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Chronicles of msadele

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Life in Paris

Au revoir Paris, j’taime très fort

warning, long post ahead .. move on if you’re looking for a quick read, this girls got something to say.  

The Baretti’s are on the move, again.

After 2 years and 8 months, we are hanging up our doudoune and heading for the golden, shimmering sands of Dubai.  

Surprisingly, I’m a train wreck.

In a mere few days we say goodbye to the city we started raising our boy in. Where he had his first haircut, crashed rode his first tricycle, scooter and bike.  Had his first tantrum, took his first tumble in the playground, stood up for himself in the sand pit, and started to school. There’ll be no more after school trips to the park or cheeky patisserie pit stops at the local boulangerie for goûter.

It pains me knowing I won’t be able to drive past somewhere that triggers a memory and takes me back to one of those pivotal moments in our boys early childhood. I feel a tremendous sadness, that sinking feeling, a mix of guilt and sorrow in knowing our boy won’t grow up with the little friends he’s made, or even remember who they are/were.

All the guilt.  They say it’s an useless emotion. What they don’t say is how strong that prickly pear is and how incredibly vulnerable it can make you feel.

Expat life is not for everyone. It’s not glamorous, it’s tough, and not for the faint hearted. It takes a certain strength, something you summon up every damn day to overcome what you miss. In even the smallest of ways, you miss something about home on a daily basis. You miss the familiar. Not just family and friends but the way of life you were conditioned to, where and how you were raised.

You compare everything you see and how your “new” life is to what you already know and it’s flippin DANGEROUS to ones psyche.

After 8 years abroad I’ve learned to take the good with the bad, face the cultural challenges head on, get up every day and tell yourself “I’ve got this”. It’s about unconditioning yourself and making the new home wherever you go.

It’s about learning to drown out the guilt, noise of not being at home where you belong” (a common phrase heard by families of expat families) and get on with daily life, dreams, ambitions for you and the family you are creating.

Living in the City of Light has been both the most difficult, yet rewarding challenge yet. Beijing was tough, but Paris is the clear winner in the “tough” stakes. Initially language was the biggest hindrance with integration, however, over the last 6 months I’ve felt more confident in my speech, and slowly came out of my shell. God, in no way am I fluent (hopefully one day!) but I’m not frightened of making a fool of myself anymore and can manage a light conversation on my best days.

I’ll miss the people at work, who made my days so much fun (and bearable!) you know who you are, who supported my craziness and constant ramblings of all things Australian. No one will forget the crows, the “courage” of our Aussie rules or my Aussie BBQ Classics Spotify playlist ! I’ll miss the guy who smiles and calls me “Aussie” everyday cos it’s the only thing he can say in English. I’ll miss people asking me to repeat my “Nom” or where I work because I can’t pronounce the french “R” properly. I’ll miss those who speak to me in English because they want to practice “ze anglais”.

I’ll miss the Seine at night in all its glory, the beauty in the way the lights reflects off the water. Centuries of buildings, standing the test of time, and beating the harsh Parisienne weather extremities.  Standing by the beautiful clocks in my favourite, Musee D’orsay, staring over Paris, admiring the Sacre Coeur, watching the tourists float by on the Bateaux Mouches, mouths agape in awe.  An awe that is never lost, but seems to enhance over time.  Paris, you really are a true beauty, even on the coldest, wettest, windiest of days, you can take a persons breath away.

Then you step on a dog turd, and all the loveliness dissipates in an instant.

I will not miss these dirty folk who somehow think it’s OK to leave their dogs doings in the path of others, specifically my son and his bike.  Have you ever tried getting soft poo out from in between tyre tread? In your bath. Yes, the one you clean yourself in, because no apartment has a laundry! Unless of course your “riches”, living in the 16e in your cosy 1000 sqm “apartment”.  

Selfish, selfish <expletiveright here>.

I will not miss counting or evaluating the cost of something, #fml that’s hard yakka. Still got me at quatre-vinghts deuze. Merde!

