samedi 1 janvier 2011

Transparent French Proficiency test III

Transparent French Proficiency test

5 October 2009
Your score = 65%You are at the Beginner level.
You scored 98 points out of 150.

17 December 2009
Your score = 85%
You are at the Advanced Beginner level.
You scored 128 points out of 150.

1 January 2011
Your score = 97%
You are at the Intermediate level.
You scored 146 points out of 150.

Part I: French Grammar
You scored 45 points out of 45.

Part II: French Grammar
You scored 41 points out of 45.
You scored 91% on this section (but I only got 1 question wrong)

Part III: French Vocabulary
You scored 30 points out of 30.

Part IV: French Reading Comprehension
You scored 30 points out of 30.

New Year's Eve 2010/2011

I know I wrote my thoughts on Christmas not so long ago but strangely I didn't end up feeling sad or homesick during Christmas at all... However, last night I felt really homesick for Sydney because of our great fireworks show. Due to the timezone (GMT+10 or GMT+11 in daylight savings time) it's the first major city to experience the new year so it's always in the news.

I felt kinda sad being stuck in a small town with no festivities and I was hoping I'd get invited to something.. but nope, nothing. I was disappointed but not overly sad. I texted my French friends both in town and out of town and wished them a Happy New Year. I got quite a few in return too.

At around 9pm I was getting frustrated that I had nothing planned and nothing to do and noone to spend it with. However, I just told myself it's no big deal. Just a change in a calendar date anyway. I had a really nice NYE last year watching the fireworks from the front yard of my sister's apartment block (which has such a perfect view that there are police and security guards surrounding her street and don't allow anyone but residents and their guests to enter). And you have to get your car in by a certain time before all the streets are closed off to cars too.

There are usually around a million people who watch the fireworks (500,000 on each side of the harbour) and it's a big Sydney ritual. In the past 15 years I have only missed a few. Mostly because I was overseas. The 1999 ones were particularly memorable because of the upcoming 2000 Olympic Games and they had lit up sea creatures floating along the harbour which was delightful. Those that don't watch it for real watch the live telecast on tv or can hear it (+ commentary or soundtrack) on the radio.

I could go on and on (as I've seen so many now) but the main point is that for the first time in ages I felt really really homesick and missed my city and my family and friends, dammit!

I also remember fondly last year on New Year's day I walked around Luna Park with my sister and her boyfriend. It was so much fun and this timely blog post (with its beautiful photos) certainly brought back memories for me! I think I wrote about that "52 suburbs" blog before on here. It certainly makes me appreciate and miss Sydney more!

Since Sydney is 10 hours ahead of France I could see all the Facebook status updates and photos (and later even videos) of the fireworks and festivities.

One of my friends did invite me to spend NYE in Lyon but I was just too tired from all that travelling to do anymore.

I wanted to speak to someone I knew, anyone, through Skype but nobody was online. I got over the fact that I was going to do absolutely nothing for NYE and not even be upset by it but I did not want to spend it alone. I just had to speak to someone! Everyone I knew were either asleep or busy etc... So I decided to find a random stranger to speak to on Skype.

I went to one of the language exchange websites I've used before (italki) and sent out a handful of messages, hoping someone was online. Eventually somebody replied to my request and it turned out to be really good fun (well as much fun as one can have alone in a tiny room with nothing but a computer and an internet connection ;) )

We started 'speaking' at around 9:45pm and then lasted until almost 2am! We could've gone on longer but I really wanted to go to bed. We got along really really well and he was really funny as well. He was alone too on NYE (and didn't think it was a big deal either). We never did a video chat (as I was not in the mood to be 'seen' with my messy hair and in my daggy pjs, etc) but spent ages talking (typing) on Skype. I simultaneously had and opened so I could quickly translate any word he typed that I did not understand. It's really a great way to learn more vocabulary. I offered to talk in English too (for his benefit) but he said he was too tired at that late hour to think in English so I got to practise French heaps!

I was saying to this guy that I wouldn't even know when midnight was (because all the times I have on my computer/watch/phone are different) and that there would be no firecrackers or fireworks here but to my surprise there were some! I could not see them but I could hear them. I already knew the word for fireworks (feu d'artifice) but I also learnt a new word, firecrackers (petards).

Then, I was lying in bed almost asleep when I got a text message at around 2:30am. It was from one of the people I had Couchsurfed with about 2 months ago who wished me a Bonne Année and he said that he'd like to invite me back to his town/place! which was really nice. I didn't actually think he was over-the-top friendly towards me at the time (I mean he was nice but nothing to write home about) so this really surprised me.

