Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Well, I signed a proposition with the company where I did my internship, but our deal has not been finalized as I haven't signed any contract yet.

Anyway, it means:
- I finally found a job after 3 years in France
- I have to continue doing the carpooling as I didn't have enough luck to find anything close to my city
- after 6 months of internship, I still need to go through 3 months probation period and this probation could be renewed for another 3 months
- I will have to perform well during these 3 months else facing the consequence of losing the job (and yes it has happened to some people)
- I have started building a nice relationship with my coworkers

Just hope everything goes well during these first 3 months of my career life in France!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Loving the red leaves

On the last day of my internship, I overslept, thus had to drive alone, and parked further from my company.

Then I discovered all these red leaves, charmingly decorating the parking lot. I don't know why but trees in Nantes usually turn directly from green to yellow during autumn, I guess it has to do with the species of trees they have.

Can't believe summer is over, it feels like it has never arrived.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


One of my carpoolers sent me these photos.

He said he is the one who lifted his arms. I can't imagine carpool like this.

New radar, hard to tell it is a radar from the other side. Have to be careful with these!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Public transport in Nantes paralyzed for a day

Something weird happened this morning when I was driving to the parking lot where I meet my carpoolers.

Already, at 7++ in the morning, I had to slow down due to heavy traffics. Surprisingly, when I arrived at the parking lot, there was no one spot available. I confirmed with the others and they have never seen this as well.

Then, we heard on the radio that public transport in Nantes will be paralyzed for a day. Apparently, the majority of the bus drivers decided to go on strike, this time not for salary or working condition, but for their beloved colleague who was killed by her own bus.

This driver of 41 years old, a mother of 3 children, was killed last Friday morning by when trying to unblock the bus door. She didn't put on the handbrake, the bus rowed on and crashed her. What a tragedy!

I pity those who had to walk minutes or hours to get to work. This is one of the cons of public transport. Even though the system is efficient and reliable, your day could be just screwed up if some of the drivers decided to go on strike.

Hubby's first demonstration

Despite being French, hubby has never participated in any strike or demonstration.

Last Saturday, he went for his first demonstration by joining the other 10,000 people who showed up, to ask for what he really believes in: Reunite Loire Atlantic with Brittany.

A brief history: Loire Atlantic was separated from the Brittany region during the second worldwar. It joined other cities to form "Pays de la Loire" region.

Another theme of the day was to defend the right of amateurs in organizing cultural events without having to pay taxes like the professional one. Which makes a lot of sense, as a lot of Fest-noz (Brittany dance festival) are organized by volunteers and this ensures the continuation of the Celtic culture.

The crowd also asked for the teaching of Breton (Brittany language) in the public school to keep this language alive. I was a bit surprised that France does not encourage the usage of regional language. The government has banned the local from speaking Breton and only recently they allow certain schools to include Breton in their curriculum.

Look at the crowd! Of course the cooperating weather inspired a lot of people to go outdoor too.

No Brittany demonstration is going to go by without the Celtic music. After the demonstration, the crowd went on for a fest-noz until 10:30pm.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It is all over now!

What a week of madness! I'm so glad everything is over now.

My presentation (soutenance) went very well. I got 17/20 on the report and I'm satisfied. Since my internship tutor couldn't come, I didn't get a grade for the professionalism. Too bad as I'm sure I will get a good one from him.

There was only one jury for the presentation, and we just discussed in a very relax atmosphere. At one point I was so fluent in French and spoke so fast that I shocked myself. :-) I participated for other classmates presentations and gosh, they got asked so many tricky questions! Mine went well as I present what he (the jury) wanted to know so for the remaining question and answer session, he has nothing left to ask. We just went over some of the culture difference in the corporate world.

During the night some classmates came over for a small celebration. It was so nice to see them again. I realized that I really miss them and they are certainly among the people that I would like to keep in touch.

Adieu my University!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Report sent, presentation on the way

I finally sent out the report yesterday. We worked on it until wee hour yesterday. Hubby had been amazingly patient. He basically took care of all the cooking, washing,plus translating and formatting my report. I didn't know he could be so versatile.

Had a rest tonight but tomorrow it will be tango all over again. I have to prepare the power point slide and present my report on Friday. By then, I will no longer be a student and I'm not eager to go back to a classroom anytime soon. Adieu my student life!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Working on the internship report

The deadline is Tuesday and I still have tons of stuffs to write. The hardest part is to write everything in French. Today, me, Fabien and my in laws were all working on it, with me being the commander and the rest taking orders from me. At one point it was so funny as there were three laptops and one desktop all being occupied for the same mission. Tasks were dedicated to:

Hubby for translation especially the part that reflexes my point of views;
MIL to ensure no grammatical errors in the report;
FIL to draw diagram for a recommended solution

That's the spirit of a family!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 years since 911

I was in Austin when the World Trade Center got attacked by the terrorists. It was quite a shock to the American society, but since we were far away, life got on. The only immediate inconveniences were that a shopping center was closed for a day, and we had to cancel our trip to Toronto as most of the flights were canceled. Thanks to the good customer service we got 100% refund from American Airlines.