I will not miss the constant grey skies or smelly metro with no AC in the scorching summer heat.  God no.  That is hell on earth.

But geeze, I’ll miss the fromage and pain tradition, pas trops cuir stp.  I’ll miss the swiftness of Amazon Prime next day delivery, because Europe.

Onwards we go.  New dreams to make, new places to see, new people to meet, new adventures to be had and a new “home” to create.  Shop & Ship here I come.

I feel like I be left pieces of me in the places I’ve lived and visited, and as cheesy as this sounds, the biggest piece of me is in Australia, the only true place I could ever call home. I’ll be seeing you real soon.

Until next time, au revoir Paris, j’taime très très fort.


Photo credit: Clock Painting – Musee Dorsay Clock Window by Joan Ryan.

Expat life comments are my own views and in no way replicate or dictate other expat opinions.

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Integration Layers and Stuff.

My first meeting at Renault Le Plessir Robinson site.

Love the motorbikes and pushy out the front. Everyday commuting, the irony.

Heading in to learn about one of our platforms, integration layer, and stuff.

Wish me luck.

Beauty is Only Skin Deep

When you remove a good few layers of skin from your toe, this is what your footwear is reduced to.  

Endless toes. Too many toes for work life.

Putting on a sandal was excruciating.  The pain was insufferable, even for me. 

Back to work like it’s still the long weekend.

Adele 0, Door 1.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Week one down.

I’m hurting though. 

Throw three years out of work together with an intense week of induction in French – suffering. The good kind.

So here’s a quick and condensed version of my first week back in the force:

  • First day, arrived home and passed out on the couch by 8:30pm.   
  • PC is fossilised. Yes, I said PC. Haven’t used Windows for 10 years. It’s a brick. I can make and drink a coffee in the time it needs to start up. 
  • Received my HP dinosaur on day 3. I’m told that’s pretty good in comparison to some others. Not complaining.
  • Contacted IT help desk. Received a response 2 days later. 
  • No webmail. 
  • VPN requires a dongle.
  • INTERNET EXPLORER …..
  • WHERE AM I?????
  • Chrome allowed but no google apps. 
  • No cloud.
  • Had many “where am I” moments.
  • French everything. Induction, keyboard (I’m sorry but QWERTY, ok), applications, documentation, training. So much French. Drowning. Assimilating. 
  • Heinous blisters on feet from several pairs of “comfortable” shoes. They looked comfy when I bought them but MURDERERS.
  • Got my first Program. Some newbies have been waiting weeks – feeling chuffed. 
  • Office is LIT. Beautiful. Great location. 4 tram stops from home. Winning! 
  • Had an oral French test and failed. Teacher suggested 2 weeks intensive training. I should be ashamed but I’m not. Actually content in knowing I can only get better.
  • Rooftop will be completed next week. Priceless. 


My current view. Not too shabby.

For every “where am I” moment there are a bahzillion “I’m so freaking lucky” moments so pretty much all the things I mentioned above are  trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Looking forward to week two.

Bon week-end a tous ! 

Photo credit: giphy. Arrested Development, my fav. 

Patience Is a Virtue but Perserverance Is Key

Two years.

That’s how long it’s taken me to find a job here in Paris.  

Or rather, that’s how long it’s taken for a French company (largely international ones!) to break out of the norm and hire someone who is coming back from a “career break” and isn’t “courant”. 

They’re scared. Narrow minded. Afraid of change. They’re learning.

Two years to the very day, of living in Paris I signed. 

Two years.

Last night I celebrated with the recruitment team who have stood by me and never lost faith in me. I’m beyond grateful to Laurent Aumage and the team at Anson McCade, UK, who kept putting me forward and pushing me (and decision makers) to finally succeed.

Two years.

I hope my story can lesson the emotional burden for all the “career break” mums out there who are struggling to get back to work. Struggling intrinsically, the most difficult struggle of all. 

