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Get your kit off

By |2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00April 23rd, 2013|Strasbourg|

Any visit to the Strasbourg-Alsace region wouldn't be complete without a quick nip across the border to the famous spa town of Baden-Baden for a dip in the waters.Eaux les bains There are two sets of baths that you can check into for a few hours of relaxation: the Friedrichsbad, which is advertised as a "Roman-Irish" spa, and the Caracalla, an all-encompassing spa for the masses. The Roman-Irish experience, although I have yet to experience it myself, combines classic hot baths (Roman) with sadistic cold ones (Irish) [...]

End of Semester

By |2017-01-06T11:16:32+00:00December 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 [...]

Am I the only man in the room?

By |2012-10-05T14:29:20+00:00October 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+00:00September 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+00:00September 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+00:00September 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+00:00June 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. [...]

There must be a Politician in town

By |2011-11-25T12:21:59+00:00November 25th, 2011|Strasbourg|

Judging by the number of hits on this site yesterday - there were obviously a number of people (journalists and researchers I assume) desperate to know more about the meeting of the three heads of government yesterday. In case you didn't know, and if you're a financial commentator it is unlikely, that Sarkozy, Merkel and er, the Italian chap were in town yesterday to discuss a very important thing or two.  I knew something must be up when I cycled past a row of riot vans on my way to drop the kids at school. What they discussed, or why, I couldn't give a monkey's arse about. What does concern me however is why the security forces felt the need to cut off access to Place de la Replublique just before lunchtime. The Town Hall, just next to the Opera House on Place Broglie, is where most non-MEP politicians like to hold meetings. So it often becomes the focal point of any security operation. Meaning the CRS (riot police / armed guards) block off the roads in the immediate [...]

Students Fuck School

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+00:00November 17th, 2011|Life in France, Strasbourg|

Students Poor EnglishAs an expat you frequently have to put up with the locals butchering your mother tongue in person, ("Air io ingleesh?"), in punctuation (sandwich's) and incomprehensible (mental wear, le fooding). Normally this doesn't bother me. If anything, it reminds me that however bad my French may be it will never be as heinous as some of the locals' English, and let's be honest now - sometimes it can be quite amusing! [...]

Solving the Greek debt crisis

By |2011-11-01T16:46:11+00:00November 1st, 2011|Strasbourg|

The whole of the Eurozone 'crisis' is based upon the level of confidence the 'markets' have in the indebted countries being able to repay their debts.  At the moment few believe that the Greeks will be able to repay anything any time soon.  This is primarily because in being Greek, they are known more for Moussaka and monuments than for their ability to make money. Now if the Greeks were actually German - there would be no Greek debt crisis. Which leads me to wonder why no-one has considered this startlingly simple solution to the debt problem: make Greece part of Germany. Call it something like Grecauslandreich, dissolve the national parliament, tear up the constitution, and make it part of Federal Germany. The markets would never doubt the German's ability to improve tax collection techniques, nor honour it's commitments to pay it's debts.  Problem solved. Sure, the Greeks might not like having German as their national language, but what price can you put on German efficiency in times of economic strife eh?  Just think of the fringe benefits: Athens [...]