I hope you had a lovely NYE wherever you are!

Here are 2 videos from last night's Sydney NYE 2010/2011 fireworks:

(Photo by Sacharules/Flickr)

vendredi 31 décembre 2010

Bonne Année et Bienvenue 2011

Happy New Year! It's officially 1st January 2011 already in my hometown and country so it's only fitting to wish everyone a wonderful new year right now.

I can honestly say, without hesitation, that 2010 was one of the best years of my life. So many wonderful things happened. I volunteered for a number of film festivals and events, I progressed further in my French and in my career, made new friends, and I found out I was accepted into a programme for me to go and live and work in France (where I am now).  

I've travelled so much since I arrived 3 months ago and seen so much of the country already (as well as Switzerland and Germany). I feel so lucky and privileged. I have both my parents and my sister (and their partners) all happy and healthy. I really have a lot to be grateful for and really nothing to complain about. However I can't help but feeling a little sad because there is something missing... there is always something missing during Christmas, NYE and Valentine's day...

Anyway I wish to end this on a happy note so here's wishing you all a brilliant réveillon (NYE) and a smashing start to the new year! Enjoy yourselves tonight!

I thought I'd add this image of French sweets (chocolates) called Papillotes. They're actually for Christmas (so I'm a bit late) but the brand name sounds like réveillon ;) They are named for the pieces of paper inside.

Bonne Année ! C'est officiellement déjà le nouvel an, le 1 janvier 2011 dans ma ville et dans mon pays donc je vous souhaite toutes et tous une bonne année maintenant.

Je peux dire, franchement et sans hésitation que 2010 c'était l'une des meilleures années de ma vie. Beaucoup de bonnes choses se sont passées. J'ai travaillé comme bénévole aux plusieurs festivals de film et aux évenements, j'ai fait des progrès avec mon français et dans ma carrière, j'ai fait de nouveaux amis, et j'ai réalisé mon rêve de vivre en France. J'ai découvert que j'était admis à un programme de vivre et travailler en France (où je me suis installée maintenant).

J'ai voyagé beaucoup depuis que je suis arrivée il y a 3 mois, et j'ai vu tant de choses partout dans le pays (et aussi en Suisse et en Allemagne). J'ai de la chance et je me sens privilégié. J'ai mes parents tous les deux, et ma soeur (et leurs partenaires) tous sains et saufs. J'ai vraiment beaucoup pour être heureuse et je ne peux pas me plaindre. En revanche, je me sens un peu triste car il me manque quelque chose... il y a toujours quelque chose qui me manque pendant Noël, le réveillon, ou la Saint Valentin...

Bref, je veux terminer ce message heureusement et je vous souhaite un bon réveillon pour ce soir, et un merveilleux début pour le nouvel an ! Amusez-vous bien ce soir !

Je voudrais ajouter cette photo de papillotes. Elles sont nomées pour le petit papier à l'intérieur.

The small pieces of parchment paper inside have quotes and sayings. Mine says:

Which word means a chocolate delicacy, the state of a pipe which functions badly and a person who can't hear at the same time?

Une bouchée

In confectionery, what do we call the paper which surrounds certain candies: a butterfly, a curlpaper or a straw hut? (translation doesn't quite work - LOL)

Une papillote

Ils contiennent de petits morceaux de papier parcheminé à l'intérieur avec des citations et des énonciations. Le mien dit :

• Quel mot désigne à la fois une friandise au chocolate, l'état d'un tuyau qui fonctionne mal et d'une personne qui entend mal ?

Une bouchée

• En confiserie, comment appelle-t-on le papier qui enrobe certains bonbons : un papillon, une papillote ou une paillote ?

Une papillote

(image from SNCF website).

Test Podium proficiency tests II

Test Podium
French test level 2
Date of test: 31.12.2010

Test result: 75 % correct

Grading according to section

Grammar 75.00%
Vocabulary 50.00%
Communication 75.00%
Listening comprehension 87.50%
Reading comprehension 87.50%

Level: Advanced level 1 (50/60 Points)

Description of language level
Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
(Referential description of level by the European language portfolio)

and their grading and corresponding CEFR levels:

Elementary 1 (00-10 points) A1
Elementary 2 (11-20 points) A2
Intermediate 1 (21-30 points) B1
Intermediate 2 (31-40 points) B2
Advanced 1 (41-50 points) C1
Advanced 2 (51-60 points) C2

So according to them, I'm at C1 level, bordering on C2! Woohoo!