At your darkest times, when you feel like all hope is lost and your confidence is diminished to a tiny fleck of that brilliant woman you used to be – that is the time you dig your deepest. You dig so deep it hurts, it’s painful. Muscle up the courage to continue, so that black hole cannot, will not swallow you. 

Never stop your search.

Never give up on yourself. There’s too many other people out there to do that for you. 

Believe.  

Yes it’s hard, yes you fall off the search wagon, yes you will doubt everything you’ve ever done or achieved. You may even feel like a fraud. 

You’re not. You’re a warrior with nerves of steal and vivaciousness of fire. 

When your just about to the throw in the towel, and your burning the last straw, you’ll get a call and Just.Like.That. your are hired.

There will be someone out there who sees your brilliance, sees your relevance and isn’t afraid of your “gap”. For every 10 narrow sighted people, you will find that 1 person who says “Yes, we want you”! And you will start to breathe again.

However long it takes you, and in whatever emotional state you find yourself in (too many in my experience) try to keep this little cliche in the back of your mind and pop-it out whenever you start to feel low, “patience really is a virtue” BUT perserverance is what makes the difference. Whatever happens. Never give up!

Until that job comes through, keep your focus, find your fulfilment in your daily life, and lastly enjoy your child/children because in your near future, you’ll be back at work and remembering how lucky you were to have that time with your babies. 

I start Monday, 12 June with Renault Digital.

It took two years but damn those two little words are going to stand out on my CV.

Photo credit: giphy. Merryl, you own it girl.

p.s. my last post was July 2016. Honestly, I felt I had nothing of importance to say. Keeping afloat of everyday life and the job search has taken every bit of my energy.  Moving forward I’m confident there will be an abundance of material to keep my blogging alive. 

What Does a Career Break Really Cost You?

What if I fall quote
One of my favourite quotes by Erin Hanson. Wise lady that Erin.
Dedicated to the women of the world facing career challenges after bringing a human into the world. I feel you.

You all need to be celebrated.  We all need to be celebrated. 

Becoming a mother is no mean feat.  It is one of, if not, the most exhausting, physically and mentally demanding ‘jobs’ a person can do.  And, it’s largely unpaid.  Suppose for a minute we were to get paid … this clever little calculator  summarises what the cumulative job of M U M is worth.

Yet, irrespective of our many talents, having one of the greatest responsibilities on earth and taking time to fulfill that responsibility, deems you unemployable in the real money making world.  Unless you’re self employed, which then brings about its own sets of issues.

At least this is what rings true for me.

How on earth did I go from a senior level manager to being rejected (or not even considered) for countless roles at entry, mid and senior levels?

I’ve applied for more positions than I can count in the last 8 months.  I’ve had 3 companies of interest.  3 interviews.  Zero offers.

Living in a foreign country with a language barrier obviously leaves me at a disadvantage. Feedback from two interviews (and my recruiter) indicates this is the major factor, particularly in my usual line of work which requires significant client interaction.

I understand to a degree.

What I fail to comprehend is the lack of interest for the English speaking positions I’ve applied for, all directly in line with my skills and expertise.  Paris is a hub of global business activity, engaging with wider Europe, APAC and Americas.  Considering English is the universal business language, surely someone out there needs a lass that can speak English fluently?!

Recently I received an invitation to interview via email that clearly indicated my profile and expertise were a “good match” for the Senior Project Manager eCommerce position.  A position I could easily fulfill and perform well in.  I had a phone interview, which seemed to flow nicely and then I waited for feedback.  48hrs later I got it.

I regret to inform you that we have decided not to progress further with your application and move forward with candidates whose experience is a closer fit to our search.

I’m at a loss here.  One minute my experience is a good match and the next my experience is off point.

Now, I’m not a narcissist, so I’ve clearly gone wrong somewhere along the line.  I want to know where I’m falling over.  Self improvement 101.

So I write a “Thank You email” to the once lovely HR lady who is now avoiding me and politely asked her to provide some feedback for my own personal development, thanked her for the opportunity and wished them the best – as you do.  Personal branding is everything.

