samedi 29 mai 2010

Where to learn French slang and colloquialisms

L'argot et le langage familier

Here are some ways to learn French colloquialisms. Some obvious, some not so obvious.

1. Speak to a native French speaker as often as you can (ie listen to them carefully, really pay attention to seemingly simple but unfamiliar words and ask them to explain them to you)
2. Failing that, speak to a native French speaker online via Skype
3. Failing that (no microphone, crap computer, slow connection for example), "speak" to them by chatting (typing) online
4. Watch a whole heap of French movies, or even English movies with French subtitles
5. Find clips on YouTube (if you click my tags/etiquettes 'youtube' you will find some, I've done the work for you) and watch them
6. Read the comments on YouTube (also on blogs and forums)
7. Have a native French speaker write emails to you in French. You'll see learn a whole heap of new expressions that you never learnt from a textbook or in class!
8. Be-friend a native French speaker on Facebook (even better if you know them from real life ;) ) and read what is written on their wall. I've learnt a whole heap of various argot, and a lot of contractions.
9. Have native French people send you a texto (text message/SMS).

Real life examples from me:

Probably one of the first slang words I learnt was by chatting on Skype: boulot (travail/métier/etc : job/work/profession). On that same theme, I later learn bosser (travailler : work) reading something online.
I also learnt c'est chiant/merdique (that's annoying/shitty), ça craint (that sux (literally: that scares (me)) from this friend.

One of my French friends has texted me "Coucou" (Hi there) and "Tiens-moi au courant" (Keep me up to date). The latter seems to be very very common phrase. That, or "Je te tiens au courant" (I will keep you up to date). I then later texted another French friend "Dis-moi au courant" (forgetting what the phrase should have been) and he laughed.

I've seen appart (apartment) mentioned so many times. I 'introduced' my appartment as "Voilà ! Mon appart" and my French friend said I sounded like a real Française hehe

From movies: I've learnt that "Ne t'inquiète pas" > "T'inquiète pas" > "T'inquiète" (Don't worry)

From a friend, no two friends now: des fois (sometimes). I had never learnt or seen this before prior to hearing it and asking about it. I had only ever seen/used parfois and quelquefois before talking to these new friends.

I could go on and on, this is not meant to be a vocabulary lesson ;) but the funniest thing is, most people don't remember things they've said to me (but I do) and they definitely don't realise I've retained what they told me several weeks ago so when I come out with these phrases they seem really surprised and impressed.

Also, when I learn something from friend 1 and use it when talking to friend 2 they seem to think I just picked it up from thin air and they seem really really impressed (I don't think they realise I have several French friends - oooh how sneaky of me!). I don't know what it is about that! I obviously can't impress anyone with my so-so pronunciation or accent, but every French person just seems super impressed when I use colloquialisms, slang, abbreviations, etc! They actually think it's funny too and I was always being asked/told by one of my French friends, "Where did you learnt that?", "How come you know that word?", "Oh you know that one?" etc.

Obviously I don't think you can impress people with this once you are living in France (or maybe you can? I don't know yet) I guess it's impressive because 1) I'm mostly a self-taught learner and 2) everybody knows you never learn these words or phrases in a language school!

You can, however, learn it from a book but I think this method is less effective than the ones I mentioned above.

Picture from Argot Français

J'ai un nouveau ami français

Just had 4 hours of conversation practice with a new French friend - yay! OK it was probably 2 hours given at least half the time we were speaking English...

I was browsing Gumtree one day for things to buy or sell. I've been using it more than eBay to sell things because it's just so much easier, and it's free! It's like the Craigslist or Kijiji of Australia.

Anyway, every now and then for fun I typed in "French" to see what comes up. There are a lot of people offering French lessons, or French backpackers wanting free rides across Australia, or perhaps someone selling French textbooks. I even found a French photographer who is offering to take photos in his studio for a bargain price. But anyway, I managed to find a language partner! When I wasn't even looking for one.

If this isn't the Law of Attraction thing then I don't know what is. Ever since my French friend went back to France I've been a little sad but also I've now got noone to practise with on a regular basis. So I managed to find this guy's ad online and we start emailing back and forth and I had to keep postponing our meetings because I've been since for what seems like forever now...

