france

Don’t give up- your child can become bilingual!

One of the few memories I have of my Grandma, ma belle Grandma, were her attempts of trying to teach me French as a young child. Our family has some decades-ago French roots and she knew “intermediate French” from conversing with her Grandparents. There are many cognitive advantages for a child who is bilingual and by God, my Grandma was going to pass these advantages onto me.

As a child, I resisted. Fought against. Cried. Even just learning how to count in French was a crazy nightmare! Unknown sounds that were impossible to say, nose bleeds from all the nasal sounds (haha, just kidding). You get the drift though. She tried her best but I was just too stubborn to learn. I gave her the satisfaction of learning “un, deux, trois” and “je m’appelle” but anything more than that was a hopeless cause.

She tried, my poor old Grandma, but she just didn’t have the tools to teach me. No books, no entertaining visuals. Nothing. Just her and her tiny jazz hands. But now, in this beautiful world of internet, anyone can learn a language. Book market is flooded with language experts or language lovers as I call them. The main thing for any parent is not to give up. Particularly when you don’t have family members who speak another language. Why don’t you learn a language with your child? Start with new words… the grammar takes a while to learn anyhow, but if you give them the foundation/the vocabulary… it makes it so much easier!

P.S: In case anyone is interested, I wrote a children’s book in English for beginners and little ones who are just mastering their first English words available on Amazon. It is currently in process of being translated to French, German and Croatian. Give it a look and let me know what you think! Thank you for reading my blog, and leave some comments on teaching a second language to a child below 🙂

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When English is too difficult for the French highschool kid(s)

Ah, my dear France! My dear French people! English is really not that hard. I promise!

Today, a lovely article was posted on one of the French website (click here– but it’s in French)… a young high school kid decided to make a petition to disregard a certain question “M” on the BAC d’anglais (I guess kind of like SAT’s) because it was deemed too difficult for his young mind.

OK, OK. I get it. English even gets me sometimes. But, lets look at the questions. Could we possibly understand the two questions (from a French perspective) if we only used some logic? Perhaps language similarities?

Let’s see.

First question: “What are three of his concerns about the situation?” So, I am assuming he didn’t know the word “concern.” Because words like “what, are, three, his, situation, about” are basic English levels. Right? This boy is doing his BAC! He knows basic English! So let’s assume the word “concerns” was too difficult. Or perhaps he connected it to the French verb concerner (French for “relate to”). That’s after his first brain storming. But we all know, a word like concern cannot possibly be English. Come on, way too many nasal sounds! In fact, the word “concern” comes from a mix of French and Latin! From French concerner or late Latin concernere (in medieval Latin ‘be relevant to’), from con- (expressing intensive force) + cernere ‘sift, discern’. So you don’t get a pass on that first question, young boy. The word has French roots!

Second question: “How is Turner coping with the situation?” OK, again. Beginners English levels include the words “how, is, with, the, situation?) (oh, and btw, the word situation is the same in French!!) So the verb that is puzzling the young French boy must be “coping.” To cope( or cope with)- a person dealing with something difficult. Could the verb have any origin in French word or perhaps is, just by normal logic, easily related to French verbs? It turns out, the verb “to cope” comes “from Old French coper, colper”, fromcop, colp.” And as much as I admit, perhaps this is a harder verb to understand, it still comes from your own native language, French boy. So no need to complain, because, as it turns out, you fail in French!

What do you think? Leave a comment below 😀

P.S: My children’s book “Ginger’s missing glasses” (beginners English *wink wink*) is free tomorrow on Amazon!

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Why in Europe sometimes you just have to dump things on the street

When I was younger, I loved yard sales. I was able to sell some of the stuff my Mom never used and made a couple of bucks while at it. Then, a few years later, I gave my bike to somebody who needed it for free. I still remember the message he sent me, thanking me over and over that he takes the bike to work instead of walking there. He was so grateful and I was thrilled I could help. So, every once in a while, I still leave a box on my yard with a sign “Free stuff.” Someone always pickes it up.

Then, I did my study abroad in France. I lived in a furnished apartment I shared with other students. (btw, my book about the French study abroad is available on Amazon ;)) We only got the bare necessities, so we decided to buy a few things to make our lives more, errr, livable I guess.

At the end of the semester we listed them on a board at school and on a Facebook website where people who wanted to give stuff away for free were welcome to list the items. I mean, surely people will be happy to get nice stuff for free? Surely they will come on time and won’t be picky, right?? (btw, it is forbidden to dump stuff on the street)

We only had a few people genuinely interested… everybody else wasted our time, energy and generosity with the following stupidities:

1) “Your place is too far” (far being 15 minutes out of the way)

2) “I only want one of the items listed in the bundle” (yes, let me make a special appointment for each of the people who want to take the damn dying flowers)

3) Didn’t read the ad right (“I thought you were offering X” (when in fact it was Y))

4) Showed up 2-3 hours late (because of course, I have nothing else to do in my life)

5) Say they will show up and they don’t- without telling me (because again- apparently I have nothing else to do in my life than wait for them)

6) Book a time to come and cancel after they realize that it is too expensive to rent a truck (because checking rental prices prior to making arrangements would be nonsensical)

7) “Do you have it in another color?” (please, can I refer you to a furniture store??!)

