samedi, janvier 27, 2007


This post is to update friends and family about Hubby's next job move.

So I was saying the last time that Hubby had a few interviews with F*. It took the company less than a week from the day they first met him to decide to hire him, which was really fast for such an important position. We are all excited about it, especially Eldest Son. The boy is already dreaming about being given a special tour around and meeting a few personalities.

They wanted Hubby to start work in February, which would be impossible vis-à-vis his current position and the family. The two companies (they are from the same Group) are currently negotiating with each other for his departure/arrival date and we think that it'll most probably be in early March.

Which would mean separation for a few months, as the rest of the family will remain in Stuttgart till July, so that the children may finish school more or less normally. We'll have to take turns travelling between Germany and Italy in between (on weekends and during the school holidays). Nothing new, we've already done that on our last two expatriations. Though this time around it will be the longest.

The other decision that we've made is that we are going to give up the idea of living in Milan (where there is a French school). Living in Milan would entail living separately during the week. And Hubby told me the other day that he would really prefer to come home to us every day. I must say that I was really relieved to hear that, as I do not quite fancy being on my own so much after all.

So we are going to live in Bologna (the nearest big town). Where they have Europe's oldest University. Where spaghetti bolognesa came from. Next to Modena where we'll be able to buy excellent Balsamic vinegar from. Less than 2 hours from Milan, Venice, Rimini and Florence. Anyway, I digress.

We still have the schooling problem for Eldest Son (who incidentally got 20/20 for German and a super shameful 3.5/20 for Maths, which as you can imagine was so out-of-the-point and so get-my-blood-boiling). Then I came across a private school in the town. Swiss-style blah blah, bilingual education Italian-English, Italian-Spanish, Italian-French...

I jumped. It seemed so God-sent. The child will be able to follow a French school curriculum (via the French distance-learning organisation CNED) in the school thanks to a French teacher who would be specially hired to teach him. He'll also learn Italian, lunch in school and be able to take up activites like Judo, Football, Guitar lessons, swimming etc in the afternoon. Only catch - be prepared to fork out 1350 Euros per month per child. I sat down.

Oh but what the heck, I was thinking of doing the CNED programme with him myself and we all know that patience is not really one of my greater qualities. And my French is pretty good if I may say so, but it's still not my first language and will be tiring after a while. And I really have better things to do with my life. And the company may just pay for it.

Next, we have the housing issue. We hope to rent a big house with a swimming pool. Bologna was a Communist stronghold. So working class is more the thing. Nice houses for rent will be hard to come by. And the first indications show that we should expect to pay up to 5000 Euros per month for one if we should find it. That's double what we are paying now for our house in Stuttgart, and isn't that crazy for a country where the average income is much lower than its German neighbour? Catch no ball...

Anyway, like One Wheel said, must look on the bright side of things. With Hubby's new status, we'll be entitled to up to THREE company cars (one for the guy, one for his wife and one for his mistress ha ha). Though you'll have to pay your own petrol. I don't care much for cars, truth be told, I drive when I have no alternative. So to make sure that it'll be painless, I ask that my car be on automatic gears, have a GPS, 5 doors and enough space for two strollers.

Hubby, believe it or not, must have spent a total of at least 5 hours on the Internet today looking at cars (they have to be from the Group's brands though). Ahhh...hogging the computer all day long! And so you can imagine that I have not managed to invite people (to whom I've said that I'll be inviting them over for lunch etc) to the house...And soon Hubby will be away!

Anyway, he said that if I'm not going to freak out over the amount of money that we'll have to pay for petrol, he'll get me an Alfa Romeo 159 Sport Wagon. Whatever that is. I told him that I want it to be red, my favourite colour. For himself, despite all that time staring over cars, he still couldn't decide between the AR Brera and the AR Spider. The latter is a convertible and has 2 seats. I told him that that's a car for selfish people and that he should go for the one with at least 4 seats, right? What if I need him to help me pick up the kids from school?

Chances are that once I'm there, I'll end up walking or taking the bus. I've no talent for parking cars and I'm a cheapskate when it comes to paying for official parking lots. Besides, thieves are apparently everywhere in Italy, why risk having the car stolen in the streets, right?

Right now, I have other things to worry about, like Eldest Son's pathetic grades, the outbreak of red marks on his face this morning (doctor at the hospital said it was due to an insect bite, but what insect during this cold winter season?), his irritated scalp, the fungus growing in different parts of the house (due to the humidity), the tree that fell down in the terrace due to the wind and the snow, being alone for 4 months when Hubby starts work in Italy...

When Hubby is not around (sigh), I know that I'd be less motivated to cook. I'll just snack, eat junk food. He does bring out the better things in me, come to think of it. So now I have to psyche myself not to slack etc. I have to be so up to the mark as Northern Italy is chic and fashionable, I may be rubbing shoulders with personalities like Michelle Yeoh (but honestly I'm not the idol admiring sort, could never understand how teenagers could use their savings to buy presents for their Stars when by definition a Star is a million times richer than you and I and should be buying us presents instead...), and I'll need to not look like the hundreds of thousands of poor university students about town (have already had my share of looking it years ago). I think that as usual, I'll just lock myself up at home.