I last did this test on 13 Sept 2009 (15 months ago!) and scored 37.5/60 (B2). I'd really like to be at least C1 bordering on C2 ASAP given how much time has passed and I've lived in France for 3 months now...

The Journey Part VI

The Journey Part I

The Journey Part II

The Journey Part III

The Journey Part IV

The Journey Part V

The Journey 
Part VI - all new. Now with even more pictures!  :)

In Part V I talked about the amazing pâtisserie. I don't know where it is exactly but it's very close to this strange metallic modern-looking building, on the corner of Rue Croix des Petits Champs and Rue Saint-Honoré which I found out is the Ministry of Culture and Communication of France (Ministère de la Culture et Communication de France).

Can you believe I saw this man walk by? I wasn't fast enough with my camera so I caught him with his hand across his face but how funny and stereotypical is that?! A beret and a blue/white striped shirt! All he needs is to do is carry a long baguette, and be riding a bike! hahaha

I was starving but it wasn't quite 12 noon yet so I walked into the first restaurant which was open and already had people in it (noone was eating though). Remember I hadn't eaten properly for many many days and I didn't even care how much the meal would cost me. I just wanted a proper meal and my first French meal for the start of my new life in France. How exciting!

I ended up at Cafés Richard and ordered a entrée and a main (I had the goodie from the pâtisserie for dessert and I find the desserts in restaurants don't tend to be as good as the beauties I find in pâtisseries anyway).

The entrée I chose was an onion soup and it was covered with melted cheese (soupe à l'oignon gratinée). Considering the weather, it was exactly what I wanted/needed. It was a little bit too salty for my taste but I quite liked it! It came with bread and a jug of water.

For the main I chose the rabbit with herbs, butter and Chinese cabbage (râble de lapin farci aux herbes, embeurie de choux chinois) just to try something new. I guess it's an acquired taste because I didn't like it that much and didn't finish it but I'm still glad I tried it. I was amazed at how finely the vegetables were chopped and remember some technique like that on Masterchef.

After that I made my way over to the Louvre courtyard and I'm sure you don't need to see photos of that! Ok just one. It was raining slightly (sun shower?) and it made an interesting reflection.

I spent ages walking around trying to find that mini pyramid that was in the Da Vinci code story but couldn't find it! Anyone know where it is and how I can see it from the street level? I already went into the Louvre before so I didn't need to go again but here's a tip that I read somewhere... don't queue at street level. Go via the métro (underground) Palais Royal Musée du Louvre and you don't need to queue!

I didn't have much time to do a lot so then I just wandered over to the Champs Elysées... and I noticed the gorgeous autumn leaves colours just adjacent.

Eventually I had to go back to Gare de Lyon to catch my train to my new future home town!! It was absolute chaos. The station is under renovations and I saw a sign which looked like this:

which is confusing for a newbie. Luckily I didn't need to know what any of that meant. I already found the consignes before and I was just sitting on my Zuca suitcase squished amongst the crowd, waiting for the signboard to tell me which platform to go to.

There are the blue platforms and the yellow ones and mine was a yellow one. They don't tell you the number of your platform (voie) until about 10 minutes before it departs so as soon as it does there is a big swarm of people getting up and walking quickly towards their train...

I was marvelling at the gorgeous autumn leaves colours from the train and a few hours later I was picked up by my new hosts that I found through Couch Surfing. I had hosted before but never surfed before and this was going to my first experience.

Luckily for me, it was an awesome awesome one. They were so hospitable to me... They fed me and looked after me and were oh-so-kind. I couldn't have been luckier or happier!

... to be continued... stay tuned for the last part of "The Journey"!

The Journey VII

jeudi 30 décembre 2010

French Fashion and Clothing Vocabulary

All the words you'll ever need when you go clothes shopping in store or online!
C'est tout ce qu'il vous faut quand vous faites les courses dans les magasins ou sur l'internet !

