Panda in Paris

je n’ai pas peur des americains

Posted in France by parisianpanda on January 25, 2010
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“ni des cons ni des poiliticiens
mais j’ai peur de t’attraper la main
et que tu m’esquives encore”

Mickey 3D : Matador

1) I have decided to stop complaining so much about work, because it is sort of unreasonable to complain about a job that gives me an almost-livable salary for 12(ish) hours a week of n’importe quoi. I am still going to make fun of people at work who do ridiculous things, though, such as:

a) During a lesson about cliches when I had students think of cliches they have about Americans, one girl said all of our movies have “happy hands.” Everyone in the class agreed, American movies definitely always have happy hands. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I made her show me what she wrote – “happy ends.” This is an example of hyperforeignism, because there is no aspirated H sound in France and the French often forget to pronounce the H when speaking English, so sometimes they overcompensate and put it where it doesn’t exist. This is like when Americans use the expression “coup de grâce” (“blow of mercy”/the final blow that puts someone out of their misery) and pronounce it without the “ce” sound because often in French they don’t pronounce the end of words. (In this case what Americans say sounds like “coup de gras”/blow of fat.)

Happy hand?

b) A conversation with a French teacher at the high school:

Teacher: Your name is Amanda?
Me: Yes.
Teacher: That’s weird. It sounds African. Is that a common name in your country?
Me: Yes, it’s very common.
Teacher: That’s so strange. French girls are never called Amanda.
Me: [No, because French girls are all called Anne-Laure-Sophie-Claire-Marie Dupont-Chateaubriand.] No, the French version seems to be Amandine.
Teacher: Yes, but only old people have that name.
I smiled politely.

2) I finally went to the university to inquire about enrolling with my weird transcript. I didn’t really succeed at explaining that I do not have grades, not even ABCD grades, until finally the woman said as long as they’re in English and not Danish someone will be able to read them. I will have to take a French proficiency test, which makes me nervous because I’m bad at standardized tests and because even though I get lots of compliments about my spoken French I haven’t had to seriously write in French since the last quarter at Evergreen. I would still rather take a French proficiency test ten times that take the GRE once, because I’ve realized the only reason I can add/subtract/multiply/divide at all is because of the flashcards my dad made me do constantly in elementary school and not because I actually understand how math works.

3) Yesterday David and Katarina called me out for doing this French air-puff-lip thing that involves filling your lips with air and blowing when someone asks you a question you weren’t expecting and you’re trying to think of a response. I have either picked this up from Corentin or my old host mother, because they both do it constantly. Two is not really a good sample size for calling it a “French thing” but I’m going to assume it is anyway.

4) We have started doing pub quizzes on Monday nights. It’s sort of like knowledge bowl in high school, except with more alcohol and less crushing disappointment.

5) Can anyone tell me why the little feedjit thing on the right thinks I’m in Bordeaux whenever I come on this blog from the high school? I am quite far from Bordeaux.

6) I have evangelized Community to David and Katarina. I’ve loved it ever since I went home for Christmas. How come no one told me how great this show was earlier?



you’d think after 22 years I’d be used to the spin

Posted in France by parisianpanda on January 14, 2010
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“but it only feels worse when I stay in one place,
that’s why I’m always pacing around or walking away.”

1) My birthday was on Monday and lots of multinational fun was had.

Yeah friendship!

Some more friendship!

Still more friendship!

My mom called a bakery and had them deliver me a delicious cake even though she can't speak any French! Thanks Mom!

The old picture-of-a-picture trick!

My roomie, Spanish assistant and matador extraordinaire

Florian the German assistant, who is pricelessly photogenic.

He is opening champagne but you can't see it!


Anyway, fun was had and memories were made. None of my friends drunkenly kissed my roommate’s feet as they were leaving, which means my 22nd birthday one-upped my 21st birthday in classiness, but it’s mostly because Levallois is tenfold a classier town than Olympia, Washington.

2) I tried going to the university in Creteil today, which was a bad idea because I woke up too late to wait in line to talk to the secretary without being late for babysitting, after riding the metro for an hour to get there and then spending another half hour being lost. At least I know where it is now. If I grow a spine by Wednesday I will probably go then.

3) There is a burger joint down the street from the lycee called Fleche Burger. “Fleche” means arrow in French but is pronounced like “flesh,” so it is one of the most unappetizing restaurant names I have ever come across. It is a good thing for their business that I am probably the only native English speaker to spend so much time in Colombes.

4) I was talking to an Irish woman in my improv class today about expat life in Paris. She has been here for ten years and said as much as she likes the city and the lifestyle, she hates that everything is “unnecessarily difficult and getting anything done requires a fight and a status battle.” It sort of comforts me to know that this is a tangible problem and not something I’m “not used to.” I think it is one of those things like winter in Minnesota, where if you have not been living there since the day you were born and have it in your blood it is never something you really get “used to.” It did not, however, make me feel like going back to the University at Creteil to inquire about enrolling.

5) Speaking of improv, it takes away 85% of my stress whenever I go and I don’t understand why I didn’t start doing it sooner. I still think I made the right decision deciding not to try and do theater professionally, but spending 2.5 hours a week getting out of my own head and being someone other than me is really essential for my mental health.

6) Speaking of getting out of my own head, I’ve been thinking of taking up paint huffing because my American anti-drug education told me that kills off a number of brain cells. I could use a few less, my brain is in overdrive as it is. But whatever chemicals are in spray paint in America are probably banned in Europe like every other chemical that is harmful to your health. Jerks. Doesn’t Europe care about corporate welfare?


(PS Now that I have both a functional computer and functional internet access, people really need to start Skyping with me, especially if they live in Rock Maple.)


Posted in France by parisianpanda on January 10, 2010


Posted in France by parisianpanda on January 7, 2010
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1) New Year’s in France was pretty fun, especially after midnight when everyone wanted to play “let’s-practice-our-drunk-English-with-the-American-girl.”

2) I was supposed to go to a French grad school today to discuss whether or not they will accept my crazy Evergreen transcript but then I slept until 1 pm because it’s my day off, so now I’m going next week. Have I mentioned I have a crippling fear of rejection? Because I have a crippling fear of rejection.

3) I have started actually putting a little bit of effort into my lesson plans, and it actually makes my classes run a lot smoother. Who know? I used one of Jennie’s lessons (fabulous resource if you aren’t already using it) about American cliches of French people. Most people tend to think they’re pretty funny, but one of my students on Tuesday was VERY offended and insisted French people weren’t like that at all and came up with a whole list of American cliches as what he called “revenge,” some of which I’m not sure exist. (American men are not as good as husbands as French men?) Even the other students thought he needed to calm down… “Mais c’est une blague, quoi!”

4) My “I-do-not-watch-French-TV-because-it-is-awful” policy has turned into an “I-watch-French-TV-precisely-because-it-is-awful” policy, which is probably only going to get worse next week when we get cable. I am currently watching an American after school special dubbed over in French about a teenage boy who RUINS his life with a pornography addiction. My favorite thing about French dubbing is they always read signs out loud instead of subtitling them, so every time the boy visits a porn site he says things like “big jugs.” No wonder his well-intentioned stepmother catches him.

5) My birthday is on Monday and I have invited people over. Hopefully our new neighbors don’t hate us.

Bananée! (I assure you this is a hilarious pun in French.)