So 1) I found him at the exact right time I needed a new language exchange partner
2) The weirdest thing is that he has almost the exact same name as my other French friend! That is the freakiest thing ever. They have the same first name and their last name is almost identical too.

How freaky is that?

Anyway, we had a great time just talking about random stuff. It seemed that my French was better than his English which was a weird feeling because my other friend had perfect English and I never taught him anything much, he was doing all the 'teaching' although I loathe to call it that because it was more like two friends talking and having fun.

But all in all I think it went well. I enjoy sharing my knowledge on random stuff although there are some things I just don't know.

He asked me to explain Australia's political system to him (in French) and this was very hard because I have no interest in politics. When I visited the parliament house in Canberra in April they were giving free talks/guides and it was somewhat interesting but I can hardly remember any of it.

Another question he asked me which had me totally stumped and even after Googling I still can't find the answer. Perhaps someone can enlighten me? He asked me if one can do the working holiday visa (WHV) in more than one country. I couldn't find any information about this. Am I not looking hard enough? Could a French person do, say, 1 year in Australia, 1 year in the UK, 1 year in Canada, 1 year in Japan, etc? (assuming they still fit the age requirements).

I know you can do 2 stints in Australia back to back (so 2 years in total) if you work at least 3 months WOOFing (fruit picking).

Hopefully this can be a regular thing for us (to learn our 2 languages) as I need to keep practising my French conversation.

Now I'm going to translate all of that into French.

Je viens de finir 4 heures d'entrainement du français avec un nouveau ami français - youpi ! Alors, c'était probablement seulement 2 heures car on a parlé l'anglais pendant la moitié du temps.

Un jour, je parcourais Gumtree pour les trucs à vendre ou à acheter. Je l'utilisais plus souvent que eBay de vendre les trucs car c'est plus facile et c'est gratuit ! Le Gumtree est comme le Craiglist ou le Kijiji d'Australie.

De temps en temps je tape "French" sur mon clavier de voir ce qui arriverait. Il y a pas mal de gens qui offrent les leçons français, ou les backpackers français qui cherchent quelqu'un qui peut les emmène quelque part en voiture, ou bien, quelqu'un qui vend leurs livres français. J'ai même trouvé un photographe français qui peut prendre des photos de toi dans son studio pour un prix assez bas. Bref, j'arrive à trouvé un partenaire pour un échange de langues. (même si je ne le cherchais pas).

Si ça, ce n'est pas le loi d'Attraction en action, alors je ne sais pas ce que c'est. Depuis que mon ami français est retourné en France je me sentais un peu triste et aussi, je n'ai personne avec qui je peux entrainer mon français. Donc, j'arrive à trouver le pub de ce gars en ligne et on a commencé à ecrire des emails courts assez souvent mais j'ai dû retarder nos rendez-vous plusieurs fois car j'étais malade.

Bref, 1) Je l'ai trouvé au moment parfait où j'avais besoin d'un nouveau tuteur de français
2) la chose la plus bizarre est qu'il a le même prénom que mon autre ami français et même son nom est aussi presque pareil !

C'est vraiment bizarre, non ?

On a des bons moments parlant juste des choses divers. Il me semble que mon français était un peu mieux que son anglais (il m'a dit ça !) et le sentiment était étrange pour moi car mon autre ami parle l'anglais courrament et je ne lui ai jamais enseigné l'anglais. Il a fait tout l'enseignment, pourtant, j'ai craindre de l'appelle "enseignement" car on parlait comme amis.

Je pense que la séance d'aujourd'hui a été bien. J'aime partager mes connaissances sur les "choses", même s'il y a des choses que je ne connais pas très bien.

Il m'a demandé de lui expliquer le système politique en Australie (en français) et c'était très difficile pour moi car je n'ai pas beaucoup d'intérêt sur politiques ! Quand j'ai visité le parlement d'Australie à Canberra en avril, le guide nous ont donné un exposé sur les deux "maisons", Le sénat et le "House of Representatives" et c'était assez intéressant mais je ne peux pas rappeller beaucoup.

