friend sent me this article, talking about the housing crisis in France especially in the Paris areas. People actually offer room (for those who couldn't afford the rent) in exchange for different kind of services: sex.

I have yet to know anybody around my social circle who couldn't find an accommodation in Paris. When I was going to take up the internship there, I quickly came through several options. One of them being staying in those Chinese run bed and breakfast, offering around 15-20 a night, dinner included. If not, there are a lot of Chinese students willing to rent out their living room to share the rent.

I have to say that I have a very different mentality than the French. I have gotten used to sharing room and space with other people, so living in a living room was not shocking to me. Of course I didn't really do it since I was not going to Paris anymore. Easy said than done.

The point is, we are all having housing crisis in the French standard in terms of space and privacy. To tell you the true, I'm actually missing the time I lived with my family (8 people in 3 rooms house), and with friends during my University time (12 people in 3 rooms apartment).

Friday, March 14, 2008

French civil servant: What motives you?

We had a case study, in which we had to help 200 civil servants to change their job habit in transition from paperwork to non-paperwork. The average age of the workers are around 50 years old (several years before retirement) and mostly women. The management sensed that this change might upset their employees and the productivity rate might drop after the implementation of the new system. They hired us, the consultant, for the change management plan.

While drawing out the plan, it came to point that I proposed to come out with rewards to motivate them into this change.

Naturally I proposed ideas that seems to work in Malaysia or US:
1. Let the 12 departments compete among them. The department with the highest productivity will win a week of vacation somewhere.

Idea rejected. Reason: The French don't like competition in work. The work union will certainly oppose this idea.

2. If the whole company manages to maintain their productivity rate for the first 3 months after the new system, everybody will go for weekend vacation in a domestic location.

Idea rejected: The French won't be tempted just by a weekend vacation.

3. Increase their salary

Idea rejected: They are nearly on retirement, money is not a motivator anymore.

At this point I won't even want to try other methods like best department team, best employees awards....

The main problem are: The French civil servant won't get fired, so they won't care about their productivity. They just want people to leave them alone, let them do their 9-6 job and don't expect extra things from them.

I regret that I didn't know the French culture enough to propose more workable ideas. It is time for me to really observe the French culture. If the French manages to have one of the highest productivity rate in the world, I must have missed out something (I'm not being sarcastic). Our teacher (professional consultant) told us that in France, the change management usually deals more with the users psychology than technical elements.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Salt desert!

On tonight's Pekin Express (similar to Amazing Race in US), the contestants were asked to cross the salt desert by foot. A desert full of salt!!! This is the first I heard of it and it is simply impressive and stunning. It used to be salt lake. It is located in Bolivia, a place called Salar de Uyuni.

I'm not sure I could cross this desert by foot though.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I got my pork jerky from Singapore

Wow wow. This Saturday we went to pick up our pork jerky, brought to me by a friend who went back to Singapore to celebrate Chinese New Year. We were very excited once we got it as I had to stop hubby from eating immediately.

Once open, each of us got 4 pieces of jerky to ourself, and I have finished up my quota in two days. He still has 2 pieces left. It is time to steal from him. :-)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

How will the opposition share the cake

The opposition coalition won 5 states and are forming the new governments.

It is then the time to share the victory cake.

By logic, the party who won the most state seats should be the state government leader (Menteri Besar), but this logic is challenged by the current constitution, where only a Malay Muslim can lead the state, with only exception to Penang.

With this constitution in mind, PAS is going to lead Kelantan, Kedah and Perak, PKR in Selangor and DAP in Selangor. The situation becomes very tricky for Perak.

Perak state seats won by:
DAP 18

But PAS will be the leader for Perak, despite holding the least seats among the opposition.

The reason, DAP has no Malay Muslim candidate even though they hold the most seats. The logic will be to look within PKR. Unfortunately, among the 7 candidates, there are only three Malay Muslim who do not hold too high position in the party. So, PAS will lead Perak.

This general election is giving a strong message to the government that the people is tired of race based politic. And here again, we are limited by race politic.

