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Learning French My Own Way

Ah, finally…a time to blog! :)

I was so busy with work that I literally forgot that I have my very own space in cyberworld. But now that I’ve complied with all my deadlines, I can blog guilt-free!Yey!

Aside from work, there is something that really keeps me busy here…and that is learning French! I have heard so many things about the French people before I came here — the most common being, “The French are such snobs, if you speak English they won’t even look at you!”. But guess what, when I got here, my first impression was that the French are the most courteous people I’ve ever met! My neighbors greet me “bonjour” when I pass by them, the baker always says, “au revoir, bonne journée” when he hands me my pain au chocolat, and yeah, “s’il vous plaît” is in almost every sentence I hear. And about them being snobs, think of a reverse scenario…a French goes to an English-speaking country and starts asking directions in French…see what I mean? :)

I promised myself I’ll learn the French language for two reasons: first, out of respect for the French people because I am living in their country; second, because I want to be a multilingual Executive Assistant — and hopefully work for UNESCO or something like that. :wink:

Learning this language has been quite a journey for me. My solid foundation on the French basics courtesy of Alliance Française de Manille did wonders for me as a beginner. It pays to have a really good teacher in your foundation class, I tell you. I remember that my foundation course emphasized proper pronunciation, and learning how to say French words correctly gave me the motivation and confidence to say simple French sentences without turning red. :)

And then I moved on to studying on my own and bought Rocket French online for $99.  They also have this free 6-day trial, 60-day money back guarantee, and it has, by far, the best reviews online so I didn’t think twice of asking my hubby to buy it for me. Hehe. I never did regret getting it. Rocket French is interactive, has fun games that facilitates learning, and it has audio features that helped me polish my pronunciation. It has worksheets, too, so you can actually test how much you’ve learned after each lesson. It was absolutely the best complement to my foundation courses at Alliance Française de Manille.

And my all-time favorite way to learn French is through Michel Thomas! This man is incredible! Our friend, Marc, gave us the French with Michel Thomas Foundation Course and I literally listen to it over and over again. I fall asleep with Michel Thomas in the background. I love it soooo much because within 30-minutes of listening to it, you will be able to form French sentences in your head quite easily, promise! He teaches you French in baby steps then builds up on it and surprise, surprise, you are able to form really long French sentences — on your own! Oh, I can go on and on about the Michel Thomas Learning Method because it has really helped me learn French faster than I could ever imagine. In fact, on my birthday, I think I will ask for the Michel Thomas Advance Course audio-book. :)

So there…so far, this has been my love affair with the French language. I hope that I would someday speak like a native. Hehehe! Just to have a little fun, I plan not to show up in my favorite bakery here for a couple of weeks…then, go back and surprise the friendly French baker who goes out of his way to accommodate my halting French. I will say 3-5 sentences in straight French, without blinking, and see if he gives me a free pain au chocolat. Bonne chance à moi!

Blueberry Confessions

For a moment, I savored how short life is and threw my no-sugar-diet away. And the culprit? A yummy blueberry pie from the patisserie near my apartment — Paul.

Whenever I go out and pass by Paul patisserie, I am always curious why so many people are going in. Yesterday, being a lazy afternoon, I joined the queue of people and was introduced to Paul’s yummy pastry selections. When I saw this freshly baked blueberry pie, I forgot about my healthy diet and handed my 2.50 euros to the cashier. I spent the afternoon in heaven. :)

Green Star Juicer

Finally, finally, finally…I’m now a proud owner of a Green Star Juicer! Yey!

I have surfed the net for the best juicer to invest on and found out that the best kind is the “grind and press” machine because they do not heat up. Apparently, when you get a centrifugal juicer, it generates heat and kills all the nutrients in your fruits and vegetables — so all your juicing efforts are useless. The most recommended brand by raw food enthusiasts and cancer patients is the Norwalk, the only juicer that is used by the Gerson Institute. I didn’t get to buy this juicer because it goes for a whooping $2000! So, I just bought the next best thing, again, as per raw food enthusiasts and cancer patients — the Green Star Juicer…and I love it!

