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French students

Everybody in France can go on strike, even people who do not (yet) have a job ? students included. Over the last few weeks, many universities closed down because they were blocked by students, protesting against reforms in the education system. The French government is taking initiatives to allow companies to invest in universities, which students see as a threat to the independence of higher education. They are scared that tuition fees will go up from hardly anything today towards English or even American standards in the future.

Posted by Bruno

Language paradise

Walking in the streets of Luxembourg will expose visitors to a wealth of languages, making Luxembourg almost opposite to Spain and France. Most Luxembourgers are fluent in at least Luxembourgish, German and French. They speak English simply because it is useful and often another language for pleasure. Outsiders may think that Luxembourgers have a talent for learning languages, but they themselves have different ideas about that.

Posted by Bruno

While Saudad describes the innate tendency for a Portuguese to feel nostalgic, a French person could not be properly French without being philosophical about life, politics and art. Some inform themselves properly to have at least a basic insight in what they are talking about, others don`t and you can hardly tell the difference from the way they talk about whatever they talk about. I am trying to find out how people inform themselves about what happens in society: which TV programs and newspapers and websites they read to keep up with the news ? and which ones simply serve to keep them amused.

Posted by Bruno

The French Alsace province has all ingredients to position itself at the centre of the European Union. Nevertheless, the Alsacians have created a small island in the north-east of France, with only Strasbourg serving as an accessible exception. Strasbourg is the part time basis of the European parliament, which twice every month picks up all its paper mess to move from Brussels to the Alsacian capital and back again. This traveling circus was installed to satisfy French demands to have EU institutions on their territory, even while many French don`t even consider the Alsace region to be part of France.

Posted by Bruno

I arrived in both the country and city of Luxembourg today and will use the following days to get a grasp of what Luxembourg is about. First of all, it`s a European crossroad, a place of compromises, diplomacy and silent capitalism. Below article is a quick introduction to the second-smallest, first richest, least populated and probably most European country of the EU:

Posted by Bruno

77,78,91,92,93,94,95. They may be random numbers to someone who is not from France, but a French person will quickly associate them with the departments directly surrounding Paris: the `banlieue`. Some parts of the banlieue provide their inhabitants with reasonably quiet life at affordable prices. Other parts regularly appear on national and international news for their frequent outbreaks of violence, with Villiers-le-Bel as a recent example. The issues in the banlieue may be extreme at times, they do reveal problems that haunt all of France under the surface: unemployment, segregation, racism and poverty.

Posted by Bruno

Language labyrinth

The French love for art goes well beyond paintings and sculptures alone. It applies in equal proportion to gastronomy and language. The ability to engage in vivid conversations, no matter how trivial the subject, is not just a skill but a vital part of French life. Count yourself lost without it. The French furthermore take pride in creating complicated structures, coded expressions and heaps of abbreviations. Welcome into the labyrinth of the French language.

Posted by Bruno

Flashy pharmacies

Being ill is never pleasant but the French can take pride in being quite well off. France`s health care system covers a wide range of treatments and is accessible to anybody living and working in France. Like many other industries in France, health care is managed under strict supervision of the state but they seem to be doing an OK job. Life expectancy is very high, for French women even the second highest in the world.

Posted by Bruno

Paris, the city of love.. You for sure see more people kissing and embracing each other than in a random street of Estonia. But it`s not all gold that blinks. Living in Paris is not something everybody is made for. Life is speedy and expensive, the streets are full and people are not always friendly to one another. Pale faces would make visitors believe that Parisians have grey blood and small weights in their face to expose their wrinkles to the maximum gravitation possible. They can even be recognised by their walking speed! Metro-boulot-dodo (Metro-work-sleep) quite well sums up what living in Paris mainly consists of.

Posted by Bruno

Voyage, voyage

The Spanish surprised me by their modest appetite for traveling internationally. On average, they enjoyed staying in their own country, and anybody having seen more than three different countries is considered truly international-minded. The French are different. Their country is directly connected to no less than nine countries, and they take pride in jumping across borders to measure the degree of civilisation on the other side.

Posted by Bruno