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 [...]

Strasbourg’s other University

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+00:00September 12th, 2011|Strasbourg|

Although strictly speaking the Université Populaire Européenne (UPE) is actually part of the University of Strasbourg it is very much regarded as something entirely separate from the City's sprawling educational establishment, which this year, as ever, is welcoming over 40,000 students. The reason being is that the UPE is where those of us whom have matured (beyond binge drinking and playing house music until 4am with the windows open), go to study for the sheer pleasure of personal development. For a small annual fee (40 €)  you can enrol to study any number academic, vocational or artistic courses throughout the year; paying 95€ for each 24 week course you take on top.  Which means, in case you hadn't already guessed, it's the perfect place to go to improve your understanding of French for a relatively small outlay. Incredibly, there are some 45 different language classes for non-francophones.  So whatever level you're at - there's bound to be something to whet your appetite.  Moreover, if you're a fluent French speaker already, you might want to consider some of the other [...]

Music Schools in Strasbourg

By |2017-01-06T11:16:34+00:00September 5th, 2011|Strasbourg|

For a city so small it is quite surprising to learn that Strasbourg has no fewer than 17 music schools within it's boundaries.  So if you, or your children (on Wednesdays for example), would like to learn an instrument, sing in a choir, play in an orchestra or simply study the art-form then you're spoiled for choice.  Some are specialist schools, others are colocated within the quartiers socio-culturel centres but all offer one-to-one teaching as well as group classes. With inscriptions starting next week, right now is the best time to start considering which one is right for you.  Pricing is usually per trimestre so remember to times by three to get the annual cost.  Note that whichever course you decide to take you will usually have to pay an annual membership fee to the school on top of your course fees. Now, I have no idea which ones are good or bad or whatever, so if you have any knowledge in this area - please feel free to share it below in the comments form. Otherwise - to [...]