8) “Could you deliver it to me?” (no comment…..*sigh*)

Ultimately, the amount of effort I had to put in to deal with these people just made it not worth it. It actually killed my joy to try give useful stuff to people. I follow the online blogs/websites and I am still a memeber of some of these groups and complaints like mine show up  all  the  time.

The biggest problem with giving things away for free is that people think you are also giving away for free your time, energy and sometimes even your transport. And it truly kills the joy of trying to do good and trying to help. Ultimately, after offering the items to some charities (which only took selected items), we sneaked out in the middle of the night and dumped the stuff on the street. Eventually it was all picked up but I promised myself I would never give stuff away for free anymore, not while I was there. When people have to pay, they suddenly realize their time and energy are vested in the exchange too.

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Name of the rose (Je suis Charlie)

Cowardly killings that took place yesterday in Paris triggered absolute shock and horror in me. As someone who lived in France for almost a year, it was surreal to see the video which was replayed over and over again on all the news stations.

Amid the initial reaction, I remembered a book I read in my teenage years. The book is called “Name of the rose” by Umberto Eco (and I highly recommend it). The reason why it came to mind was that the people that died in the book were also killed in the name of “comedy.” Laughter. Ridicule. As a teen, I couldn’t fully understand it. How is laughter so powerful? Is it really this powerful?

As I grew up, laughter is the only thing one has left. It is a cure for everything and without it, world is horrific and scary.

William of Baskerville: My venerable brother, there are many books that speak of comedy. Why does this one fill you with such fear?

Jorge de Burgos: Because it’s by Aristotle.

William of Baskerville: [Chasing after Jorge who runs with the Second Book of Poetics by Aristotle intending to destroy it] But what is so alarming about laughter?

Jorge de Burgos: Laughter kills fear, and without fear there can be no faith because without fear of the Devil, there is no more need of God.

William of Baskerville: But you will not eliminate laughter by eliminating that book.

(excerpt from the Name of the Rose)

There will always be cowards, murderers, terrorists who think they can kill the freedom. Freedom of laughter. Freedom of ridicule. Freedom of life. But we have to fight them back. #JesuisCharlie #CharlieHebdo

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Do you really know what Eiffel Tower looks like?

Ah, the one and only view of Eiffel Tower! The most famous of them all, the beautiful latice, the majestic iron hiding among the streets of Paris! Majestic beauty of architecture!

Well, actually this is not the Eiffel Tower. This is the Funkturm in Berlin- quite a deceiving little fella. Here’s the actual Eiffel Tower:

Look at this beauty! The stormy sky highlights its structure, the lean design and one can only say: “Quelle beauté il y a dans cela !”

Well, you thought wrong. That’s a fake replica Gomez Palacio, Durango in Mexico.

And there’s roughly 40 more replicas around the world. But it’s funny how people don’t actually know the real Eiffel. I showed a picture of the Funkturm in Berlin to quite a few people and they all assumed it was the Eiffel tower.

So the symbol of France is actually quite unrecognizable. Here’s another example of a replica:

Lovely, isn’t it? Or is this the real one? It’s hard to tell anymore, isn’t it?

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Goddess a few times a week

I am not a goddess in most aspects of my life, but I sure as hell am when I go shopping. As a consumer in America, I get treated like a goddess. Those who have never been outside the States, don’t know what kind of hell awaits beyond the borders.
In Europe, for example, there’s no such thing as returning stuff without a receipt. There is no such thing as returning stuff and get money back. They normally give you in-store credit and that’s it. There’s no speaking to the manager to complain…the manager doesn’t give a sh*t.

Before you say that isn’t true, I will admit Europe has improved their customer service a lot in recent years. Specially Germany. They have really changed their communication with the customers. But Italy…just try returning something in Italy. Or Spain. Try complaining at a restaurant that you don’t like the food. They will kick you out of the restaurant for the audacity to say anything back to them.

Once my Mother bought something at a fancy Italian clothing store for me. Unfortunately, I was too fat to fit in their biggest size. When we tried to return it, they said (after good half hour of arguing with the ladies that work at the register-guess what, no customer service section there), that we can get in-store credit. I said: “But I am too fat for all your clothing, nothing fits me.” Did they care? No. Did they try to appease me? No.

