Culture · France · Things that happen in French class

#30 My first 3 weeks at a French university

I started my Master’s course 3 weeks ago here in Grenoble. The first two weeks were pretty intense because 1. I’ve basically been bumming for the past three months with no serious commitments and 2. Apparently in France, they like to make the first weeks of uni relatively busy to prevent students from slacking.

Also I started with a weird system, the first two weeks were fully assigned to Graphisme (or graphics / drawing) and I handed in my dossier (a folder with about 8 types of drawing assignments) at the end of the 2 weeks. After that, I was done with this subject and didn’t have to come back to Graphisme again. It’s a bit strange to me because in Waseda, we had 1.5 hours or 3 hours of class every week for each subject from the start till the end of that semester, which I thought was the norm for most universities, but I guess not.

THE CLASSMATES:

  • French girls are all skinny. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so I don’t wanna say they are all pretty objectively but to me holy shit most of them were all so above average. Lol check out my PC-ness. And yeah, no comment about the guys because we’re, I wanna say, 75% girls? And obachans like me no longer check out guys.
  • Speaking of the male:female ratio, many of my professors are women, too so that’s pretty refreshing to see. ALTHOUGH, all of them are white (and my class of 48 people are 80% white anyway). Well, when in Rome, Grenoble.
  • The same girl power is evident in the ratio of smokers. I wanna say at least 20% of the students smoke here. It’s their prerogative I guess, but sometimes it’s annoying to have to walk past a group of smokers just to get into my school building.

THE TEACHERS:

  • “Teachers” dress really casually. My photoshop professor was in shorts and a see through top, and another male professor was in a polo, shorts, and sneakers. Reminds me of my time teaching English in a Japanese primary school when I wore a slightly see through top with a camisole inside and comparatively short skirt and the headmaster told me to dress more decently in case I made the 11-12 year old kids “excited” -.- Apparently girls in high school in Japan MUST wear camisoles in case their bra straps / hooks are visible and “distracts” the male students. EYE ROLL

THE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES:

  • French classmates at AUTOCAD class were wondering why the decimal point on the software uses a PERIOD ( . ) instead of a comma ( , ) because they don’t realise it’s a universal thing. I.e. in France they write 99.9 as 99,9. And then I stumbled upon the list of countries using decimal commas instead of decimal points and I got a slap in my face because apparently more countries in the world use the decimal comma. But with China, India, and the USA on our side I can confidently say there’s more PEOPLE in the world who are more used to the decimal point.
  • Naked people in my professor’s slides. Naked people in the magazines we had to use to do our collage assignment. It’s not exactly a SUPER culture shock for me like すごい!!! (sugoi!!! or OMG awesome!!! ) but more like やっぱり (yappari, or “as expected, the French really do live up to their stereotypes”). Digression: This reminds me of my trip to Musee d’Orsay in Paris where I saw an explosive X-rated painting. It’s a realist painting by Gustave Courbet and totally NSFW so I’ve saved it for the very very bottom of this blog post. Check it out only when you’re sure no one can see your phone screen. After looking at the painting from up close and cheekily snapping a picture at the museum, I had to leave because I was joined by a Japanese old man who stood next to me and it quickly made me nervous.
  • It’s so weird to do the bise, or cheek-kisses every morning every day when you see friends for the first time. And it’s even weirder to do it with my ASIAN FRIENDS here. LIKE WTH HOW PHONY ARE WE?? STOP IT. (does it anyway, because I’m weak like that and when in Rome)

THE SUBJECT:

I’m still super super excited about being able to study urban planning again. Since last week we have been having lectures (2 frigging hours) and the workshops / practicals will finally kickoff next week. We’re going up north to Annemasse, a city right next to Geneva on the Swiss border for a field trip to the city hall!!! AND it’s going to be in ENGLISH!!! HALLELUJAH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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L’origine du monde (“The Origin of the World”) by Gustave Courbet, 1866. Apparently when it was first revealed at a salon back in the day, they had to hide it behind a curtain and only sleazy rich men privy people were able to look at the painting.

 

 

Culture · Lifestyle · Malaysia

#26 老夫子 Classic Comic Book Series from H.K.

I wonder how many of you who grew up in Chinese-speaking families in Malaysia know about 老夫子?

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老夫子 (Lao Fu Zhi) or aka Old Master Q is an old comic book series originating from Hong Kong. The comic strips portray the simple and often hilarious daily life of Lao Fu Zhi and his friends or sidekicks in Hong Kong during the 1960s – 1980s. Of course I didn’t know that when I was young but I just remember reading this comic book as I had them lying around my house. They were probably my siblings’ and most of the strips don’t have too many Chinese kanjis so it was easy for me to understand it by just looking at the pictures. It was good for my Chinese practice, too when I did try to decipher the kanjis one by one and guessed the meanings of the harder looking ones.

And I recently came across an old comic book (they are still publishing new ones, apparently! I wonder if they modernised the background and setting?) in the house and laughed out loud at some of them so I thought I’d like to share them with you here.

You can’t tell from the scanned pictures below but they are actually printed in those really thin brown paper that crinkles when they get wet so it has an even more retro feel to it irl.

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I especially like this because the dogs he draws look like my pet dog at home.

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As I understood from this interview with the artist on his official website, Lao Fu Zhi is actually man of traditional values caught in the era of modernisation in HK, hence the old-fashioned looking Chinese clothes (shortened for more hilarity) and hat whereas the rest of the people in the strip are usually in more modern and “trendy” clothes like bellbottoms hehe. When reading his comics, he always struck me as a righteous but rather foolish old man – old because he has almost no hair left on his head although there are some comic strips in which he courts young women with flowers.

So when my friends were reading Archie comics or Marvel (? I’m not sure lol) as a child I was actually more exposed to comics from Asia like this Lao Fu Zhi, Japanese manga, Doraemon, Crayon Shin Chan, etc. I can’t really name any Malay comics off the top of my head, but I do remember reading “It’s a Durian Life” on the newspaper. These were always so funny because they were true.

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Don’t they just make you chuckle? I wonder if they still exist.