Switzerland vs. France (Not a Football Match)

Oddly enough, living in France near the Swiss border has more disadvantages than advantages. At first I thought it would be nice to be close to another country that isn’t even in the EU. Geneva’s international airport has served me well over the years, but I’ve got to say that I’ve never actually spent time in Geneva other than to go to the airport or to catch a train to Germany. Don’t get me wrong, I do love Switzerland, but it’s just too expensive and the trains between France and Switzerland aren’t all that convenient.

The main reason I don’t like being close to the border is the higher cost of living. So many people in Annecy and Annemasse commute to Geneva everyday for work and they earn twice as much money as people who are doing the same job in France. Property prices in Haute-Savoie have skyrocketed because of this, though they are still below the average prices in Geneva. Our taxe d’habitation even increased 100€ in one year because the taxes in and around Annecy went up so much. If Annecy is awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics, I hate to think how much more expensive it will become.

Now that we live in Chambéry, prices are slightly better  because we’re further from the border. But I still hear complaints from French people who work in Switzerland that “all Swiss people hate the French.” How is complaining that a nationality is racist towards you NOT also racist towards them?? I get sick of hearing these rich people complain about their working conditions. If you don’t like working in Switzerland, then don’t do it. But then they’d have to earn a typical French salary like everyone else in the country, and that would be horrible! After earning 3000-4000€ a month, how could they ever go back to a measly 1500€?

The extreme right political party in Switzerland, which has already been trying to ban the building of minarets, is now attacking French workers in Geneva. They call them “racaille” and even “criminels étrangers” in their latest newspaper ads in response to the CEVA project to start train service between Geneva and Annemasse to make it easier for commuters to get to and from work. I understand that they’re mad about the high unemployment in the Geneva area, but calling French people scum?? Come on.  How about you just give out fewer work permits to French people?

I wonder if tensions are as high in other bordering countries. I can’t imagine so since almost all of the other countries are EU and therefore must allow French people to work there. There is no debate about work permits. None of them offer much higher salaries like Switzerland either. And of course, the language barrier probably prevents many French people from working in Germany or Italy or Spain… But what about Belgium? Are salaries higher there? Do a lot of people in Lille commute to Belgium to work?

Bon jour d’action de grâce !

Un bon jour d’action de grâce à tous mes amis canadiens et canadiennes !!

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PACS is 10 years old

PACSing was created in France in late 1999, originally as an alternative to gay marriage, but straight couples are also allowed to get PACSed. In 2000, there were 22,108 PACS. In 2008, the number had risen to 144,716. However, less than 6% of the PACS in 2008 were gay couples. The majority of PACS are […]

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Where does the time go?

I’ve finished my first full week of classes (all 16.5 hours) and even though I only work Monday-Wednesday, I am exhausted! I would prefer to work 4 hours a day over 4 days, but the students don’t have classes on Thursday afternoons because of sports. So as of 6:30pm Wednesday evening, I am en week-end. […]

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I.D. se prononce Heidi

I somehow came across the French School of Detroit’s site when I was reading France-Amérique and I thought their page on American vocabulary was so cute. The students’ parents are not always fluent in English, so they explained a few American words that the parents will probably encounter. Lunchbox: Concrètement, il s’agit des repas pour vos […]

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My new favorite applet for teaching and learning languages online: NanoGong

I just discovered this awesome applet called NanoGong from the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. It’s a mini-recorder that you can use on webpages (and Moodle) and it will work perfectly in my vocabulary classes! The students listen to my pronunciation (by using flash mp3 players that I already embedded into the flashcards) […]

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Year Four Begins…

I completely missed my 3 year anniversary of living in France! In some ways, it seems longer than 3 years. In other ways, not so much. Year four brings a new apartment and city to discover, the same job but new students to teach, and another year closer to officially becoming French. I feel like […]

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My rentrée is almost here

Tomorrow I will finally start classes again! We are just doing placement tests so we can divide the groups by level, but it’s still work, especially since we’re using our lovely computer lab with Windows 2000 and so far 3 out of 18 of the computers are already dead. New computers will be installed, but […]

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Colloquial French Grammar

I just finished reading Colloquial French Grammar by Rodney Ball, which I highly recommend to those who want to learn the “rules” of everyday spoken French. You do have to have some knowledge of French because sometimes there are no translations given, and a linguistics background would be helpful to understand all of the grammatical […]

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Hot Potatoes and Audio Flashcards

As of September 1, 2009, Hot Potatoes (and Quandary) became freeware software. Anyone can download and use the flashcard and exercise authoring programs, whether or not you’re affiliated with a university or upload your work to the web. I use HP for work and for my website. I’ve made several flash cards and quizzes for French, […]

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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