Yearly Archives: 2012


End of Semester

By |2017-01-06T11:16:32+01:00December 27th, 2012|Life in France, Strasbourg|

So what's it like to be an English Masters Student at the University of Strasbourg? Well after a whole semester there I feel I am now in a position to make an objective(ish) judgement. First off, I have to say that the quality of teaching is superlative.  I have had the honour to be in the presence of some very great minds, all of whom are capable of some quite profound elucidation, not just in English but in French too - and both flawlessly.  An inferiority complex is not hard to come by here.  I'm rubbish. Personally I found the timetable a bit of a challenge.  Up to 14 hours of seminars every week ... which in addition to 6 hours of teaching, 8 hours of freelance work and copious parenting obligations - made finding personal study time a near impossible task.  Which is my excuse for failing my exams... The teacher-training element of the course 'didactics' is handled by the IUFM from a brand new building down in Meinau.  While the facilities there are excellent, the positives in [...]


By |2017-01-06T11:16:32+01:00October 27th, 2012|Uncategorized|

Firstly I should apologise to 'organic' surfers who have hit this page in search of the latest gossip about Bono et al. - because this post has nothing to do with ageing Irish Rock Bands.  Well, almost nothing. Actually, I have to confess, my fondness for U2 (yes, the band) has been on the wane since arriving in Strasbourg. Perhaps if Top Music, RFM, Virgin and just about every other 'pop' radio station didn't play their tracks incessantly - then I might not feel this way. One supposes that their popularity relates partly to Bono's crisp elocution.  After all, if you can sing along (albeit in a foreign language) then it adds a certain je ne sais quoi.  This would also explain the equal saturation of Phil Collins and Supertramp on the airwaves. I digress. U2 also happens to be the name given to the University of Strasbourg's Humanities Library ("U2-U3" to give it it's full title).  Why it was named suchly I cannot fathom, but it certainly paints the building as an enigma. The U2 sits unassumingly at [...]

Am I the only man in the room?

By |2012-10-05T14:29:20+01:00October 5th, 2012|Strasbourg|

Yes, you are. All of the students around you, including a not insignificant number on foreign exchange programmes, and the teacher are indeed ... female. Unfortunately you are also old enough to have fathered most of them ... except the teacher." ... said my ethereal self to my other inner self last Wednesday morning at approximately o'eight hundred hours (for we use the twenty-four hour clock in France); drawing my attention to the general genre of my surroundings.[...]

Mon Impasse Campus

By |2017-01-06T11:16:32+01:00September 12th, 2012|Life in France, Strasbourg|

So my first week of studies seems to be going well. It has been a steep learning curve on all facets of University life. This is what I have learned so far:

  1. local dogs go for walkies on Campus at night - just so there's plenty of caca for us to step in by day
  2. the machine coffee is rubbish [...]

Let’s talk about fees, baby

By |2017-01-06T11:16:32+01:00September 10th, 2012|Strasbourg|

Traditional A-level disciplines such as French are in “freefall” following a record decline in entry rates over the last decade ... according to recent figures. It seems the youth of Britain remain wholly unconvinced as to the usefulness of mastering a foreign language. If you ask me, this is because the reasons for doing as much have never been presented terribly well. [...]

Back to school …

By |2017-01-06T11:16:32+01:00September 1st, 2012|Strasbourg|

Prisoner cell block Patio ... or 'la rentrée' if you prefer, is upon us. We, like all normalised French residents, have spent the past two months en vacances. In essence this means we have sent our kids away at every opportunity - so that we can enjoy some peace and quiet at home. Three weeks out of the eight were spent with number one son at sports, arts or revision 'stages'. Fortunately he enjoyed it all enormously - so we didn't feel too guilty. The rentrée is particularly curious for us this year, as I have signed up to do a Masters at the University of Strasbourg. My motivation is threefold: to improve my teaching skills for the benefit of my current students; to get a masters (because a man of my age needs one in France) and with a view to possibly taking the CAPES or Agrégation teaching for a future career teaching English in the public sector. So I shall be going "back to school" too, albeit almost twenty years since I was last at [...]

Planet Sushi: what planet are they on?

By |2012-06-28T08:43:12+01:00June 28th, 2012|Strasbourg|

When it comes to food I am always ready to try something new. However, since accidentally ordering whole, cold, curried squid for breakfast in Yogjakarta some years ago, I do now at least make a point of knowing what it is I'm biting into first. My gung-ho days are long gone. It is with this spirit that I approached a recent takeaway menu shoved through the door from Strasbourg's newest Sushi restaurant: Planet Sushi. [...]


By |2017-01-06T11:16:33+01:00June 7th, 2012|Life in France|

I took these pictures outside the International school last week: some posters pasted on the official election boards outside what will be the local polling station for France's legislative elections. I can't vote, but if I could - it would be a difficult choice as there are candidates from the whole political and philosophical spectrum: [...]

The worst ad on TV?

By |2017-01-06T11:16:33+01:00June 5th, 2012|Uncategorized|

The arrival of the amiable Jo-Wilfred Tsonga on our screens, as Roland Garros graces us once more with two weeks of top-notch tennis, is a welcome sight ... for once. While his boyish charm and and sporting prowess make JW one of France's best-loved sportsmen, his role in a seemingly never-ending TV campaign for Kinder Bueno make his face a less-then-welcome sight for the rest of the year. The creatives in adland have decided that Beuno is great for sharing - because it is formed of two sickly-sweet  bars of chocolate. So, each ad features Mr Tsonga sharing his Beuno with an attractive girl. OK, so the idea is not bad on paper. However the scenario is excruciatingly contrived, the production values are lamentable and the acting is about what you'd expect from an Australian soap opera. To cap it all the choice of music that accompanies the outro is Lilly Allen's "22" - with the wildly (in)appropriate lyrics "It's sad but it's true how society says, Her life is already over" - implying that the girl who is forced [...]

Unjust Desserts

By |2012-06-03T11:37:04+01:00June 3rd, 2012|Life in France|

Learning to speak French like a native is a perpetual challenge. While I may have been complimented, numerous times, upon my abilities in the language, unspoken criticism in equal measure is not far behind. For example, one of my immediate neighbours, whom I occasionally bump into in the entrance hall, has an unforgiving ear when it comes to my English accent. The signals arriving at his auditory cortex from his outer ear seem, perpetually, to have no relation whatsoever with the soundwaves emanating from my voice-box. A typical exchange might go like this ...