Whilst doing some online shopping for clothes (more like window shopping as I spend hours browsing without actually buying anything!) I started to learn a whole heap of new words so I thought I'd compile some I found and share :)

Fashion vocab/Vocabulaire de la mode

des vêtements (m)/des habits (m)/
des tenues (f)/des fringues (f)
un haut top
un manteau coat
un imperméable raincoat
un blouson/une veste (de tailleur) (tailored) jacket
un anorak anorak
une doudoune down-filled jacket
un trench trenchcoat
une parka parka
un coupe-vent wind-breaker
une cape cape
un pull pullover/sweater/jumper
un sweat-shirt pullover/sweater/jumper
un tee-shirt t-shirt
un débardeur tank top (sleeveless top)
une tunique tunic
un bustier bustier top
un pantalon pants
un pantacourt 3/4 capri pants
un jean jeans
un legging leggings
un short shorts
un pyjama pajamas/pyjamas
un tailleur / un costume suit
une chemise (men's)shirt
un chemisier women's shirt/blouse
une robe dress
une (mini)jupe (mini)skirt
un paréo sarong
une combinaison jumpsuit
un gilet waistcoat/vest/cardigan
un cardigan cardigan
un boléro bolero
un bleu de travail (blue) work overalls
une salopette overalls
un smoking dinner jacket/suit
un survêtement tracksuit
Underwear/Lingerie/Swimwear/Vêtements de bain 
un soutien-gorge bra
des bas (m) / un collant stockings/tights/pantyhose
un slip/une culotte underpants
un string g-string
une chemise de nuit/un peignoir nightgown/dressing gown
une sortie de bain bathrobe
un jupon petticoat skirt
un porte jarretelles suspenders
un caleçon boxer shorts
un boxer boxer shorts (tighter kind)
un maillot (de bain)   bathing suit/swimming costume
un bikini bikini
des chaussettes (f) socks
des (chaussures à hauts) talons (f) high heeled shoes
des tennis (m) / des baskets (m) sneakers
des bottes (f)/des boots (m) boots
des ballerines (f) ballerina shoes/slippers
des escarpins (m) pumps
des salomés (f) t-bar shoes
des mary janes (f) mary janes
des derbies (m) derby shoes
des mocassins (m) mocassins
des richelieux (m) brogues/brogue shoes
des sandales (f) sandals
des bottes de pluie (f) rainboots/wellingtons
des bottes en caoutchouc (f) rubber boots/rainboots/wellingtons
des talons aiguilles (f) stilettos
des chaussons (m)/des pantoufles (f) slippers
des gants (m) gloves
une mitaine mittans
une écharpe scarf (wool kind)
un foulard scarf (thin silk/cotton kind)/shawl
uné étole stole/wrap/shawl
un chèche big veil/turban type scarf
des bijoux jewel(le)ry
un collier necklace
un sautoir long necklace
un collier ras de cou choker necklace
un bracelet bracelet
des boucles d'oreilles earrings
une bague ring
une parure set (of jewellery)
un noeud bow (or a knot)
une cravate tie
un noeud papillon bowtie
une casquette cap
un chapeau hat
une capuche hood
une capeline wide-brimmed hat
un bonnet hat (wool winter kind)
une ceinture belt
des bretelles (f) braces (straps)
des boutons de manchettes (m) cufflinks
un parapluie umbrella
maroquinerie leathergoods (usually refers to handbags)
un sac à main handbag
une sacoche saddlebag/satchel/big handbag
une pochette small handbag
une porte-monnaie purse
un portefeuille wallet
un sac à dos backpack
un porte-clé keyring/keychain
une braguette zip(per)
un bouton button
des lacets (m) laces (on shoes)
un col collar
un col rond/v/roulé/montant

col claudine
round neck/v-neck/turtleneck (or cowl neck)/high neck
Peter Pan collar
une manche / manches longues (abbr: ML) / manches courtes (MC) / sans manches sleeve / long sleeves /short sleeves / sleeveless
une poche pocket
un poignet wrist(band/cuff)
bords-côtestight sleeve/pant edge
une doublure lining
un revers reverse (side)
une finition finishing touches
Fabrics/Tissu / Composition/ Composition
coton (m) cotton
laine (f) wool
cuir (m) leather
daim (m) suede
soie (f) silk
acrylique (m) acrylic
polyester (m) polyester
polyamide (m) polyamide
lin (m) linen
cachemire (m) cashmere
feutre (m) felt
feutre (m) velour
velours (m) velvet
(façon) jean denim
nylon (m) nylon
dentelle (f) lace
viscose (f) viscose
rayonne (f) rayon
mohair (m) mohair
latex (m) latex
spandex (m) spandex
élasthanne (m) elastane
mousseline (f) chiffon
organza (m) organza
taffetas (m) taffeta
toile (f) canvas
lurex (m) lurex
alpaga (m) alpaca
poils de chameau (m) camel hair
lapin (m) rabbit fur
fourrure (f) fur
polaire (f) (polar) fleece
tissu synthétique (m) synthetic
tricoté(e) knitted (wool)
maille (f) knitted (tops/sweaters)
maille épaisse/grosse maille chunky/heavy knit
maille fine fine knit