Il m'a posé une autre question qui m'a brouillé. Même après je l'ai cherché sur Google, je n'arrive pas à trouver la réponse. Est-ce qu'il y a quelqu'un qui peut m'aider ? Il m'a demandé si on peut faire le WHV dans plus que un pays. Je ne pouvais pas trouver ces informations sur l'internet. Par exemple, est-ce que un Français pourrait faire le WHV en Australie pendant 1 an, et puis 1 an en Grande-Bretagne, et puis 1 an au Canada, et puis un autre an au Japan, etc ? (supposant qu'on correspond aux critères).

Je sais qu'on peux faire le WHV 2 fois de suite en Australia  (2 ans au total) si on travail pendant au moins 3 mois dans une ferme.

J'espère que ça sera une chose habituelle pour nous d'apprendre nos langues car j'ai toujours besoin d'amélior mon français !

jeudi 27 mai 2010

Beautiful Frenchy pictures 1

Some random pretty pics I came across lately. All with a different sentiment.

Beautiful pics by Barbara Berrada
I fell in love with these pics as soon as I saw them. The gorgeous kids, the incredible clothes, the vintage photo backdrop and the fake snow effect, it's all just too gorgeous!

Lolita Lempicka Parfums
Wow. Who wouldn't want a bedroom like that? Who wouldn't want to look like that model? ;) The fabrics, the florals and patterns. All so pretty and feminine.

Dior's "Blue Shanghai" Photo by Steven Klein. It's beautiful, powerful and evocative all at the same time. I guess every major company wants to corner the Chinese market and all eyes are on Shanghai at the moment due to the World Expo 2010.

If you're interested there's also the Dior "Blue Shanghai" video directed by David Lynch and starring Marion Cotillard and Gong Tao, which came out last week. Around 15 minutes long.

Personally, I don't really like it. The fast moving camera action makes me nauseous, Marion's hybrid American/French accent is weird and I don't find her or Gong's acting that great. I wanted to like it but it was nothing special. I'm not really a huge fan of David's films either. They are a bit to dark, moody and arty for me.

Related post.

Learning Foreign Languages boosts brain power

OK so this is nothing new and I am not posting anything that people don't know already. There are thousands of articles online such as this one that say that when one learns a new languages the brain becomes permanently altered in the same way that exercise alters your muscles, and the fitter you become.

But what's interesting about that article is that they say it matters WHEN you started to learn the second language, the younger the better.

...Researchers from University College London studied the brains of 105 people - 80 of whom were bilingual.

They found learning other languages altered grey matter - the area of the brain which processes information - in the same way exercise builds muscles.

People who learned a second language at a younger age were also more likely to have more advanced grey matter than those who learned later, the team said.

Scientists already know the brain has the ability to change its structure as a result of stimulation - an effect known as plasticity - but this research demonstrates how learning languages develops it.

The team took scans of 25 Britons who did not speak a second language, 25 people who had learned another European language before the age of five and 33 bilinguals who had learned a second language between 10 and 15 years old.

The scans revealed the density of the grey matter in the left inferior parietal cortex of the brain was greater in bilinguals than in those without a second language.

The effect was particularly noticeable in the "early" bilinguals, the findings published in the journal Nature revealed.

The findings were also replicated in a study of 22 native Italian speakers who had learned English as a second language between the ages of two and 34.

Lead researcher Andrea Mechelli, of the Institute of Neurology at UCL, said the findings explained why younger people found it easier to learn second languages.

I'm not sure that I agree that it's easier for young people to learn a language. From everything that I've read the only main advantage of learning a language young is being about to replicate the native accent, something that's almost impossible to do after the age of about 10 or 12.

However, I can only speak for myself when I say that being bilingual since I was a child has helped immensely with my spelling and pronunciation/reading. I remember being in 2nd grade (aged 7) and the teacher asked us how to spell the plural of 'city'. Of course everyone said to add an 's' but for some reason I knew you had to change the ending by eliminating the 'y' and adding 'ies'. I have no idea how I knew this (possibly from seeing it/reading it somewhere and remembering it) but I remember I was the only one in the class who knew. I also remember clearly when I was in 3rd grade (aged 8) our teacher asked us how to read/pronounce 'mosque' and people were guessing 'moss-Q' or 'moe's Q' etc. I don't even know how I knew either but I knew it was pronounced 'mosk', and once again I was the only one in the class who knew this. I went to a very white school and noone else was bilingual.