On 2001, the US economy was in crisis and our company implemented force vacation for its employees. I was on a different work program so it didn't concern me. Still, I decided to take some days off to visit New York. That was back in April 2001 so the World Trade Centers were still there. Never would I think that these towers will disappear on my second visit.

The World Trade Center in April 2001.

I went back to New York with hubby in December 2002 for Christmas vacation. It was emotional to go back to the same place and those Towers had disappeared. We passed by a fence where people from all over the world put on some words in different languages, praying for those sacrificed in the 911 attacks.

New York City without World Trade Center, photo taken on December 2002.

Hopefully we could make another trip to New York when the rebuilding and foundations works have completed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Farewell lunch

A co-worker is leaving the agency so we went out for lunch together. He paid for the apéro, and each of us paid for the rest of the meal. This got me realized how different a farewell lunch is in France compared to Malaysia and US. I told him that he is not lucky as in these countries either the coworkers or the bosses will pay for the lunch.

When I left my company in Malaysia, my boss actually paid for a buffet meal in a private club! The food was so delicious there. When I left my company in Austin, the department paid for the meal for everyone who attended the farewell lunch plus a souvenir.

In France, depending on the sector, companies usually don't have much budget for social interaction activities between the employees. Sometime we get some champagne and appetizers when there are something to celebrate. The company committee will organize some get together events but not as often as what I had experienced in US.

Another common way of saying goodbye is to bring in some breakfast and ask everyone to pass by. Still the leaving person will pay for everything. On the other hand, I found it make a of sense as those leaving usually have already found other assignments or will leave the company for good. He or she will face other exciting challenges well those who stay will have to suck it up and go back to the same old same old work routine. Why should companies invest on people who are leaving them anyway?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tire incident

I was driving to work and suddenly heard an explosion. The car lost balance and I had to stop on the side. Apparently I hit the road barrier that are everywhere to slow down the traffic. So, catastrophe, my carpoolers changed the tire for me. Such a luck to start a week.

Today hubby had to go to a garage, and the tire will cost 280 euros. He called the garage in his parents' town, and the price is 180 euros. That is why we never trusted any garage here, as they simply charge exorbitant price if you don't know them.

So, we will have to make a trip to L-town this coming weekend. Including this weekend, we will have gone to this town 3 weekend continuously. I'm so not motivated.

Anyway knows a nice garage that will not overcharge in Nantes?

Monday, September 08, 2008

One year wedding anniversary

Today is our first year wedding anniversary (according to our French wedding). We were invited over to a party organized for us by an old couple, where they shared with us how they celebrated their anniversaries and how they manage to keep their wedding work for close to 40 years. Basically, they will choose a gift for each other according to the suggested list below:

1 an Coton (cotton)
2 ans Cuir (leather)
3 ans Froment (common wheat)
4 ans Cire (wax)
5 ans Bois (wood)
6 ans Chypre (perfume?)
7 ans Laine (Wool)
8 ans Coquelicot (corn poppy)
9 ans Faïence (faience)
10 ans Étain (tin)
11 ans Corail/Zinc (coral/zinc)
12 ans Soie (silk)
13 ans Muguet (lily of the valley)
14 ans Plomb (lead)
15 ans Cristal (crystal)
16 ans Saphir (sapphire)
17 ans Rose (rose)
18 ans Turquoise (turquoise)
19 ans Cretonne (cretonne)
20 ans Porcelaine (Porcelain)
21 ans Opale (opal)
22 ans Bronze (bronze)
23 ans Béryl (beryl)
24 ans Satin (sateen)
25 ans Argent (silver)
26 ans Jade (jade)
27 ans Acajou (mahogany)
28 ans Nickel (nickel)
29 ans Velours (velvet)
30 ans Perle (pearl)
31 ans Basane (sheep skin)
32 ans Cuivre (copper)
33 ans Porphyre (porphyry)
34 ans Ambre (amber)
35 ans Rubis (ruby)
36 ans Mousseline (muslin)
37 ans Papier (paper)
38 ans Mercure (mercury)
39 ans Crêpe (crepe)
40 ans Émeraude (emerald)
41 ans Fer (iron)
42 ans Nacre (nacre)
43 ans Flanelle (flannel)
44 ans Topaze (topaz)
45 ans Vermeil (vermeil)
46 ans Lavande (lavender)
47 ans Cachemire (cashmere wool)
48 ans Améthyste (amethyst)
49 ans Cèdre (cedar)
50 ans Or (gold)
51 ans Camélia (camellia)
52 ans Tourmaline (tourmaline)
53 ans Merisier (wild cherry)
54 ans Zibeline (sable)
55 ans Orchidée (orchidaceae)
56 ans Lapis-lazuli (lapis lazuli)
57 ans Azalée (rhododendron)
58 ans Érable (maple)
59 ans Vison (mink)
60 ans Diamant (diamond)
61 ans Platane (platanus)
62 ans Ivoire (ivory)
63 ans Lilas commun (common lilac)
64 ans Astrakan (karakul)
65 ans Palissandre (rosewood)
66 ans Jasmin (jasmine)
67 ans Chinchilla (chinchilla)
68 ans Granite (granite)
69 ans Mélèze (larch)
70 ans Platine (platinum)
75 ans Albâtre (alabaster)
80 ans Chêne (oak)
85 ans Uranium (uranium)
90 ans Granite (granite)
100 ans Eau (water)

