Tag Archives: france

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Vote and Discover

(photo by: www.texasgopvote.com)

For a limited time, bab.la is hosting their annual Top 100 Language Lovers voting for learning blogs, professional blogs, facebook pages, twitterers, and youtube channels. So you can head over here: http://en.bab.la/news/top-100-language-learning-blogs-2014-voting until June 9th for voting.

But this annual contest is not only an opportunity to support any language sites you know that made the cut, but a way to discover more sites that you haven’t previously heard of! There are some amazing writers out there, not only for foreign languages but also in regards to grammar, language evolution, etc. And as there are both individual professional blogs and dictionary blogs that host professional writers, these connections are definitely worth your time.


I myself follow both foreign language blogs, like the incomparable Benny’s Fluent in 3 Months, and English language blogs like Stan Carey’s Sentence First. And there are quite a few great professional twitterers that I love keeping up with as well. But even though my French is progressing nicely, the learning never ends, and so I plan on checking out more sites that address my needs. And this is, of course, a great motivational tool if you have a desire to start a language blog yourself and could one day make the list.
Don’t wait until it’s too late- check it out and vote now!



Chelsea Fairless

Chelsea is a home-bred Texan currently living in Geneva, Switzerland and studying French at the University of Geneva, while living and working with a family as a part-time nanny. She has been living in the Geneva area since August 2012. You can follow more of her story on her blog http://parolepassport.blogspot.com/ and other social media sites.


How to dress the part when studying abroad

(all photos courtesy of Andrea; Mireille is Andrea’s mannequin)

*** Top photo is a no- no; If you wear a large and in charge hat like this in Europe to go to the grocery store or class, you’ll just get curious looks instead of compliments***

Spending time abroad, you’ll find yourself going through a style evolution. You’ll start to incorporate some elements of the host country into your wardrobe. If you study abroad in Europe, you’ll see that scarves and hats are a popular clothing accessory for both men and women. It’s easy to see why they are. They can be functional (i.e. keep you warm when it’s cold) as well as fashionable (i.e. be perfect accessory to your outfit). But most importantly, dressing like the locals will help you to immerse into the study abroad experience by embracing the culture. Clothes are not merely a means to keep warm and protect the body; they also express the values, beliefs, and culture of a group of people (and that is not limited to nationality). Our physical presentation can tell people what kind of music we like, what religion we belong to, as well as what country we come from. A great way to immerse yourself into the culture before you leave to go study abroad is to start dressing like the people in the host country.

In this post, we’ll cover Europe as it is where I studied abroad as well as is a popular destination for many American students. Mireille le mannequin models for us some perfect examples of how to dress like a European.

How to dress like a European (slideshow)

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Andrea illustrates how not to dress like a European

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So what are you waiting for? Open the door to study abroad success by starting to dress like the locals.


Long Distance Romance- An Unnecessary Anchor For Studying Abroad

(photo courtesy of www.sodahead.com)

***Disclaimer: This is an editorial piece. The views expressed in this article are solely mine and do not reflect the opinions of guest bloggers or interviewees. My advice may not work for your individual situation. Please read with caution.

You’ve just got accepted into a study abroad program that is going to jump start your career and help you finish core major course requirements- woohoo! But then you remember that you have that special someone to whom you need to break the news that you are going to be in another country for 5 months or more (if going abroad for an academic year). Your first reaction will be to maintain the relationship à la long distance; weekly skyping on a pre-arranged date and time; sending texts and emails throughout the week; running out of class or leaving that social event early because you get that surprise phone call from your sweetie. These are just some of the more common ways that you will try to maintain a long distance romantic relationship with someone in a different time zone. I know this because I did it myself. When I made the decision to study abroad, I had been dating my ex, Peter, for a few years. I, too, had made the decision to embark on a long distance relationship. Looking back, I lost out on so many experiences abroad and also had more severe homesickness because I had a strong emotional anchor (aka Peter) that held me back. If you are going to study abroad for a semester or more, dump him (or her) before going abroad for the following reasons:

1) It’s not going to last: I know that sounds mean but it’s most likely true. The chances of you marrying or becoming the life partner of your 20 year old college sweetie are slim to none. This is completely normal. Over the course of the next few years you will grow and change the qualities that you seek in a mate as you become independent and start to carve out your life. Five to ten months is a long time to not see anyone and when the only thing holding you together is love (or lust) that’s not much to keep a relationship going.