I'm not saying this to say oh how great and wonderful and smart and I am. I'm saying it because I actually am inclined to agree that being bilingual from a young age somehow changes your brain structure so that you are able to intake new information more rapidly and process it, and also figure out connections between words of a language.

For every language I've learnt, I've very quickly figured out how words are connected. Words that sound very similar usually have a similar meaning and this is true for almost every language. I am also very good at guessing the meaning of words, even in languages that do not use a Roman script. I think my listening skills are quite good because I am able to follow a conversation and guess words that I don't know simply based on the context and based on words that I DO already know.

I also think that being bilingual since I was young has helped me learn foreign languages much more easily and quickly than the average monolingual person.

Enough talking about myself. Here is a fun article I found.

Here's their list of some more fun things you can do to boost your brain power:

1• Drink cocoa
2• Gossip with colleagues
3• Have a baby
4• Listening to foreign language CDs
5• Go running
6• Cook with rosemary
7• Eat scrambled eggs for breakfast
8• Have a nap
9• Drink two cups of coffee
10• Don't work too hard
11• Forget the fish oils
12• Snack on raisins
13• Write it down
14• Cut your food intake by a third
15• Play board games

My comments:

1. I love hot chocolate and I love any kind of chocolate. Yay!
2. I gossip with anyone anywhere if I have the chance and where appropriate.
3. Maybe later but not right now, thanks.
4. Even better, I listen to RFI's Le Journal en Français Facile!
5. I was doing this 3 times a week until I got sick.
6. I have no idea what rosemary looks like, I guess I'll have to check it out.
7. The only thing I have for breakfast is cereal or muesli or bread but perhaps I can have scrambled eggs on the weekend when I have more time.
8. Well I wish I could have one every day... haha, wishful thinking!
9. I hate coffee! Don't get me started.
10. I don't think I do ;)
11. Meh. I still take mine every day. But even better than fish oil, I take salmon oil.
12. Every now and then I do. Dried cranberries are also great.
13. What am I doing now? ;) I write everything down! I have an old fashioned diary that involves paper and pen, not an iphone or a blackberry and I even use email to write reminders to myself.
14. I know for a fact that I already eat far less than the average person and if I were to cut my intake I would be starving.
15. I love board games! But I have no one to play with. Boohoo. There's nothing more fun then getting a group of around 4-6 friends for a big long board game session.

Well now that you know this, what are you waiting for??? :)

mercredi 26 mai 2010

Walkable cities

Walkable Cities

Stumbled across this article by accident, where someone compares American and European cities and lifestyles. I think it's a great article (accompanied by photos) and it's interesting to see the gasoline/land usage graph as well.

Here is a website I found some time ago. I thought it was only for US cities but it works for almost any city in the world.


I plugged in some suburb/city names:

Where I grew up, Sydney, Australia - 55%
My suburb now, Sydney, Australia - 86%
Sister's suburb, Sydney, Australia - 92%
(Inner city) Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia - 98%
Champs Elysées, Paris, France - 8o%
Republique, Paris, France - 82%
Manhattan, New York, USA - 86%
Brooklyn, New York, USA - 89%
Trafalgar Square, London, UK - 98%

Abbey Road, London, UK - 85%

I know some are street names while others are suburb/neighbourhood names but I just wanted a rough idea of what would come up. Also, in Australia, everything is called a suburb but I know that in the US inner-city suburbs are called neighborhoods. And in Paris they are of course arrondissements.

OK so it's not 100% accurate but for a computer-generated Google maps thing it's pretty clever :)

I am all for walkable cities. Australia has obviously followed the United States model in creating mostly unwalkable cities. Obviously there are a lot of reasons for this. Namely our countries' larger surface areas, the fact that our countries are younger, historical reasons and probably many other reasons I'll never understand.