So, I wait for a response filled with anxiety.  I’m still waiting.  I’ll be waiting.  All I have left is to churn every little negative thought over in mind.

Did I talk off topic, talk too much, say too little, summarise incorrectly, how was my elevator pitch, is my experience not solid enough, am I over my head, OMG I’m a F R A U D, how’s my profile photo, are my social accounts up to date, are they not relevant enough, too personal, s!*t did they read my blog ?! … WHAT. DID. I. DO. WRONG? 

Then I remember the deafening silence whilst willingly explaining my career gap.  Yes, I made a decision to start a family, and at a later age than most, thinking my career was established and secure.  Or at least I thought.

I can hear their little brains ticking as I answer the questions; “she has children, she isn’t committed, she can’t travel, she can’t work 100 hours a week, work is not her first priority” HEX, HEX, HEX. 

These people do not know me.  They have no idea on the caliber of person they are turning away.  I have worked my way up the food chain and built a career.  It wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter.  I earned it.

So now I ask myself, what has this “career break” really cost me? Let’s break it down:

  • loss of income
  • lost income growth
  • career advancement
  • retirement benefits
  • career confidence
  • loss of identity
  • imposter/fraud syndrome
  • anxiety

There is something very wrong with this story.

A 2014 survey from London Business School deemed “70% of women fear taking a career break”.  How is this OK?  Not only are women faced with a decision on wanting children (or not), they also need to consider the impact to their careers.  What kind of system allows this to happen?

in 2016 women should not be trying to fit into the economy when we could be shaping it !

I have 5 different versions for my CV, all targeted at various levels and positions.  I’m tailoring the darn thing to almost every position I apply for – it is work, tedious work.  Maybe I need to start coding my job applications like Nina for AirBnB – which is uh-mazing btw, GO Nina!

Thankfully I have still retained my humour through all of this.

Women all over the globe are facing this same issue.  We’re all being made to feel like second rate citizens because we decided to contribute to global population growth and boost the economy for years to come.

It is not good enough and I will not stand for it.  Why are women targeted for something that was anatomically given to them and therefore, a right of passage to utilise.  We are being penalised for having used our reproductive organs. Simple as that.

Recently I followed a startup called Apres.  These ladies have provided a platform for women to learn and guide us back into the job hunt.  It’s similar to LinkedIn but targeted specially at women seeking to return to work after their “career break”.  I’m following closely and so far appreciate their service offering.  They understand the psychology behind the “career break” and provide insightful information that can help challenge the negative cognitive thought process that comes with being a mum – who once upon a time, used to be ‘Somebody’ other than ‘Mum’.

It pains me to tears to write “career break”.  I didn’t chose a break from my career.  I chose to give life and nurture that life and help to make it the best life it can be.  Isn’t that a job in itself?  However ‘career break’ seems to be the PC term for our baby making phenomena.

This “career break” was handed to me on a platter of “suck it up love”. It is single handedly the largest and longest emotional roller coaster of life. There is no job task on this planet (besides world peace) that can be harder than being a mother or carer (if you want to get all PC on me). I raise anyone to challenge me on that – with of course, an actual job.

Not a day goes by that I regret my choice. My son teaches me how to be a better human every single day. I anticipated some career fall out, however, I not at this magnitude. I am forever the optimist and still believe getting back into the workforce can happen. For me it’s a question of language and geography, on top of the career gap issue.  I’ve always been up for a challenge.

My advice to all the want-to-be mothers out there. Before you make a decision to go on a “career break” – plan wisely, strategise and set yourself up for some fallout. For some that may be returning to work sooner, for others that may be a financial contingency for your planned break. Engage with networks like Apres so you can be fully aware of expectation. If you take your career seriously, you owe it to yourself to be prepared.

As for me, I don’t go down without a fight. I prefer to F L Y.


p.s. Nina did get the job with AirBnB #CVGoals

p.s.s. With reference to the recent job rejection. No doubt there could be a million other reasons that I wasn’t successful in my interview. I would love to know. However, it is fair to determine the career gap is a significant contributing factor.

p.s.s.s Ladies, I’d love to hear your ‘return to work’ stories and any other feedback you may have on our plight. Leave me a comment and we’ll chat xo

Image credit: theglobewanderers.com.

