After last night's clash of the titans at Stade de France, Jonny Wilkinson was interviewed by France 2 in apparent staged fashion. Responding to a general question about the way the match went; Monsieur Wilkinson heaped praise on the young French side that he'd just helped to defeat, in English. No great surprise there. But then, contrary to normal procedure (whereby an interpreter voice-over's the response in French) Jonny was asked to provide his own translation in French, which he did - and admirably so. Okay so his accent was terrible, and he may well have stuck to straight Michel Thomas grammar, but it was pretty much spot-on. Not easy, when you have an audience of x million foreigners listening to your every word, but then I guess he's used to a bit of pressure under the eye of the public. So what was this all about? A spectacular bit of PR for England rugby? JW's desire to show off his public school education? Or, could it be that JW is planning to relocate? It would make sense, after [...]
Nothing separates the French more than the health care system. While it is hailed as one of the best systems in the world, your perception of it will depend upon how much you pay. Yes, you have to pay for healthcare in France. Or rather: healthcare mutual insurance. Essentially there are two levels of cover: standard and 'complÃ©mentaire'. Both levels cover you for life-saving and compulsory health care (such as vaccinations). Included too is free maternity care and child care up to the age of eighteen. When I say 'free' - that means free provided you fill out all the right forms at the right times! The real difference between the two levels comes when you need 'non-essential' care. Those with complÃ©mentaire can visit the doctor with wild abandon and pick up most of their medicines and health treatments at no extra charge. Those without must pick up the extra cost. But there are flaws in this system. The 'extra' in the case of pharmaceuticals is dictated by the French state, which sets the tariff for each purchase; but [...]
I learnt today that Strasbourg is home to the International Space University (ISU). Which is apparently THE place to go if you intend to become an cosmonaut or 'space' professional. And you thought Strasbourg was just full of chemists and bureaucrats? I've been asked by a certain ISU student to mention this year's Yuri's Night knees-up. What is Yuri's night? Well it's kind of like Guy Fawkes - but without the effigy burning. On the 12th April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man in Space - a fact that is now celebrated every year on the 12th of April around the world by "people who are excited about space exploration". Well, I'm pretty excited about it ... If you'd like to know more - here's the press release: Celebrate the First Man in Space Yuri's Night is the St Patrick's Day of space... in honor of the first man in space Yuri Gagarin, parties are celebrated all around the world on April 12th. Currently, there are 75 registered parties in 25 countries, to commemorate this revolutionary achievement that [...]
A common complaint among the Anglophonic community in Strasbourg is that it can be a bit boring here. I would disagree. While I think most complaints are directed at the French's inability to drink vast amounts of alcohol on a nightly basis, if you're looking for something to do - Strasbourg is a cultural and entertainment gold mine. Until recently the only facility that Strasbourg lacked was a reasonably sized (contemporary) music venue, but the recent opening of the new Zenith Europe has solved that. For Cinema goers there are a number of venues showing English-language films. A film that is V.O.S.T. (Version Original with Sub-Titles) is shown in the original language - and all cinemas (except the Vox to my knowledge) show VOST films. Check out the Star cinemas, The OdyssÃ©e or CinÃ© CitÃ©. If you like a bit of comedy, well the choices are fewer, mainly because there is almost no English comedy going on in Strasbourg. But don't let that stop you from trying out something French. While stand-up is a no-go area for non-francophones (it's [...]
During this morning's excursion to the Orangerie, I noted that there is a certain odour to Strasbourg's normally fresh air at the moment. It is one of those pungent chemically whiffs that one normally associates with the ambience of a health clinic. Clean and sterile, but somehow unsettling to the senses. Bizarrely, it is a smell that reminds me of my youth. Could it be that Strasbourg is humming to fragrance of (gulp) nit cream? Est-ce que c'est un Ã©pidÃ©mique de poux?!