Thursday, November 24, 2011

Aelig 23th month

One more month before she turns two.

One of her favorite activities: reading. These days, she would come sit beside, holding one book, then pass another one to me and order:"maman, kan shu" (mom, read). I said it is an order because if I don't read with her, she cries.

She even ordered her grandparents to read with her. She asked them to sit on the floor, as she has gotten used to do it at home. Well, according to hubby, his family consider that the floor is dirty so they only sit on sofa or chair. True, my FIL announced that he has pain on his back as he was not used to sit in that position.

Our CE (Committee in the company who organizes trips, gives discount tickets and other benefits to employees) proposed half price entrance ticket to the Aquarium in Saint Malo. Since she recognizes fishes and loves eating them, we brought her there. She was fascinated at so many fishes at the beginning, but was bored after a while.

She uses this small chair to look over the counter top, mainly to do mischief like stealing a biscuit, grabbing food on the table, transferring silver wares from the drawer to everywhere else in the apartment.

She is a party girl now. Since a while ago she refused to go to bed even after 10pm. This week she finally found her way to get out of the bed. Two nights consecutively she climbed out of her crib (from her crib she is accessible to the door handle and the light switch) and rejoined us in the living room. I let her played for 10 minutes more then put her to bed. We think she is ready for a real bed. Time for bed shopping.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Circulaire Guéant: So foreign fresh grad could no longer get a work visa in France?

A while back I was invited to a small celebration in an office because someone was going on vacation. It is a tradition here, that someone would bring in chocolate breads, croissants and some juices and invite coworkers to have a small breakfast gathering. Most of the time it was for birthday, a new born in the family, a retirement...This was the first time I got invited because something was going for vacation.

Anyway, I met a fresh grad who just got hired. He told me about the new laws that just got implemented in France, where foreign fresh grads were being refused the working visa and police actually came to the work place to escort him out of the country. "Wow" was my response. I didn't really believe him because as far as I know, it was quite easy to get a working visa in France.

Thing changed without me realizing. Last week I got an email from a coworker, who said his goodbye as his working permit was removed from the Prefecture and he has to stop working from that day on. I didn't know it was that serious until I see the real case. Same thing happened to my teammates who had to stop working as their working visa expired and the prefecture refused to extend it.

All these are due to the new laws: Circulaire Guéant which is aimed to refuse professional working visa in France. A report says that this could affect around 60 thousands applications.

Seeing what is happening, I just want to say that sometimes we just need to have luck. I was one of the last person hired in my company in 2008. Since then most of the IT companies had hiring freeze and it only got restarted in 2010. I just talked to a coworker from Benin (a country in West Africa), she was super happy as she found this job quick easily, now I'm not sure if she is going to stay for long.

France is not the first country trying to limit professional immigrants. In 2004, when I tried to get a job in the USA, I was told that the quota for professional visa had reduced to 50k a year. Basically, all 50k were gone the day it was opened for application. I had a good lead with a Taiwanese company, but the HR checked with the lawyer and told me that there was no more quota for H1B visa. My friend who worked in my X company recommended me to the HR, was told the same thing, they didn't want to hire people who needed a H1B. I would just say that I had no luck, because despite all these talking, big companies still managed to hire foreign graduates, my friend was hired by Citibank at the same period. I think big companies have their own kind of quota.

Anyway, I just hope this is temporarily. I don't think foreigners are stealing jobs from the French. At least for the IT lines, there is huge demand and most fresh grads find their first job fairly easy. Those who are unemployed are mostly the unskilled or workers with little qualifications. It is just a waste of time and money for the companies to go through the process and hire foreigners just to later found that the country would not want to grant them visa.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Joke of the month

Aelig knows the notion of ownership now. She would say which thing belongs to who in the family. Sometimes she helps me sort through the laundry and she will say:
C'est à Papa, c'est à Maman, c'est à Aelig (it's papa's, it's mom's, it's Aelig's).

One day while sorting out clothes, she was happily announcing which cloth belongs to who until she saw a bra. She looked at it for a second, and without hesitation announced that: C'est à Mamig! (It's Mamig's). And I heard hubby burst out laughing.

Well, Mamig is hubby's grandma.

Is she judging me? That my bra is so old fashion that it must belong to a grandma?
I have no idea.

PS: Just a joke to boost up my spirit. Aelig has been sicked, ear infection, coughing, teething all come at the same time. Result: fever, vomit, bad appetite, lost weight (she is only 9.4kg at 22 months), crying, bad temper.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wedding the French way

Wow, it's 11/11/11 today and lots of people said it is an auspicious day. It is public holiday in France so everyone gets to enjoy a long weekend. We certainly had a lovely afternoon, it was sunny and we went to C town for a visit and had picnic close to a river.

I saw on news in Malaysia that lots of couples had booked this day to get married. I'm not sure if French couples also chose this day though since we are in autumn (not a hot season to get married here). Talking about wedding, I want to share two unique things found in French weddings.

French wedding is famous with its marathon style of ceremony + cocktail + dinner + party (last for about 12 hours). But the first thing I want to talk about is the notion of Broom Wagon (voiture balai). It is a car decorated with brooms which originally created to follow the bicycle race and sweeping up those who were unable to finish the race on time. A wedding broom wagon serves the same purpose: picking up cars that are lost on the way from Church / Town Hall to the reception venue.

Most of the time the wagon is prepared by close friends. This photo shows my father admiring the one prepared for our wedding.

We attended a wedding two weekends ago and this time we had the task to decorate a broom wagon. The theme is Fest-noz (Brittany dancing party) so we had the Brittany flag as background. The challenge was more on how to tie the board to the car as it was quite windy that day. We drove at 30km/h on the way to the wedding and we lost 2 balloons on the way. Photo shows the workshop in progress.

Et voilà the final result.

Another specialty in French wedding: The French onion soup (Soupe à l’Oignon). I had been to several weddings but had yet tasted this infamous soup, mostly I went to bed too early and not every wedding served this. It was rare for me to stay up until 4-5am for a wedding but this time, at around 2am, I heard that there was onion soup coming so I stayed put. Yeah, I was very curious, and I was so glad that I stayed, as it tasted heavenly. It just warmed up my stomach so much so that I had a good night sleep later. Everyone should really try it.