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PACSed!

We’ve jumped hoops, performed tricks and cartwheels. And then we were PACSed ;)

It has been a stressful few weeks, in no small part due to paperwork concerns. It’s not just about run-of-the-mill effort in gathering the necessary documents, it’s the little things that we did not know we needed and only told within limited time frame, related to me, the foreigner! Documentation to be sent from abroad is bound to take time. How’s that for additional anxiety? In a way, this is our first tough exercise in proving that we are committed and want what we want. (Poor F had to do a lot of running around on my behalf. Luckily, he was on holidays before starting his new job.)

I thought I’d write this little info-post which hopefully would be helpful to someone intending to get PACSed. Particularly for Malaysian-French couple. Mind, this is based on our experience and what we’ve been asked to provide. The information is currently up-to-date but I won’t know when changes would be made in future. Could perhaps keep an eye out on the Service Public page on PACS?

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Un copain, mon copain

This afternoon, during a family meal chez ma belle famille, the conversation turned towards plans for Christmas break and I regretfully informed everyone that I will not be joining them this year for the celebration. Instead I will be Ireland-bound to visit my family and friends. (Oh yes, I can’t wait to see my niece!)

MIL: Mais oui, c’est bien de voir ta famille, tes amis et, Frédéric dit, ton ancien directeur de thèse aussi?
Me: Mon directeur de thèse? Euuuh non, pas tout à fait. On va peut-être se croisser une soirée…
Boy: C’est pas le directeur de thèse, mais le mec qui s’est occupé de ta thèse, comment il s’appelle? On l’a vu cet été.
Me: Ah, Dave? Mais lui, il est mon copain, pas qu’un collègue.
Boy: Ton copain?
Me: Oui. Non! Un copain! Il est un copain!
BIL: Et nous, on vous laisse de se discuter un peu, hahaha…

Hillarity all round and teases coming my way, I was going red from blushing (it may have been the wine too). With an incorrect use of just one word – one! – I have declared to the family that I have a boyfriend elsewhere, oops.

In French, to denote possession, and specifically something/someone that “belongs” to me, the determiners/adjectives are mon for masculine, singular; ma for feminine, singular; and mes for plural.

A friend is given by un ami (masculine) or une amie (feminine), or informally as un copain (masculine) or une copine (feminine). It is therefore not a far leap in logic (at least to this Anglophone brain) to casually claim “my friend” as mon copain or ma copine.

Nope. It appears such connection is flawed.

In fact, these terms are pretty much exclusively reserved to refer to “my boyfriend” or “my girlfriend”. Forget the French beginner’s class lesson where they are, respectively, mon petit ami and ma petite amie. Cute as these may sound, they are obsolete from day-to-day use. As for referring to my friend, if I opt to use the words copain/copine, he/she will forever just be un copain/une copine (“a friend”).

I wonder though what happens when I refer to them in plural, as in “my friends”. Can I use mes copains or would it be misconstrued as having multiple boyfriends? ;)

The (failed) art of giving directions

I was recently catching up on Episode 2 of The France Project (it’s all about stereotypes) and right near the start, an Indian guy interviewed by Katia talked about helpfulness of people in giving directions. Instead of feeling all nice and fuzzy that Paris came across so positively , I actually started to feel guilty.

No, no, I have not been rude and ignoring requests for help.

My guilt lies in that I felt I haven’t always given them the best advices.

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Sooo… I’m a Monsieur?

I have good reason to believe, in most countries of the world, my name gives a clear indication that I’m female, owner (or carrier?) of XX chromosomes. In the past, I’ve used the title “Miss” and “Ms” interchangeably and still there wasn’t an issue of mistaken gender even for someone who hasn’t yet met me in person to confirm that I look like one.

So imagine the great fun I’m having in France where Lilian, sans E à la fin, is famously masculine in nature. This country even proves it by putting forth a famous international export in the form of Lilian Thuram. Here, the pronounciation is not how you’d imagine it’ll be pronounced elsewhere. It’s a guttural-sounding “Lee-Leon” that’s correct given the orthographe.

Liliane is how they like to change things up here for me.

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17 lessons in 17 months

It still surprises me some day that I live in Paris. Not only that, time has also sneaks up on me. It didn’t feel that long ago when I flew into Paris-CDG with an overweight suitcase, battling my way up and down staircases of public transport system and my then new building (how come no one ever offered to help?), before collapsing into a studio apartment with a beautiful view of springtime out the window.

In between then and now, much has changed and many lessons have been sent my way, whether I asked for them or not. Some are glaringly obvious, others not quite so. These are lessons which Paris has taught me in the past 17 months (yes, already!) …

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