Up until World War II (1940s) the inner cities in Australia were very walkable. I've seen those old black and white photos and the city looked beautiful. If we had bothered to keep it like that, I would easily say that Sydney would look more a European city than some modern city thing. Of course the population explosion got in the way of that ;)

In the article I mentioned above, it talks about Bordeaux and their tram system:

As mentioned above, Europeans do most of their non food shopping in the town centre. In the 1930's, it was common for towns to have tramways (streetcars) and these would generally run from the outlying residential areas to the town centre, running through the main street. However with the advent of the car in the fifties, these were taken out of service, and replaced with buses as it was thought that the trams consumed too much space, and to make room for cars. The growth in car ownership soon resulted in these town centre street being clogged with traffic, and first to go was onstreet parking, and by the seventies, municipalities started to close the main streets totally to traffic, and paving them to become pedestrianised areas.

Today the overwhelming majority of town main streets are closed to traffic, but in a quirk of history, some towns are reintroducing tramways that run through these pedestrianised streets. As an example, Bordeaux inaugurated its new tramway system in 2003, and is constantly extending it.

The same thing happened in Sydney. According to Wikipedia, Sydney used to have one of the largest tram networks in the world but then it was all pulled down. Although Melbourne is well-known for their trams Sydney had none from WWII up until 2000, when during Olympic fever, it was built up again. However, it doesn't have many stops and it is privatised and very expensive so I don't think that many people use it. It's also called a light rail and does not have that old tram charm.

IMHO living in the 'burbs in a huge house on a huge piece of land is only good if you have young kids and need the space. Or you absolutely need to have your peace and quiet. Otherwise, to me, it's a waste. You have to pay more for the land, pay more for the house, pay more to clean/heat/cool the house. And use more energy. Of course you then have to buy more things to fill up that house. And then you have to pay more for petrol (gas) to get yourself around from place to place as there is nothing within walking distance!

Living in a large sprawling city like Sydney though, even if you lived in a walkable area you still need your car if you don't want to take half a day to get from one end to the other end. In that sense, I also prefer compact cities. I've been told by almost everyone I know who's been there that they loved San Francisco but hated Los Angeles and I think the main reason for that is because Los Angeles is so sprawled out.

A few years ago I remember when London introduced a tax for people driving into the city centre (I remember it well because during a holiday, I was actually driving into the city centre myself during peak hour and having a heart attack about getting a massive big fine because I didn't know where or how to pay this tax). Now, the councillors here want to introduce the same thing for Sydney. It's the sort of topic that gets brought up and forgotten about and then brought up again a year or two later. If they introduced it I'd be all for it. I mean, if 80% (or whatever the figure is) of people who work in the inner city use public transport to get themselves there I don't see why the other 20% can't. These people are mostly fat middle-aged men. I know this because I used to cross Sydney Harbour Bridge on a bus every day and look down and I noticed that in every car there was only one person, and that person was likely to be a big, fat, balding middle-aged man with his beer belly poking into the steering wheel who wouldn't give two hoots about anyone else or environmental issues because him getting to work in his air-conditioned comfortable car was the most important thing!). Sorry for the visuals but there was no other way to explain it ;) 

Which brings me to my next point.  I think this lack of walkable suburbs/cities has something to do with the obesity epidemic! Not that I'm saying everyone living in a big house in the 'burbs is obese but you can't deny the facts that in Europe and Asia where almost every city is walkable (and people are a lot more active in general and eat smaller portions and healthier food), they have a much lower rate of obesity than in the USA or Australia (which I believe have 2 of the highest rates in the world).

I could go on and on about things like car pooling, and creating more bicycle lanes/tracks and.. well, I know that Sydney city council is trying very hard. They are trying to 'greenify' the city and create more bike tracks and a more pleasant place for pedestrians and I imagine that in the future that many roads will be closed off (like in Europe) to cars altogether. During the massive renovation just before the Olympics in 2000 I remember that they actually narrowed the main street (George St) and created wider footpaths. They are also thinking about making the CBD (central business district) bus only.

Something else I noticed whilst living overseas is that because most people living in the 'burbs have a big backyard, the kids don't really need to use the community playground. Here in Sydney we have so many lovely parks or children's playgrounds and so many times I've walked or driven past and noticed they are completely empty. In that regard I noticed that we have lost that sense of community as well. In countries or cities where people don't have the luxury of a massive house and backyard they have to use communal/public amenities like parks and they are always full of people enjoying mother nature. Not only that, people also interact with one another which I think is something that's definitely missing from our modern lives.