2) Infidelity can be an issue (on either side): When you are away from that special someone for a long time, you will start to miss them and they, you. The missing of that special someone can become a longing for intimacy which may be fulfilled with another person aka cheating. The transition to studying abroad is hard enough without trying to maintain a long distance romance. I found in my study abroad experience that having a boyfriend back home emotionally restricted my involvement in the experience. This romantic connection kept me tied to the phone and email as well as to him instead of freeing up my mind with new experiences and people abroad. I was very committed to maintaining our relationship. When I couldn’t get in contact with Peter and when he expressed physical frustrations, I suspected the worse- and I was right. He was unfaithful; I’m just not sure how long. On your side, you will meet new people in your program and the activities you do (don’t be a hermit like I was- get out and go somewhere!). There is a very good chance that you might charm and be charmed by a native. The natural course of action would be for a relationship of sorts to ensue. If you are still attached, you could find yourself deep in temptation to cheat (and yes it counts).

3) It’s not time or cost effective. Communicating to that special someone back home via text or phone call is not cheap. Even with an international plan upgrade on your American cell phone, there are still additional service fees for every time you use data / send a text while abroad. If you are trying to message your sweetie a few times a day, this can add up quick. But money aside, staying in contact with a love interest in your home country is not time effective. Having to coordinate your schedule with his (and then getting disappointed when he doesn’t make your rendez-vous time) will hinder you from taking on spur of the moment excursions or experiences. And the same is true in reverse. As you spend your time abroad, your sweetie is still in college with his/her buddies. Spontaneous outings and other life events will come up and it’s not fair that either of you should have to miss out just to maintain a relationship that is most likely going to end anyway.

Don’t go abroad with a love anchor. It is not worth hindering this experience for something that is not meant to last. Studying abroad can be tough enough without the added pressure of doubt and frustration from not being able to connect with your sweetie at your scheduled time or have regular disagreements heightened by the gravity of the situation. Open the door to studying abroad by freeing your heart before you go abroad.


Living in France: Part 1 – The Arrival

From the time that I was 5 or 6 years old, I wanted to live in France and learn French. During my last year of college, I was seriously trying to figure out how I could do that without having to take out a loan, when both my French and Russian teacher gave me an idea- to be a nanny. As a student just graduating, I was looking at programs costing thousands of dollars out of pocket because I missed the chance to study abroad while in school, but if I found a job as a nanny, I would not only not have any expenses, but would get paid to live in France!

Fast forward to the summer following graduation in 2012, when I was still finishing up a couple summer courses, and doing my typical procrastination style of planning by figuring out a way to get to France in August when it was already late June. Long story short, I got matched up with a family and got the paperwork done in record time; I was scared I wouldn’t have my visa ready by the date of my flight, but I got it 2 or 3 days before! (I really don’t know how procrastination keeps working out for me. Actually, I do. And I thank God for his grace.) And at no point during that process did I truly worry about my actual French-speaking abilities, even though I needed it for my job, because I had eight years of French behind me in school. That’s enough to jump into a French-speaking job in a country where I know absolutely no one, right?

Now in the story, I’m on the series of two planes getting me from Fort Worth, TX to Geneva, Switzerland (the family lived in a small town a 30 minute drive from the west side of Geneva, in France), and by some luck, I have a friend predestined for me. My “family” had friends down the street who were also expecting their new nanny on the exact same day, and as she was coming from Arizona, there was a high probability that we shared the same flight. We finally found each other while waiting in line for customs, and our luck of being neighbors got the two of us through some really muddy waters together during the next 11 months.

Right out of the gate, I met the mother and “my” two kids, who of course were too shy to even say hello. There was a 5 year-old girl and a 3 year-old boy (guess which one I quickly realized I would never learn how to deal with). Then we drove to my new home, right behind my new friend and her new “family.” The drive was a wonderland haze; all green grass, cozy cows, and quaint shops set in a valley hugged by the Alps and the Jura Mountains. I would live right at the base of the Jura. The first evening (having finally met the father) went by in an awkward, overwhelming rush, of course, and the next day I would be gently plunged into my new job. A job, which we “fille au pair”s (there’s actually a difference in an au pair and a nanny, but that’s not important right now) would soon find out was not in the least bit glamorous, no matter where we were living. Luckily, there was a maid/part-time nanny my mother’s age who was there to help me get settled in. But the bad news was… she didn’t speak a word of English. Neither did the children. Only the parents spoke my mother tongue. This, my friends, is how I really learned French.

(all photos courtesy of Chelsea)

Chelsea Fairless

Chelsea is a home-bred Texan currently living in Geneva, Switzerland and studying French at the University of Geneva, while living and working with a family as a part-time nanny. She has been living in the Geneva area since August 2012. You can follow more of her story on her blog http://parolepassport.blogspot.com/ and other social media sites.