DAP Perak president could not be the Menteri Besar (MB) despite winning the most seats in the states, simply because he is not a Malay Muslim. DAP is trying to get the Perak Sultan to agree in appointing a non muslim, but I don't know how much chance they have. And I heard that PKR wanted their people to be the vice MB.

Let see how they share the cake, eventually.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Malaysian political blogger gets in to the parliament

Holly shit, the power of blogging! This guy is so popular in the Malaysia bloggerspace and now he is in the parliament representing Malaysians. Cool!

Opposition won over Penang, Kedah and Kelantan

Wow, earthquake in Malaysia!

The opposition has successfully taken over 3 states, created history moment for Malaysian politic.

Until now, the alliance of DAP, PKR and PAS have won 24 seats over 40 in Penang. These three parties will form the state government. It is time for the opposition parties to prove their ability! A lot been said during the election campaign, it is time to act and to prove how they could perform better than the current government. It is very important that they hold on to their promises, as the whole country is watching. If Penang is under good control in their hand, it would be more persuasive that they have the ability to take over other states in the future.

Bravo Malaysia for this change!

I'm happy for this change, but at the same time worried about the future of MCA and Gerakan. Will UMNO punish them and diminish their influence in the coalition?

Friday, March 07, 2008

French local election Vs Malaysian general election

This weekend, both France and Malaysia will have election.

The French one is just a local/municipal election, while Malaysia is having the general election.

It has been a lot of critics in Malaysia where the coalition in power parties control the main medias, thus leading the election campaign; while the opposition parties have relatively smaller media coverage and budget to attract voters' attention.

In this context, I think France has an efficient system. Our local candidates' posters arrived to us in the same envelope. Each candidate presents his team, agendas and what he is planning to do to the community. We can make comparison immediately. If one would like to have more information, he or she can simply refer to their website. This way, not much money is wasted and the posters reached the target audience.

Just imagine you receive the posters from Song Choi Leng (MCA)
Lim Guan Eng (DAP) for the Bagan area. Both of them have the same space and same budget for their propaganda. You read and you compare and vote for whoever pleases you better. Both site get to express their agenda, as simple as that.

Sadly, I don't know how long Malaysia could reach the French level in terms of fairness in election publicity and communication. Every asked when I told them I have no right to vote from France. It sound so weird to the French that I can't even vote from the embassy here.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

We won

We had a simulation games today. We were divided in groups and had to sell a solution to a company (played by students). Among the four groups, we were chosen. We won the project, wow!

It was a meaningful win as despite my broken French, I managed to transmit the message during my presentation. Besides, my team mates were able to understand me and helped me transform the ideas into written form. It boost up my confidence to stay competitive in the French speaking world.

On the other hand, the professor had a very valuable remark. I was proposing a solution and justified it through the French culture, in which I pointed out the French "resist to change", directly in front of a group of French directors (played by students). In the professional world, it would have caused us the project, as it would created dissatisfaction due to my insensibility to the culture and pride of the audiences. The French students didn't find it offensive, as they have gotten used to my critics all the times. :-) Still, a note to myself.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Movie: Into the Wild

Excellent movie. Directed by Sean Penn.

The story is about a guy ventured into Alaska from West Virginia, living in the wild without any outside world interruption. At the end of the journey, he discovered that:

"Happiness is only real when it's shared".

Do you agree with him?

I would rephrase the sentence:

"Happiness is amplified when shared".

Monday, March 03, 2008

I have my internship!

Yes, after several months of intense looking, I have finally found an internship.

In fact, I got two offers, and I have to turn down the one which I love, as the internship will be placed in Paris. Fortunately both offers have interesting mission.

Well, very soon, I will have to start driving daily to a city that is 100km from mine. Considering that I drove each way 38 miles per day to go to my school in USA, it shouldn't be a big problem, I hope.

Well, thanks for listening to all my whining about the difficulty in looking for an internship. I really hope this would lead to a good start towards my career in France! Thanks to people who have taught me to be patience and perseverance in my life!