So Close Yet So Far

real life struggles when learning French
Image courtesy of Expatriates Paris – Thank you for summarising my current language skills perfectly!

A fair example of where I’m at thus far with my French but hey, I’m ecstatic to even be able to form a few words. 

Adult learning difficulties are R E A L !

My toddler is more advanced in French than I am and he’s 2. Yes, 2. 

No doubt he’ll be teaching me soon. Who am I kidding, he teaches me already with all the French books I’m forced to read at bedtime (courtesy of toddlers father who says I need to read in French for practice). Toddler has laughed at me whilst reading T’Choupi. Apparently it’s jaw breakingly funny when mummy reads in “Le Français” 😳. Truth be told I’m learning a bucketload of Frenchy stuff via toddler. It’s awesome. 

As I watch our toddler venture into the world of talking, rather than nodding, grunting and pointing, I’m simply astonished at how quickly he’s picking up both languages. According to science, and who argues with science, 2 year olds can learn between 5-10 new words a day ! 

Now apply that to a bilingual child and you’ve got a walking word machine. A spelling bee champion in the making. However, these little sponges need a little help from the parentals in this department. It’s the parents/carers responsibility to expose toddler to new words. So parentals must have new words ready to go everyday. Today mine were:

  • “Please don’t put your food in your water”
  • “Get the straw out of your nose”
  • “Put your jocks back on”
  • “Let’s go do pipi in the potty before your bath”
  • “Oh no, mummy said no pipi’s in the bath !”

All jokes aside, the kid is killing it in the language department and I’m hiding behind him picking up his vocabulary and asking husband “what did you say to him?” Hey, I’ll take a language lesson anywhere I can !

If you’ve got a bilingual babe or are just interested in how they develop, here’s a few tips on what to expect for your bilingual child’s language development.

I just hope our little man doesn’t back out a “putain!” any time soon. 

Oh the S H A M E.

Customer Service Goes Beyond The Transaction

Good customer service doesn’t stop at the transaction. It goes way beyond .. in fact, it’s a continuous dialogue if you are interested in retaining your customer. 

As an avid online shopper I’ve contributed a significant amount of dollars to the sector over the years, having purchased from brand sites and marketplaces across several countries and always looking for the most cost effective solution. I’m generally not an impulse buyer. Yes, I do have some brand loyalty and in that case I can purchase within minutes. However, when I’m looking for a product/service that can be purchased over several medians at different prices, I do my homework. The process goes a little something like this:

  1. Search Google Shopping for the product. Google aggregates some instances of that product which is available for sale online, from both brand stores and marketplaces e.g., directly from Darty or Amazon.
  2. Review  cost comparison, warranty, delivery/shipping and refund terms. 
  3. Review online shop reviews (especially if it’s somewhere I have never bought from before).
  4. Go back and check the Search results from the first and second page as Google Shopping doesn’t capture everything. Very rarely do I go to page 3. The first page of search results can be weighed down by paid or sponsored advertising so a lot of sites are being pushed back to page 2. An entirely different subject but worth the mention.
  5. Walk away from my desktop or phablet and ponder i.e., think of other important items to check up on and search e.g, maybe an upcoming flash sale to take advantage of.
  6. Do the research.
  7. Eventually make a purchase and feel satisfied it was an educated one. No regrets.

So why am I mentioning this?

Because customers put a lot of effort into their shopping process both online and offline and they want to feel they can trust the business they have invested their personal resource in.

And why is it important for businesses to know this?

Because knowing how your customers are reaching you and how they are evaluating their customer experience is pivotal to your acquisition and retention rates and your overall brand position. Businesses need to understand there processes you can put in place to improve the customer experience starting from the point of search through to after sales support. It’s the whole deal. Customer service does not end at the transaction.