Most of the items in this list are metals or flowers. Some of them are hard to find, so they had to be creative. Note that this is a French list and could be very different from other countries. We were very touched by their love story and how they had never missed or forgot one anniversary. Thinking about this, I think they are really romantic. I don't know any married friend celebrate their wedding anniversary so religiously like this French couple.

Well this really gave us idea on how to celebrate our anniversary.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Houses in Brittany

We were invited to a small village along the coast in Finistere, north Brittany facing the English Channel (the Sleeve or La Manche in French). They have many cute traditional Brittany houses, built with stone and grey color roof. At the beginning, I didn't like the idea that houses here could only have a standard grey color roof, but now I see how it harmonizes and gives a kind of charm and uniqueness to the scenery.

A typical Brittany house with the colorful Hortensia.

The roof of this house is built of "chaumière"

Seeing this house gives me impression that I'm in the Disneyland or inside a fairytale.

A house facing the Ocean, a bit lonely, no? Look at the rock, how does it manage to stay like this without falling?

Houses below were built in modern style. The roof is usually made of "l'ardoise", a kind of metamorphic stone that are abundant in this region.

I wish I could have a house like this one day. :-)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Drooling over the ramadhan foods

Ramadhan started this Monday. The month of Ramadhan is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, and is a month where Muslims must fast (”puasa” in Malay) from sunrise till sunset. In Malaysia, it basically means from 7:30am to 7:30pm.

This keeps me thinking about all the mouth watering ramadhan food in Malaysia. Usually the Muslims "buka puasa" (breaking of fast) around 7:30pm, so ramadan bazaar or "pasar ramadan" in Malay will start around 4pm and close before the buka puasa.

Ramadhan bazaar in Klang


All the photos below are taken from masak-masak blog, a very talented food photographer in Malaysia.
Hmm, give me a "ikan bakar" bbq fish anytime.

"ayam bakar" bbq chicken will make my day too.

Ketupat, best eaten with satay sauce or rendang.

This photo is so beautiful it amplifies the desire to eat the cake.

Look like a mini "roti canai" Indian bread to me. Best accompanied with some curry sauce.

The rainbow color layer cake.

To all my French friends who discovered agar agar in Malaysia, this one is dedicated to you! :-)

I wish I could in Malaysia now to savor all these goodies!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

La rentrée: life back to normal

Today is La rentrée, a big day in France. The medias have been taking about it over a week. It officially marks the end of summer holidays and the first day of the new school year for primary and secondary school students. The influence is substantial: students go back to school, parents go back to work, businesses become robust again, road workers continue the half way done construction works, and the traffic jam! Gone is the day where traffic flows smoothly in most cities except the touristic sites.

The topic of low purchasing power came back as well. Low income families were given subsidies to buy school equipments for their kids. It ranges from 150 euros to 250 euros per kid. I saw on TV that a mother was complaining that the aids of 200 euros were not enough, as her kid asked for Nike sport shoes, branded school accessories and clothes.

La rentrée was never being taken so seriously in my family back in Malaysia. For me, I just wore back the school uniforms passed down by my three sisters, reused the stationary and school bag. School shoes were standard white one for everyone, and I don't remember students tried to wear branded shoes to school. Text books were provided by the government. The only thing I needed to buy were some exercise books, which could be bought from the school bookstore. So, no need to do shopping and spend hundreds just to go back to school. Looking back, due to school uniform, we don't have to compare among each other, and no one is going to laugh at your school uniform, which is why I'm totally pro school uniform system, so that kids can concentrate on learning instead of comparing the material expect with their peers.

Having said that, I don't think the French is going to implement the uniform system. Well, they won't want to follow the British system anyway, even though it might be a good system.