imprimé printed
rayures stripes
(petits) carreaux checks/plaid
(petits) pois polka dots
intarsia argyle (diamond pattern)

plis pleats
plissé pleated
bouffant puffy
fermeture boutonnée button closure
fermeture zippée zipper closure
un couleur colo(u)r
une tendance trend/style
une marque brand
une nouveauté new release
bonnes affaires on sale
une taille height
un poids weight
tour de... around the…
(la) poitrine bust
(la) taille waist
(la) hanche/un bassin hips
la longueur d'entrejambe inner leg length

Example of a complicated description: (from

and my translation:

        Col montant plissé et bouffant
        Manches longues avec liens de serrage
        2 poches plissées devant
        Bords-côtes col, poignets et poches
        Découpes surpiquées fantaisies devant et au dos
        Plis plats et élastiques au dos
        Fermeture boutonnée et zippée sous patte devant
        Intérieur doublé beige façon polaire
        Couleur : beige
        Composition : 55 % coton et 45% polyamide
        Tour de taille : 88 cm env. pour une taille 38
        Longueur côté : 100 cm env.
        Lavage à la machine à 30° recommandé

        High collar, pleated and puffy
        Long sleeves with tightening 'lines' (ribbons)
        2 pleated pockets in front
        Tight sleeve cuffs, wrists and pockets
        Die-cut seams (?) top-stitched in fantasy-style in front and at the back
        Flat and elasticated pleats at the back
        Button and Zip closure and underlining??? in front
        Interior lined in beige polar fleece
        Colour: beige
        Composition: 55% cotton and 45% polyamide
        Around the waist: approx. 88cm for size 38
        Length to the edge: approx 100cm
        Machine wash at 30° recommended

(Image of "sous patte" etc from here)

mardi 28 décembre 2010

Film review: Le Nom des gens (The Names of Love)

I saw this film today in Nantes when I am currently. It was so hard to choose a film. It's funny, when I was in Australia all I ever wanted to see were French (and foreign) films but now I'm in France I only want to see English-speaking films. I guess it's the "grass is greener" concept or the case of wanting what is rare!

Anyway, I thought I'd be brave and see my first ever French film sans sous-titres (without subtitles)! I wanted one around 3 or 4 pm so that limited my choices too (and therefore actually made it easier to decide)... I wanted a comedy too and ended up choosing Le Nom des gens (English title: The names of love, which is not a literal translation).

I instantly recognised Jacques Gamblin (Arthur Martin) from Le premier jour du reste de ta vie which I reviewed before. I don't think I've seen Sara Forestier (Bahia Benmahmoud) before but with her bright blue? green? eyes and dark wavy hair in the film she was stunning and looked like a cross between Miranda Kerr and Marion Cotillard.

I admit that while my listening is getting a lot better, there were some things in the film that I missed. Also I missed all the cultural references and nuances. Thus this is not really a complete review.

The film addresses culture and race and the subject of identity. As someone who is Australian but was not born here and does not 'look' Australian, it's something I can relate to a LOT.

It's funny, and sweet and touching and like all French films, it shows the joys and sorrows of life...  I really enjoyed it. There is plenty of nudity so it's something to be wary of if that sort of thing upsets you (or... it's not really a movie to bring kids to).

It actually wasn't as hard as I thought to understand the film without subtitles although I seem to have a delayed reaction syndrome where I'm 2 seconds behind what they are saying. Eventually I'll get there though.

If you like romantic comedies with a different spin, I'd definitely say to give this a go. The chemistry between the two leading stars is wonderful.


Premiere: Le nom des gens
imdb: The names of love

Teaser 1

Teaser 2

Teaser 3

dimanche 26 décembre 2010

Christmas Holiday Fun in France (and Germany)

I've been travelling for a week straight now and had the most wonderful time!! So many great experiences and memories... The best was I got to experience snow in Paris. And during Christmas too. How many people can say they've done that?! When I get a moment to collect my thoughts (and photos!) I'll do a post on the places I visited...

Meanwhile, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and will have a wonderful 2011.

Bonne Année tout le monde !

(image of German Christmas market from: here)

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