You have competition peoples. Just because you send me a cute EDM every day/week, tweet a bit and have a Facebook page, it doesn’t mean I’m going to buy from you repeatedly. In fact, if you are sending me email everyday (SPAM) you are likely in my “delete immediately list”.

On that particular note, find someone to help you understand how digital marketing can really work for your business, and create a social media and content marketing strategy which is relevant to your business. It’s not one size fits all but that is a different post.

How you treat me and how you make me feel makes all the difference.

For those with the ‘smarts’, we understand and care about the customer experience. We know how it correlates to the business’s bottom line. We know it drives revenue and saves cost. We know the value is not just in the sale. The true value is in the customer experience.

One of the most important factors for any business is understanding that customer retention should outweigh customer acquisition since we know there is more profit in retention. That being said, “profit” is not only financial. It’s not always about the dollar. Businesses must start trading with a “human” currency as well.

Customers need to experience all the good “feels”. It’s all about the feels.

If you’re interested in CXM, here’s a few stats hot off the press for 2016 courtesy of Sprinklr (such a good read and hits so many nails on the head – thanks Sprinklr)

Take a few minutes to digest these statistics and then ask yourself – “where does my business stand now, where do I need to be, and how can I improve it”?


Logistics: an example of how a breakdown in process between supplier and courier results in a poor customer experience.

Recently our TV bit the dust, so we did the research and purchased a new unit from the second largest marketplace in France. Largest in terms of unique visitors per month and per day. It’s large, not China stats large, but a hefty visitor presence nonetheless.

  • Order confirmation states the delivery date as 2nd May 2016 between 8am and 2pm. Note it doesn’t say it’s an estimated date, it’s a firm date. We schedule accordingly to ensure we’re home to receive delivery.
    • How does the customer feel – the date sets the customers expectation. With that information comes a sense of trust.
  • On the morning of Thursday 28th April I ran a few errands. I arrived home just before midday and checked the letterbox. I find a delivery slip – “You missed us”. The delivery slip says the package is 12 pounds. Heavy. Can only be the TV.
    • How does the customer feel – Instant disappointment in the validity of the original delivery date. Trust broken.
  • Husband calls the customer service number shown on the delivery slip. It’s automated and costs .18EU a minute.
    • How does the customer feel – Ripped off. The company now wants the customer to pay for the after sales call to follow up on an order that shouldn’t have been delivered yet.
  • The delivery slip doesn’t have any other method of tracking the package and therefore the customer is required to call the number.
    • How does the customer feel –  Extorted. Simple.
  • Husband calls the machine (from his mobile) and waits (Husband is at work and waits considerable time for a human).
    • How does the customer feel – Time is money.
  • Eventually a human arrives and tells him “you weren’t home so we have to reschedule delivery”.
    • How does the customer feel – Thank you for letting me know you were coming earlier, how very courteous and professional of you.
    • Husband “why didn’t you contact me  to advise of early delivery”.
    • Courier “because we don’t have your phone number”.
    • Husband “Why don’t you have our phone number?” 
    • Courier: “Because <insert marketplace name> does not provide us with those details”. 

 

I’m sorry, not good enough.

No doubt many of you have experienced this same situation. Frankly, it’s inexcusable with the level of tech available to us. Information sharing is key.

They had one thing to do, just one. Call.

How many people out there will never order from this company again after this experience? A bucketload. So many thoughts run through my mind:

  • why, why, why is it so hard to make a call? We all have a phone, the stats say so.
  • where was the breakdown? Marketplace > original supplier > courier company?
  • how are their backend systems set up ERP > Warehouse distribution > Courier?
  • did no human being have the common sense to check the customer was home?
  • why don’t they care?
  • so many things can be done to prevent these situations occurring.

