mardi 15 juillet 2014

French: To vous or to tu?

You might have seen this chart already, it's from the LA Times. Somebody made this useful (and funny) flowchart to help you figure out whether to 'tu' or to 'vous' someone.

I usually wait for the other person to see what they call me and I use the same word back. If they don't use either as it hasn't come up in the conversation yet, I would tend to use 'vous' UNLESS we are of a similar age or they are younger than me. I've met people younger than me who wanted to 'vous' me and I asked them to 'tu' me and they still 'vous'ed me!  I dunno... for me it's kind of like being called Madame instead of Mademoiselle. It makes me feel old!

I had also read that online, people tend to 'tu' each other.

Another interesting thing to do is to watch French films and see whether the characters use vous or tu depending on their relationship with each other.

tutoyer - the act of calling the other person 'tu' (informal 'you')
vousvoyer - the act of calling the other person 'vous' (formal 'you')
tutoiement / vouvoiement - the manner of addressing the ther person

Have fun! ;)

dimanche 13 juillet 2014

Are the French afraid to be single?

I was thinking back to all the French friends I made while I was studying French. Some of them were single at the time but most of them were living with their partner.

And now, nearly all of them are married or they have kids (but are not married).

But I get the feeling that:

  1. Many French people are afraid to be single. It's not 'cool' to be single. They would rather be in a bad relationship than none at all.
  2. They don't really value marriage but like to live in a marriage-type situation (PACSé) and have kids (after they have been together a number of years). 
It's true that the birth rate in France is one of the highest in Europe (link)

But I don't think it's just a French thing. I think it's a very European thing to co-habitate from a young age (early 20s) and then live with that person for like 10+ years then eventually think about getting married and/or having kids.  Breaking up seems to be out of the question!

I feel like it's the same for platonic friendships. People just keep the same friends they've always had and aren't really open to the idea of making new ones once they are in their late 20s or 30s.

I also feel that it's kind of similar to religious or 'ethnic' people of certain cultures, where there is this unspoken rule that the first or second person you ever fall in love with, you just have to stick with them for life, no matter what. Now I'm not saying that French people don't get divorced, I'm sure they do... but I was just talking about being in your 20s where it's acceptable to 'try' a number of different partners, I really feel that many French people would rather die than breakup and be single (feel free to prove me wrong! ;) )

No real point to this blogpost, but just some thoughts that were running around in my head...

BTW watch this video.

dimanche 18 mai 2014

Language learning websites, friends and expats

I can't believe how long it's been that I started on this French journey, not only learning the language but actually moving to the country... I can't believe how far I've come intellectually, emotionally and spiritually...

I also can't believe the friends I've made through the language learning websites I used. and even though we are not close anymore (and I don't use those sites anymore) we still keep in touch and it's amazing how much people's lives have changed in just a few short years.

Something I think about all the time is if and when I'll return home. I know that I will but it's just a matter of when. But time and time again, I hear the same things from my French and other European friends who moved to Australia. They love it there but it's just too far from home... And I have basically the same and opposite experience too.

I decided to write this post because a friend of mine that I met on a language learning site (Live Mocha) way back in 2009 has been living in Australia the past couple of years (doing the opposite of what I'm doing) and finally decided to move back home this year. I had another French friend (that I met in another country) who also did the same thing a year ago, after expating through various countries he ended up in Australia, and decided to go back to France. I just keep hearing the same thing over and over again. Everybody loves Australia but they can't deal with being so far away from family and friends :(

I think it has a lot to do with age, too. When you are in your 20s or early 30s you are still pretty free and 'wild' but then from your mid 30s on something just kicks in and you start thinking about your ageing parents and if, when (and WHERE in the case of expats) you are going to have kids... It's something quite stressful for me to think about, to be honest. Because I've lived in a few different countries now I know that no matter where I live I'll always miss other countries/continents hugely, and of course when I'm away from home (Australia) like now I always miss home a lot.

There are a lot of great experiences I've had, but as with all expats, there are sacrifices to be made too, unfortunately.

For those of you thinking of moving overseas I would highly recommend it but at the same time just know that it's nothing like in the movies, and it's nothing like travelling. Real life is hard no matter where you are, but even moreso in a foreign (non English speaking) country. And it's super hard when you are going from Australia to Europe or vice versa. If you (like most Europeans) are going from one European country to another you can still visit your family easily and often and there isn't a huge culture difference within western continental Europe. But with Australia it's really a whole new world.. something I'm forever having to explain to my European friends who've never lived outside the continent. Even those in the US don't have it as hard even though the US is also far. Australia has a 9 or 10 hour time difference to Europe, and we have opposite seasons, and we drive on the left hand side of the world, and we have a totally different electrical plug, and... and... ;P Flights are hideously expensive but even if you had the money you need to have a decent amount of leave to be able to go between the 2 continents otherwise it's just not worth it with a 20-30 hour flight each way. You need (in my experience) at least 3 days just to get over the jetlag when you fly to Australia. Luckily going to Europe I only need 1-2 days.

Despite every hard thing I've gone through though, I would not give it up for the world. :)

(image from here)

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