Walkable cities, public transport and being 'green' are all topics that I'm passionate about and this post wasn't supposed to be an essay but I got carried away so I'll stop here.

Disclaimer: I understand I may offend some readers but meh, it's my blog, and my opinion and you can cry if you want to ;)

Speaking of public transport, check out this video of the Paris metro in the 50s (in French).

mardi 25 mai 2010

Finding France in Australia - book

Found out about this book Finding France in Australia on the Escape to Paris blog.
I wish there was a preview or something. I can't tell if it's any good or not but anyway I hope they appreciate me giving them free advertising! ;)

Skytrax 2010 airline awards

Skytrax 2010 airline awards

The top 10 ranking in the awards were:

1. Asiana Airlines

2. Singapore Airlines

3. Qatar Airways

4. Cathay Pacific

5. Air New Zealand

6. Etihad Airways

7. Qantas Airways

8. Emirates

9. Thai Airways

10. Malaysia Airlines


The interesting thing about this is. Why are there no European or North American airlines in the top 10?


Other awards announced included:

Best Low-Cost Airline Worldwide

Most Improved Airline
Garuda Indonesia

Best Cabin Staff
Singapore Airlines

Best Inflight Entertainment

Best Airport Services
Thai Airways

Best Economy Class
Malaysia Airlines

Best Premium Economy Class

Best Business Class
Qatar Airways

Best First Class
Etihad Airways

Best Airline: Transatlantic
Virgin Atlantic

Best Airline: Transpacific
Cathay Pacific

Best Airline: Australia/Pacific
Air New Zealand

Best Airline: Europe

Best Airline: India/Central Asia
Kingfisher Airlines

Best Airline: Middle East
Qatar Airways

Best Airline: North America
Air Canada

Best Airline: South East Asia
Singapore Airlines

Best Airline Lounge - Business Class
Virgin Atlantic

Best Airline Lounge - First Class
Thai Airways

Best Airline Seat - Business Class
Singapore Airlines

Best Airline Seat - Economy Class
Kingfisher Airlines

Best Airline Seat - First Class
Etihad Airways

Best Airline Seat - Premium Economy Class
Qantas Airways

Best Low-Cost Airline Australia/Pacific
Virgin Blue

Best Onboard Catering - Business Class
Qatar Airways

Best Onboard Catering - Economy Class
Turkish Airlines

Best Onboard Catering - First Class
Etihad Airways


Top 10 international airports
2010 ranking
2009 ranking

Singapore Changi Airport

Incheon International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport

Munich Airport

Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Zurich Airport

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport

Auckland Int'l Airport

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport




Why is it that Asian airlines and airports always do really well in these Skytrax ratings?

I know that Qantas has a good reputation particularly in the area of safety (I think that the movie Rainman had something to do with it!) but I have not been that impressed with them. None of the others stand out for me (not that I've flown with them all the list but I have flown with quite a few different ones...) but I've still yet to try Singapore airlines which most Australians love. I think I'll use them on my next overseas trip.

My favourite (of those that I've flown) has definitely been Emirates, and my favourite airport is Hong Kong (which I have been to many times and absolutely love) and I was also impressed by Singapore's, Dubai's and Kuala Lumpur's. Or maybe I like an airport with lots of shops and those airports have great shops ;)

lundi 24 mai 2010

French Open 2010 Roland Garros Paris

French Open 2010

Roland Garros official site

It doesn't seem like that long ago since the last tennis tournament was held but here we are again, watching the annual French Open at the Roland Garros tennis stadium in Paris. It seems like some of the female players think it's a fashion parade or -ahem- something else... Since I know nothing about tennis I won't make any other comments but if you like tennis, enjoy watching it!

In other news, the famed tennis site may move from Paris in 2016 due to lack of space.

What is that? Father Son Sparrow Greek film 2007

What is that? (Τι είναι αυτό;) 2007 from MovieTeller on Vimeo.

