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Autumn blues (version française)

La rentrée a une place spéciale dans la société française. Cela représente la reprise, le renouvellement, des nouvelles activités... Cela ne cesse jamais de m'étonner que la rentrée se manifeste partout. C'est une sensation d'une reprise vraiment partagée, solidaire presque. Mais après la rentrée...qu'est-ce qui nous attend? Jusqu'à Noël il n'y a pas grandes choses à part les vacances Toussaint. Et Toussaint est clairement pour moi un jour de congé et non pas une fête qui unit le pays. Je vous explique ma perspective : aux Etats-Unis, l'automne est une véritable saison de fêtes, de couleurs et d'images. Je ne me rendais pas compte de la force des ces images, de cette 'mythologie' avant de venir en France. Mais elle est bel et bien là, dans l'inconscient de tous les américains. Avez-vous déjà remarqué les parfums au Starbucks en automne comme le 'pumpkin spice'? C'est un vrai phénomène américain. Nous sommes fous de tout ce qui est…
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Autumn Blues (English version)

France’s Number One Pastime

I’ve recently rediscovered a fluffy French reality show called ‘Les reines du shopping’ (The Queens of Shopping). The premise is simple: 5 women are given a theme, a budget, and have to find an outfit in 3 hours that fits the theme. They then have to model their ensemble in front of the show’s other contestants and receive a grade.
One thought struck me while watching the other day. ‘Why is it,’ I thought to myself, ‘that these women are so opinionated on the clothing of one another?' Of course part of this is the premise of the show. But for one single outfit you can hear everything from ‘Wow, that looks stunning on her. I love it!’ or ‘No, Chantal, that doesn’t fit you at all.’
I noticed this because it echoed with things I have heard in real life. A clothing store clerk, for example, once said to me when suggesting a dress to try "Now, this dress is more ‘flashy’ than what you normally wear, but it will look great on. Go ahead, try it".
What I normally wear? This was a …

The Aftermath of the American Election

I'll admit, I wanted to post sooner but I have been avoiding the elephant in the room: politics and the American election.
We talked a lot about the election in my lessons with my students, starting with the primaries last winter. We looked at the general election procedure, talked about the big issues, studied the electoral college, watched debate excerpts etc. There is no doubt that this election was particularly rich for discussion. And it also caused great disappointment.
I was surprised actually after the election how much solidarity French people expressed with Americans and the election results. And I quickly realized that their solidarity wasn't just because they were sympathetic. It was because they were scared the same thing is going to happen in France...and it could.
The win of Donald Trump reflects back their own fears about the rise of the French right-wing populist and nationalist party, a party that has been gaining in momentum and popularity since the last elect…