I must point out this is not a once off occurrence nor is it specific to this particular marketplace. It happens all the time across bricks and mortar stores, to brand sites, to marketplaces. There is no discrimination when it comes to poor customer service. Another example:

  • On a separate occasion I answered the intercom to a delivery guy and gave him our level details (we live in an apartment building). At the same time, he was on the phone and I heard him tell someone we weren’t home to accept the delivery. I could see him through the camera and he responded to me when I spoke! He left a delivery note in my letterbox instead, which forced me to go to the post office to pick up the package. How very convenient. Poetic since the point of online shopping is to increase convenience.
  • Recently a friend of mine ‘received’ a package from a courier that simply threw it on her driveway, jumped in the car and drove off. Seriously?! Are we that short in cash to put extra drivers on the road to service clients properly, or are these drivers just incapable of fulfilling their duties?

Accountability

Maybe we need to start putting KPI’s in place for courier companies and their drivers to deliver according to the set criteria, e.g., in the letterbox or at the door, not thrown on the driveway. Perhaps we start surveying the delivery drivers – just like we do in Uber. How many Stars and Comment?

We definitely need accountability. We don’t need 10% off our next purchase (but thanks for offering) we need you to step up to the plate and treat us with the respect we deserve, because frankly, that is why your business is still afloat.

On a positive note, our TV was delivered Friday 29th (as they promised). The delivery guy wouldn’t bring the package to the door as he his vehicle was obstructing the traffic in the street. I get that. So I went downstairs and asked him to at least help me get it into the lift.

He did, and he was nice about it. He was friendly and smiley and guess what, it gave me good feels.

 

My Whole Brain Is Crying

img_3072-1
Image credit: Google gifs. Merci beaucoup.

In today’s lesson I accomplished everything and nothing. This is how it went …

2 hour commute to my 2 hour French lesson – way on the other side of Paris. 3 tram stops and 4 metro stations changes later. I’m exhausted before I get there. So many numbers already.

I meet my tutor M in the local bar/cafe and pop a Panadol with my “thé aux fruits rouge”. Really hitting the hard stuff this morning.

We begin. I learn. Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, indefinite, definite and possessive articles all determined by gender (masculine/feminine) and whether they’re flying solo (singular) or at a party (plural).  M says “indefinite article” to me and I nod politely but really my mind goes blank. I’m supposed to remember this. I’d like to know exactly how many people read and go “oh there’s an indefinite article, a noun and a verb and there’s that doing word thingo”. Do you?

Moving on from my English Lit failure …

M taught me how to count. It’s very similar to Italian so it seems like a no brainer for me. Then you hit 60 and sh*t gets real. For example:

  • 60 is written soixante. 
  • 70 is written soixante dix, because 60 + 10 = 70. Dix being 10. OK. Stay with me.
  • 71 is written soixante et onze, because 60 + 11 = 71.  Onze being 11.  Still there?
  • 72 is soixante douze, 60 + 12 = 72. Douze being 12 …. and so on, until you get to the mothers of all the numbers, 80 and 90.
  • 8o is written quatre-vingts, because 4 x 20 = 80. Just let that sink in for a minute.
  • 90 is written quatre-vingt dix, because 4 x 20 = 80 + 10 = 90. Got it? Nailed it right.

Picture this … 

You’re at the checkout with no digital display to show you the total amount due. It’s common in the local stores here, at the butcher and the baker the candlestick maker.

You’re still working out the coin sizes (1 and 2 cent pieces still exist). The assistant tells you in the fastest of French, which sometimes has a Chinese or Vietnamese accent, “douze euros et quatre-vingt quatorze centimes”. 

???????? WTHeck ????????? “My Whole Brain is Crying”

Your mind goes AWOL. You search around in your purse attempting to cover up the fact you have no idea what they just said by looking for change, whilst you’re frantically trying to reiterate the words in your mind to come up with a ’round about number. You cannot work it out so you mumble “je n’ai pas la bonne monnaie” (I don’t have the right change) and hand over a bank note. Defeated.

This has been me on countless occasions. I’ve boycotted stores for this very reason. I prefer to support the local guys so I really need to get better at this change thing.

If you are still trying to work out that number, it’s €12.94. Easy! Ha.

 

 

 

 

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