What is that? (Τι είναι αυτό;) 2007

Father: Nikos Zoiopoulos
Son: Panagiotis Bougiouris

Directed by: Constantin Pilavios
Written by: Nikos & Constantin Pilavios
Director of photgraphy: Zoe Manta
Music by: Christos Triantafillou
Sound by: Teo Babouris
Mixed by: Kostas Varibobiotis
Produced by: MovieTeller films

For some reason, I suddenly thought of this movie. I thought I had bookmarked it somewhere but I couldn't find it. Luckily a quick keyword search on YouTube led me to it but it was just a copy of the original (which I then found on Vimeo). I cannot remember how or where or why I found this clip (sometime late last year I think) but it's one of the most touching short films I've ever watched and leaves me bawling my eyes out every time. I can relate to the son a lot, in fact I know I've acted like that with my parents and watching this made me feel very sad and ashamed.

It's such a simple storyline but so touching and deep and an expertly made film.  Bravo Constantin!

dimanche 23 mai 2010

Internships in France for Australian university students

I stumbled upon this Word doc which came from this page of the French Embassy in Australia (L'Ambassade de France en Australie).

In it, are some appalling statistics:

The number of Australians studying overseas is low : only 1% of Australian students

- 370 Australian students in France (compared to 3000 French students in Australia)

- Internships with companies are not commonly part of Australian university life. But, French companies in Australia are used to welcoming French interns

- Dynamism of French Industry represented by no fewer than 250 French companies established and operating in Australia

- Limited French language skills (only 2.5% of the High School student population learn French)

- Satisfying numbers of students enrolled in the first year level in French in University Departments but attendance quickly petering out in subsequent years.

The lucky chosen students get to spend

- 12 months (6 months in Australia, followed by 6 months in France)
- or possibly 6 months (3 months in Australia, followed by 3 months in France)

and paid up to $30,000 for their internship work.

Ten global French companies are involved:

- EADS (Airbus/Australian Aerospace),
- Thales,
- Turbomeca,
- Suez Degremont,
- BNP Paribas Australia,
- Alstom,
- Areva T&D,
- Veolia Transport,
- Total, and
- Altios International

How good is that!!

What can I say?

When I was in high school it was NOT compulsory to study a foreign language. When I was in early high school the only languages offered were French and German, then later Japanese and Indonesian. (I know that now Chinese Mandarin and Arabic are the 'hottest' languages to learn). I ended up deciding to do Japanese for my final high school exam, which is definitely something I've not regretted. Although I can't speak much now I can still read it and understand some of it when others are talking... but I'm getting off the topic.

Until a few years ago I'd never even heard of doing an internship (un stage) overseas whilst at university. I don't know about these days but when I was in university the internships weren't even that well organised. You had to find your own company and you only went for a few weeks, not a few months. You had to do everything on your own and there wasn't much support from the university nor the company and very very few people got hired after their time was up. There was no 'credit' system like in the US either. It might have just been my course and/or my university, but I know that our 'system' is far inferior to that of North America, Asia and Europe.

Going to a university that's away from one's own city is basically unheard of, so doing an internship overseas is even more unheard of although the overseas exchange program has always been in place. My sister did an exchange, and I know friends who did it, and people who are doing an exchange right now.  I had the opportunity to do one too (in England or Germany) but my marks weren't good enough :( nor did I have adequate funds to support myself over there. Some students from my German partner university came over and we had a great time getting to know them, so in a way I guess it was fun to live the experience through their eyes.

On that note, when I was in high school, we also had an exchange student come over from Europe, from Norway. Suffice to say, I'm kind of jealous of these European kids that have all these opportunities... Being at the bottom of the world in the middle of nowhere makes it hard to 'connect' with the rest of the world.

I think this is an amazing program and I'm sure those who are smart enough and motivated enough to get into such a program will do very well in their future careers. This program only started this year in January 2010 so let's hope it'll get bigger and better in upcoming years and strengthen those Franco-Australian relations! :) and that more Australian students realise the benefits of 1) studying a foreign language both in high school and university and 2) studying and/or working overseas.

As every French person seems to know, if Australia was discovered by La Perouse only 8 days earlier, before The First Fleet had arrived, we would probably be a French-speaking country now, or we would be like Canada and speak both French and English!

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