Archive for August, 2010

Where Are All The Billboards?

28 August 2010 Leave a comment

It was a revelation during my morning commute. I have always thought my drive into work at Amadeus was so beautiful.  Part of that journey includes 8 minutes on the infamous A8 with the hills on one side and the sea on the other.  Both factors make it a very pleasant 8 minutes.  (Of course when La Rentrée happens in September and the traffic increases, ask me again how pleasant those 8 minutes are.)  In any case, I recently realized just how empty that scene is . . . meaning void of billboards.  Of course there are trees, beautiful homes and even a train track but the absence of commercialism is a beautiful thing.  Now I do have to clarify, they do exist in France but they are definitely not as plentiful.  Once I get within the city limits of Nice, there are plenty of advertisements on building’s walls and at the bus stops.  Yet you do appreciate the fact that you are not completely surrounded by people trying to get you to buy things, things you really don’t need.

The Joy of Not Being Sold Anything

The Joy of Not Being Sold Anything

This observation leads me to one my own personal attractions to this country (and really Europe as a whole) is the emphasis on quality and not quantity.  In the States there is such an emphasis on obtaining, buying and accumulating.  No wonder the storage industry is booming there.  In France, there is definitely a different take on life and wanting the best quality in the moment.  There is one blogger that I have been watching for years that recently wrote about this very subject as well, Adrian Leeds.  She is an American living in Paris for 16 years and found her niche in helping Americans buy property in France (which is actually easier to do than the States).  Routinely she has her own adventures and observations of the French culture that she has wholeheartedly embraced.  She also holds twice a week a language exchange in Paris where for 30 minutes you talk French and the other 30 minutes you talk English.  It attracts both sides of the spectrum to give an opportunity to practice a foreign language.  I actually went once and met Adrian personally in one of my previous travels to Paris.  In any case, I highly recommend you read her entry Never Say Never, Never Say Forever.  It is insightful on why there are several American and English expats living in France.    Plus I find myself aligned heavily with her beliefs.

Life Long Enhanced Creative Skills

Life Long Enhanced Creative Skills

While we are on the subject on why do people move to another country, there was a recent report showing the impacts of such a drastic move.  Of course it is a positive one. 🙂  The report provided by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that individuals who lived in another country outside of their own end up having life-long enhanced creative skills.  But you have to take the jump!  Just traveling on vacations to foreign countries doesn’t warrant the difference as you are still in your comfort zone and get to go back home.  You have to endure the change, learn the language and discover other modes of thinking.

My final thought? A quick reference to the Wall Street Journal article of another research study that proved that learning a foreign language is a total transformation in thinking.  Your native language greatly influences how you see and comprehend the world.  Studying another language, even though you may not use it often, can still open a whole new world for you.  A perfect example in the English/French frontier is the phrase I miss you.  In French it is Tu me manques.  I have always found this phrase a linguistic delight as in English the subject of the phrase is the person having the emotion whereas in French they understand the subject to be the person receiving the emotion.  A more literal English translation of latter phrase is You are being missed by me.  So who is that emotional experience truly about?  You or me? 😉

So as the school year begins again, encourage the students around you to find a language they like and do a semester abroad.  And just maybe they will go after their dreams like I have.

Categories: Everyday Life

What?! I Am Not THAT Rude.

25 August 2010 Leave a comment

Oh my God, I am so euphoric now that I don’t know how to act. I am typing away on my laptop in my apartment in the French Riviera.  Yes I have Internet, and a fixed phone line with free calls to the States, and digital TV to expand my French vocabulary.

I hope none of you thought that I have become rude and blew everyone off just because I have left the country for a place that has way better weather.  My absence from this blog has been due to a myriad of reasons and of course I will explain.

OuvertCan I blame it all on France? Not at all.  Yes, things do go slowly here in the Hexagon.  Yes, everyone rolls their eyes when you mention Orange/France Telecom.  Yes, it did take almost 6 weeks to get my access codes.  However there also the additional factors of a language barrier, being a working professional confining a lot of activities to Saturdays, hosting friends who are visiting and most importantly – the fact they had my account connected to a unit on the 5th floorI live on the 7th floor. 🙂  Yes, on Saturday the engineer from Orange gracefully assessed the situation, rather quickly, and went to the basement of the building and down to the corner of the street to align all the inner connections of what makes a telephone line, a telephone line.  Then we plugged the converter box back in and voila!  I got beautiful solid orange lights instead of nasty blinking red ones.

Then we tested the phone – it works! Finally we moved to the television.  Here we realized I needed a couple of peripherals as I just bought the LED television that required a different cable.  Then I became impressed with Orange in spite of its reputation. He, the engineer, actually came back later in the afternoon to ensure everything was working.   He allowed me to run to the Orange boutique at the mall to buy the necessary items while he went to his other two appointments!  Beautiful.

Now here is something to really go with your pain paysan and brie, an expert on wine.  After he came back and we got the television working, we moved to a casual conversation (in French) about wines as he was originally from the Bordeaux region.  He then proceeded to explain to me the difference of a “N” and a “R” on the corks of a bottle of wine.  N is for negocié meaning the distributor chose grapes from more than one vineyard to make the vine.  R is for reservé meaning that all the grapes came from only one vineyard, one plant, one type of soil, one process.  So in other words, the R’s are looked at as more pure and consequently slightly higher in price.  Trust me the N’s are not bad here and I drink them regularly but now I know the difference and which one I should get as gifts for friends. 😉  Of course I am slightly resentful of the fact that none of my current French friends took the time to show me this crucial piece of information in order to be a human being of status.  I had to wait to get my Internet installed.

As the sun begins to set behind my apartment and I look out to the sea, I will tell you to be prepared for more blogs.  I am officially open for in business.

Categories: Everyday Life