The Language House

A Chocolate Treat In Paris

In Uncategorized on March 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I just happened to pick up a brochure in the lobby of a hotel in Paris entitled “A  Chocolate Story” and decided to visit The Chocolate Museum located on rue Bonne Nouvelle, so I asked my daughter to accompany me this chilly Saturday afternoon. Upon entering the museum, we were pleasantly greeted with the scent of chocolate and samples of four different chocolates coming from different parts of the world. This informative exhibit is composed of three floors where one discovers the history of chocolate starting from the Aztecs to the present day.

     The first floor displays the early growth of the “cacao tree”; the process of removing the beans from the pods, grinding, forming cacao powder and ancient cacao recipes. The second floor begins with the arrival of the hot chocolate drink in France and other European countries then finally its arrival to America. An excellent display of hot chocolate pots and exquisite porcelain cups and saucers used expressly for hot chocolate. The third floor displays posters, prints, and information on famous chocolatiers in Europe and America. There is a short film to view followed by a chocolate demonstration and tasting.

Finally, the tour concludes with a visit to the small gift shop which sells delicious chocolate treats for purchase. This experience is a delightful way to spend a rainy afternoon in Paris.

Dr. Brenda Bowe Johnson


Finding Housing Abroad

In 1 on March 30, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I would say that finding suitable, affordable housing abroad is no easy task especially when considering Europe. It can definitely be done although it requires some patience and savings.

To begin with, before you arrive, look for temporary housing. Whether the goal is to rent an apartment for a year or even buy a house, always plan to be on-site to do the visits and see for yourself before you commit to anything.

Temporary housing in Europe has become easier to secure than ever before despite the fact that it still takes some work. Now, in many countries, you can find apartments to share on popular find-a-room websites. If you don’t want to share an apartment with strangers, there are online agencies that can arrange apartments for you on a short term basis but bear in mind that often they will be expensive. Be ready to make compromises.

Next, before you arrive, do an internet search about the city/region/country where you want to live. Find out ahead of time what the typical process is for securing housing. Never assume that it will be similar to your own country…leave nothing to chance. How long should it take, what paperwork will you need? Is it easy to open a bank account in said country?

Once you do all the research, if you find that it seems difficult to find affordable housing, don’t give up. Next, start talking to people who already live there, especially expats. Try to find out some of the loopholes or ways around the standard rules posted. Imagine you’re a journalist trying to uncover all information available.

Lastly, be prepared, financially for this project. When making the move abroad, things will cost money, especially in Europe and its surrounding countries. Therefore, expect it. It’s great to air on the side of economy, but be prepared for unexpected costs. Take a serious look at your finances before you head out.

The Foreign Language Question

In Living Abroad Advice on February 23, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I do believe that there are some expatriates out there who have choosen to live in the country where they are now because the natives speak the same language as they do. There are even more who live in a country where the native language spoken is different from their own but, they do not speak it. What a missed opportunity! Many people think that just by being in a foreign country, one will just acquire the local language and while it definitely helps, its not enough to attain true mastery. So what are our choices?

1. Language lessons are a good introduction but often they are expensive. I will add that even with the other options mentioned, occassionally taking one to one lessons is a good idea if only to perfect one’s language.

2. The Language Exchange is a free way to accomplish similar effects as language lessons but its free and you can potentially make friends as well.

3. Going it alone is another option if you are naturally self-motivated. One form of “going it alone” could be joining various local groups or activities where the people involved are not interested in English. This way, you are forced to exercise your second language skills.

My personal opinion is to use all three at the same time. Be thirsty for the language you want to acquire. As a result, not only will your language ability improve but you’re highly likely to make new friends as well. G.G.