I guess what I am trying to say is…next time you have to complain to the manager because you don’t like a product…or you want to return it…or perhaps you don’t like the way you were treated…be happy you have the option of doing that. Somewhere else they would tell you “too bad” or wouldn’t even talk to you.

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Closed on Sundays

“Weekends…and particularly Sundays are reserved for family, they’re not like Americans who live to work like there is no tomorrow,” Maelie explained and took another sip of wine.   -Maelie Gagnon 

Jenna Gunner’s first few days in France were one big culture shock. The French don’t have a Walmart, the French don’t work 60 hours a week and stores are closed on Sundays! Who in their right mind would close their store on a Sunday?

As an American, like Jenna, I found myself with nothing to do on a Sunday in France. I couldn’t go shopping. I couldn’t go on a stroll through the mall. If I didn’t buy my groceries the day beforehand, I went the whole Sunday hungry.

After a few weeks there, I realized Sundays should be spent with somebody. Since my family was far away, I spent it with my friends. We went to the park and walked around. We fed the birds even though we were not supposed to. We went to the nearby lake and just gazed at the water. Then, I would invite them over for some pasta…. and we had wine. And we just talked…. Those Sundays, where I didn’t have to get up early to go to work, were on of the best Sundays of my life. That’s what Sundays were meant for. Not work, but one day of peacefulness with your family and friends….America should remember that again. Do you agree?

P.S: Thanks for visiting my site and reading my blog! Like, share, dislike, comment….whichever you please! :))

P.S2: Link to my book on Amazon- you know, since it is Sunday you should read!! :))

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The remarkable overly air-conditioned rides

 “It was a remarkable morning; the lake was quiet, the light blue color of the sky was reflecting on the surface of the water and green trees were peacefully resting nearby.”– Jenna Gunner

Jenna Gunner, in my sort of cliché description, lives for the moments by the lake and finds those moments to be remarkable; the sense of peacefulness, tranquility and connectedness with nature astound her.

I, on the other hand, am a little simpler with “remarkable”. When you lead a crazy-busy schedule, you start finding simple things remarkable. I love my long rides in an overly air-conditioned car (Florida heat is terrible, ya’ll). I love them because they bring me peace and serenity (on those instances I avoid rush hour).

The point is, we all have different ideas on what is remarkable. What is worthy of remark in your life? Comment, like and share!

P.S: Another remarkable thing in my life: my book “Six months of Croissants, Café crèmes, Parties and Love” for FREE on Amazon from August 8th to August 12th! Please check it out and leave a review on Amazon, whether you love it or hate it 🙂 Thank you!

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Nice fat rolls and a kick-ass swimsuit

“I grabbed my swim bag and I locked myself into the bathroom on the first floor to put on a black one-piece bathing suit. I wrapped the biggest towel around me to cover my body. I always wore a one-piece because I didn’t dare to show my belly to anyone, no way in hell.”- Jenna Gunner

It’s hard being Jenna. It’s hard being any other “curvy, fat, shapely, obese, not-skinny, overweight, large, plump…” woman… specially in the summer.

I went to the beach today, and I decided not to be like Jenna. You make the same choice. Wherever you go, don’t feel bad for how you look. Don’t feel bad because you are not a chiseled powerhouse. It’s ok to have fat! I will rock my bikini today….along with my flabby belly. Who’s with me?!!

P.S: Thanks for reading my blog, and don’t be afraid to comment, share or like! 🙂

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French don’t eat snails anymore

“I can’t tell you what to do. If you want to go, you can go. I think you’re a little crazy, and foolish. I don’t know why you want to go there; French are lazy people who can’t finish a war. You’ll have frog legs for breakfast and snails for dinner…”– Albert Gunner

We (Americans) are familiar with many clichés and stereotypes about the French; we think they eat baguettes all the time, women don’t shave their armpits, everyone smokes etc.... In my book, I describe French lifestyle a lot… because I think the existing stereotypes don’t describe modern France so well anymore.

Here are a few facts:

  • Most French people really don’t care about Paris. It’s Paris vs. everyone else. Parisians dislike people from other regions, and other regions dislike the snotty Parisians. In recent years, Paris has become highly commercialized and living there is ridiculously expensive. French don’t consider Eiffel Tower sticking out of every corner is a symbol.
  • Some still hang up their clothing and let it dry in the wind (remember Americans, time before washer-dryers?)…
  • Or the emerging African/Middle-Eastern culture and the influence of their cuisine, lifestyle? I can’t tell you how many times we had a late night kebab (a typical Turkish meal).

The posh days of eating snails are out. French nowadays eat kebabs on the street and watch synchronized American movies. And they love fries and McDonald’s no matter how “unhealthy” it is for you.

Do you, my readers, agree with me? Can you add more “stereotypes” about France from your own personal travels?

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