Will keep you folks updated if I get more concrete news.

8 commentaires:

The Galoisian Radical a dit…

Just how many languages do your children speak? Is French their native language? Do they code-switch into English?

When I grow up I want to teach my children trilingually in Chinese, French and English.

Problem: I am hardly fluent in French. While playing with French wargaming clan, making a report to my team typically goes like this: "Fai..tes attention...! L'ennemi est a gauche ... uh ... au milieu [du pont] ... en bas ... j'y crois .... uh je uh .. voy ... uh ... yais quelqu'un a droite aussi... sur ... le ... uh la ... uh ... saill ... ie...?" Struggling with the words, I get killed.

My Chinese is about ten times worse. Still, I have the hope that I will master them both and teach them to my children without imparting any of my errors.

Of course, I also want to pick up Malay (because it is so key to mes chansons d'enfance) and Arabic. Hindi sounds interesting. I have friends who take German and I want to explore English's cousin and the Germanic language family in general. It appears there is this bourgeois obsession from the Middle Ages of drilling children in Latin and Greek from young. Might be convenient to have the classical languages as native languages, but Latin is a dead language and I'm wondering whether Romance French is already good enough. Greek is still a living language. Then there are all the dialects ... !

Ah, the ambitions that one places on their children! Even when I am barely out of childhood myself; but language is slightly different - there is a critical age for acquisition of native-speaker fluency.

As a side note, did you pick up your French at Bishan? I was first exposed in an American elementary school in first grade (age 6), but it was only in secondary one (age 12! c'etait trop tard) in Bishan where I learnt it with any rigour. I'm just wondering how wide the francophonie in Singapore is, and if so many people have already taken it since whenever it started, how come I don't see other native French-speaking Singaporean children yet. Do people just not pass the additional languages they acquire to their children?

umami a dit…

Congratulations! I can just imagine all the crazy thoughts in your head and the thousand and one logistics that you're worrying about. I love spaghetti bolognaise, will try to visit you.

Beau Lotus a dit…

They (my children) speak mainly French, though they understand English and will speak it if they have to. They also self-translate between the 2 languages at times.

Malay was the first language that I spoke as my parents left me with a Malay nanny for the 1st 7 years of my life. I have unfortunately forgotten most of the language.

Chinese is a language to be picked up young because of the different tones. It doesn't matter if we do not speak it well, for when we want to, we'll manage it later if the ear has been trained. I started speaking very good Mandarin thanks to my Beijing friends in Paris and anyone who knew me in Singapore knows that my Chinese sucked.

I learnt French as part of the European Studies Programme in NUS. Then I started to master it as I did my Postgrad in Sciences Po and Paris I. Spanish is easy to learn after that. German is similar to English, but if you have not learnt a Latin language before trying to learn German, you'll not do too well. It has much more in common with the Latin languages than one imagines.

In Singapore children have difficulty enough trying to manage both English and Chinese. Many do not even speak dialects at home anymore - such a pity. European and other languages can certainly wait.

The Dutchess a dit…

Hey! Congratulations! I'm going to make and educated guess about the new company. As such, let's say that my husband puts the 'fan' in fanatic when it comes to it.

Good luck with the logistics - I don't know when my turn will be. AGAIN!

The Galoisian Radical a dit…

chais pas k ya un cours qui s'appelle "Paris I"! (Excusez-moi, j'adore le chatspeak francais, it strengthens my grasp of the spoken language ... )

I can empathise with losing a language. I used to know Chinese, but I have forgotten it and am trying to relearn it. Quel dommage!

Singlish is a semi-tonal language, so to me being able to speak it makes one acquire the "tonal principle" - and several other aspect of Chinese grammar. Phonology to me really isn't a problem, only vocabulary ...

So how did your children learn French as a native language? I want to know how parents teach their children to be native speakers of a langauge when they themselves aren't native speakers.

To me, French can't wait, because I was exposed to it at six years old (hence it's part of my cultural identity) but I've never been able to deal with my demon of language acquisition. I'd rather not like my children to go through that.

Beau Lotus a dit…


Is your Hubby in the automotive industry too? And where have you been expatriated thus far?

I'm sure you like the nomad's life too, I have the feeling that you fit in beautifully everywhere you go to...

Beau Lotus a dit…

G Radical, Paris I refers to l'Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. I did my DEA in International Relations and Diplomacy there.

As for my children, their father speaks to them in French. I speak to my Hubby mostly in French too so that's what they hear most at home. They learn French at school and they speak among themselves in French too. It's teaching them the English that's tough and I try my best to only speak in English when I'm talking to them.

last frontier a dit…

again moving, hein ?
fantastic, thrilling, but at the same time stressing and tiring...
I've been once at Bologne and I loved it !!! It looks like a small, beautiful and nice town to live. That's a good choice ! I wouldn't mind to go there again and stay in your new house with a nice swimming pool...