vendredi 18 décembre 2009

Some cultural differences between France and anglo countries

I was having this rather interesting conversation with a French friend the other day that started with driving speed limits, and ended up being about teenage binge drinking and the morning after pill.

A few months ago, a friend told me about this book Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life. I would've bought it or read it if it was about cities around the world and not just the US but I've read the blurb through Amazon, and seen it in a book shop. You can also check out the interesting "Who's your city?" website here.

The premise, according to Richard Florida, is that where you live should be one of the most important decisions of your life. Most people think that whom you marry or what kind of job you get is important, but Richard says that where you live actually affects what kind of person you will meet (and later marry) or what kind of job you will get/do...

But it's not only where you live, and your neighbours, but the kinds of people you hang around with too. I've read way too many books and articles about this psychological stuff and think it's very very true. Basically your friends are a true reflection of yourself. For example, if you live in an area where there are a lot of overweight people, or most of your friends are, you are more likely to become overweight than someone else who lives in a place with few overweight people. From my personal observations, the further into the city you go, the fewer overweight people there are because, obviously, they walk and use public transport more and they also would have (generally speaking) a higher education and higher income...

I know I am totally getting off the track here... but to get back to the topic, so I asked my friend what the speed limit was in France and he said 130 km/hr and then commented that there was no limit on some German roads (as everybody knows) yet they have fewer accidents... so we got talking about how putting restrictions and limitations on people's lives can actually make things worse... we were both in agreement about that...

When I started researching about what it's like to live in France, I discovered that it's got one of the highest life expectancy rates, and is ranked number 1 in the world for healthcare. Another thing I found interesting was that both Japanese and French food is healthy and delicious, and both have high life expectancy rates, and there were two books written called French Women Don't Get Fat and Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat and the best (IMHO) skincare and cosmetics brands are also French and Japanese. Suffice to say, they know how to look after themselves and the more I read about France, the happier I was with my decision to go there and try to make a go of things.

So, it seems that anglo countries are fact 'stricter' with teenagers, and as a consequence they go out of control more. The rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion are much higher in anglo countries than they are in European ones, Britain has been named sickest country in Europe with highest obesity rates and teen pregnancy rates, and the US has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the world.

The topic of the morning after pill came up totally by accident, and as a joke. I was shocked it was brought up as it wasn't related to anything we were talking about previously... but it got me curious, and I started asking questions and found out that you can buy it in France just over the counter (same as in Australia). In Australia and most other countries it's quite expensive and according to this article it is relatively cheap in France. So of course this brings up all these moral and ethical dilemmas.. if the contraceptive pill (which I haven't really talked about) and morning after pill (not to be confused with the abortion pill RU-486) are so readily available, does it mean that teens will start having sex younger, and more often? Does raising the legal drinking age make things better? From everything that I have read, I am inclined to believe the answer is 'No'.

According to this graph the age of first time sex in France is 18.5 and later than all the anglo countries, and most other European countries.

This is not really supposed to be an "us vs them" article or "anglos vs europeans" or anything like that... but having been brought up in an anglo country, yet not being of anglo origins, I have noticed things like this my whole life. And to be honest, these 'out of control' teens really disgust me... (especially this obsession with drinking and binge drinking antics - and it's not only teens who behave like this either) and if it's not the parents doing and the culture, what is it then?

I guess, the way French parents bring up their kids is far similar to my own culture than the anglo one, so I can relate to it more and the older I get, the more I prefer it. And despite the fact that I'm not a Christian and my family isn't that religious (but my parents were still strict), I turned out to be a 'good girl' without any problems and doing anything underage or illegal. I guess as a parent there is only so much you can do but I still think that being too strict on your kids can often have the opposite effort.. food for thought...

Interesting (related) articles:

From The Times
August 26, 2008
French curb on alcohol sales as teenagers discover le binge drinking

British teenagers worst behaved in Europe

I've studied 2 years of French

Really? Not really. I've studied French for 5.5 months (and been pretty lazy this past month) but I am at the level of someone who has studied it for 2 years. How do I know this? Because when I did my evaluation at the Alliance Française I was told that I could skip all the beginner classes (of which there are 8, 2 years' worth) and also last night was my last French class and if I had started with the same teacher/course from the beginning, it would have also taken me 2 years to get to this level.

Je suis heureuse et fière de moi-même! :D


It's snowing in France!

