If there’s one thing the French love it’s a good acronym.
Acronyms are basically sequences of capital letters that serve as a shorthand way of referring to something that would take far longer to say or write, or indeed to avoid rewriting or repeating the same words over and over. For example, it’s a lot simpler to write UNESCO than it is to write the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, especially if you plan on referring to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization more than once in a sentence (see what I mean?).
However, as there are no strict rules about how and when acronyms should be used or invented, the French like to create them ad-nausea with the deluded assumption they will make your life easier.
So, if you’re new to Strasbourg, here’s a handy list of local acronyms to get you through the day.
- AFGES: University service which runs the two large campus restaurants. Beware the bums at the door asking you to put a meal on your izly card for them.
- ASPTT: Strasbourg’s largest sports association. Located somewhere west of the motorway – though no-one’s quite sure where.
- BNU: The National Academic Library on Place de la Republic. Beware the security guard on the door – his BO is quite something.
- CAF: Family Allowance Office. Take a ticket, wait, argue, go home to get the justificatif you forgot..
- CEDH: European Court of Human Rights. Surrounded by people camped in tents who don’t understand what the court actually does.
- CoE: Council of Europe – Luckily this one works in English.
- CPAM: Social Security Office (basic health cover). Take a ticket, wait, argue, despair.
- CRIG: Illkirch-Graffenstaden Rugby Club. The best place to send your nippers to follow in the footsteps of Serge Blanco.
- CROUS: Student Union, sort of. They don’t do piss-ups but do run eateries and accommodation round the University.
- CTS: Strasbourg Public Transport. Run an annual open-air Bingo event outside the one and only office in September – if your number’s picked you get to go in and spend money!
- ESCM / IFCE / IFSG etc: Private sector higher education schools. Generally going for acronyms beginning with E or I in the hope they will be confused with a University faculty.
- GCO: The Strasbourg bypass project. The bane of the Great Alsatian Hamster and Brigitte Bardot – though I bet neither have tried driving from Vendenheim to Geispolsheim on a Friday evening.
- RCS: Tricky one this. It could mean Racing Club de Strasbourg (Football) or Rugby Club de Strasbourg.
- RFM: Easy-listening radio station that combines old “classic” tunes with a selection of more recent “tubes.” Tends to play lots of U2 tracks to try and trick you into thinking you’ve just stepped through a wormhole.
- TCS: Strasbourg Tennis Club. The location for the annual WTA tournament and merguez barbecue.
- TJP / TAPS / TNS: Contemporary theatre for all tastes. Uncomfortable seating guaranteed.
- UE: European Union. I’ve added this one as people often confuse it with the EU – which is the United States, of course.
I’ve missed any – please feel free to add them in the comments below.
Welcome to Strasbourg.