I never thought that I’d get to drink raw celery, spinach, wheat grass, and broccoli…and not puke. But with my Green Star, I can mix these veggies with strawberries, kiwis, apples, carrots, and other fruits…and the mixture actually tastes great! Not yucky at all. Promise. :)

So maybe you’re wondering why I’m juicing? Well, it’s the yummiest and simplest way to get all the nutrients we need. Most days, I am guilty of not being able to follow the recommended serving of veggies and fruits that we need daily. A veggie lasagna is definitely more tempting than a bowl of fresh veggie salad, but the former is cooked and has less veggies in it; thus, less nutrients. Now that I am juicing, I can finish one tall glass of veggies and fruits without effort…it’s really delicious!

For those who live in Paris, I got mine from the health shop Pousse Pousse in the 9th arrondissement. It’s Green Star’s authorized distributor in France. The owner of that health shop, Madam Lawrence Aboucaya, is very kind and accommodating. I am actually excited to go back to her shop and sample her healthy cuisine. Oh, she sells fresh wheat grass, too! :)

Happy healthy living, everyone!

Miraculous Medal

I have always wanted to join a European religious pilgrimage when I was young. Of course, at that time, I never even thought that I will live in Europe one day. So now that I am here, my first agenda was to visit the nearest pilgrimage site in the city where I live in — and that is the Chapelle Notre Dame De La Medaille Miraculeuse (Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal) at 140 rue du Bac 75007 Paris.

It is in this chapel that Mama Mary appeared three times to a novice,Catherine Laboure, in the year 1830. Perhaps, the most significant outcome of those apparitions was the request of Mama Mary to make and distribute the Miraculous Medal, the design of which was shown by Mary herself to Catherine. This happened in November 27, 1830 at 5:30pm during Catherine’s meditation, and the official transcript given by Catherine is as follows:

Catherine first saw a picture of the Blessed Virgin, standing on a half-globe holding in her hands a small golden globe, with her feet crushing a serpent. From the open hands of the Blessed Virgin, beautiful rays of light where shining and at that same moment Catherine heard a voice saying:“These rays are symbols of graces that Mary obtains for people.” Then an oval formed around the apparition and Catherine saw emblazoned in a semi-circle this invocation, until then unknown: “ O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to you”, written in gold letters. Then the picture turned and St. Catherine saw on the reverse side: the letter M surmounted with a little cross and below it the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Catherine then heard these words: “Have a medal made on this model. Those who will wear it with confidence will receive great graces.” (Source: Official Website of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal)

We spent an hour touring this beautiful chapel and we lined up along with other tourists to buy Miraculous Medals for ourselves. I wanted so much to go near the altar and have a good luck at the incorrupt body of St. Catherine, but they were having a special ceremony for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I was unable to go near. I guess I will just have to come back to take a look at St. Catherine and pray at the foot of altar where Mama Mary said these words:

“Come to the foot of the altar, it is there that graces will be showered on all those who ask with confidence and fervor”.

For those who wish to send their prayer intentions to the sisters of this chapel, you may do so here. I pray that all your prayers will be answered by God in one way or another. :)

Easter Bunny Overdose

This is a little bit late, I know…but I just can’t bring myself to write about Easter Bunnies when I overdosed on them last weekend.

I was innocently taking my walk on my usual route and I realized that the chocolatiers of Paris all came up with their own versions of Easter Bunnies. They were all provocatively displayed in their stores and I must have seen a thousand chocolate bunnies staring at me on my way to the grocery. To be honest, I almost went inside one shop which sells Lindt Easter Bunnies. But my, I will be the tallest one in there! Out of delicadeza, I opted not to go inside and just leave the chocolates to the kids. Sigh. It sucks to be an adult.

But as I am writing this…I now wish I did get myself one of those Lindt Easter Bunny chocolates! But at least I can keep this picture / advertisement as a testimony of how life sucks when you get past 13…