Il neige en France !

I was speaking to my friend (who lives in Northern France) a few days ago and he mentioned it might snow and he didn't want it to happen because it meant a 40 minute drive to work would turn into a 2 hour one. So I can understand how it would inconvenience people greatly. But as a person coming from Australia (where believe it not, it does and can snow in many places/cities, but usually only in the Snowy Mountains area, and for 3 months during winter)... snow is just so... how should I say it... romantic?

Il y a quelques jours, je parlais avec mon ami français (qui habite dans le nord de la France) et il m'a dit que peut-être il neigerait, et il ne voulait pas que ça arrive car ça voudrait dire que le voyage à son bureau deviendra plus long.
Donc, je comprends que ça ne sera pas bien du tout. Mais, comme une Australienne (ou, vous y croyez ou pas, il neige dans quelques endroits/villes, mais d'habitude seulement dans les "Snowy Mountains" et pendant seulement trois mois en hiver)... La neige est juste si... comment dit-on... romantique?

From AFP

Early snow as cold snap hits northwestern Europe (AFP)

PARIS — Early winter snows forced French authorities to close the Eiffel Tower on Thursday and disrupted transport as northwest Europe shuddered under a pre-Christmas cold snap.
The French capital and much of the north of the country awoke to find a seven-centimetre (three inch) blanket of snow, which delayed flights from Charles de Gaulle airport by up to two hours.
The iconic Eiffel Tower was closed to visitors, and train and bus services were delayed in many areas, as daytime temperatures dropped below zero for the first time in the year and black ice coated northern roads.
Snow also fell in Britain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and weather experts forecast worse to come, with disruption especially in Scotland and northern England.

(Image by Dmitri Kessel for Life magazine)

jeudi 17 décembre 2009

Transparent languages French proficiency test re-visited

5 October test first time - 65%

My score:
Your score = 65%
You are at the Beginner level.
You scored 98 points out of 150.

Part I: French Grammar
You scored 26 points out of 45.
You scored 58% on this section.

Part II: French Grammar
You scored 29 points out of 45.
You scored 64% on this section.

Part III: French Vocabulary
You scored 23 points out of 30.
You scored 77% on this section.

Part IV: French Reading Comprehension
You scored 20 points out of 30.
You scored 67% on this section.


17 December - test second time - 85%
You are at the Advanced Beginner level.
You scored 128 points out of 150.

Part I: French Grammar
You scored 35 points out of 45.
You scored 78% on this section.

Part II: French Grammar
You scored 41 points out of 45.
You scored 91% on this section.

Part III: French Vocabulary
You scored 27 points out of 30.
You scored 90% on this section.

Part IV: French Reading Comprehension
You scored 25 points out of 30.
You scored 83% on this section.


Woohoo! I am improving! (and no, I don't memorize the questions/answers) ;)

Test my french

Another proficiency test. Only a few questions over 7 pages.

mardi 15 décembre 2009

Cute French English girl singing in Chinese

Check out this post here on Petite Anglaise which I wrote about before, here.

I can understand about 3/4 of what 'Tadpole' is singing and I think it's amazing she effortless switches between 3 languages.

This is a subject that interest greatly, that of second language acquisition and how children learn to pick up languages.

I'm still slowly making my way through Catherine's Petite Anglaise blog and I have to admit I love listening to the sound clips of her adorable and smart daughter!

lundi 14 décembre 2009

Afghan refugees in Paris

Not much French studying being done lately because I have been so tired... tired from what you say? Well in Australia it's summer at the moment and it's also nearly Christmas which means parties, parties, parties... and I love it but I am just SO tired. So when I get home at 1am I don't exactly feel like studying any French!


I subscribe to a few hundreds blogs (!!) about life in France (mostly Paris) and one of them is Emilie Johnson. The story of how she met her man is really interesting (if you didn't know by now, I'm a sucker for these real-life romantic stories) and she seems to have such an interesting life, and her blog shows her love of life and of her family.

But now she has a post that isn't about herself but about refugees. Admittedly I am sometimes ignorant about all the going-ons* in the world (from the banal to the serious) but this post really caught my eye and it is fascinating to say the least. I had goosebumps from reading it. You should read it and I really hope that she inspires more people to think about those less fortunate than us and do something about it.

* Is the word going-ons or goings-on?

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