Welcome to my world! My name's Nik, and I'm a British expatriate who has been living in Paris, France for the last five years. Even though I never planned to stay in Paris for very long, now I'm here I've no plans to leave soon - the beauty of Paris has never worn off, and so far it's been a five year long vacation! Enjoy my ramblings...

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Tea break

I don't know if this is surprising news to anyone, but in other countries the keys on your keyboard aren't necessarily in the same place as back home.

It was certainly a surprise to me when I got here - I'd just arrived and had several job interviews with the majority in French. Looking back I realise how insane that was, since even now I'd find it tough to sound comprehensible at an interview. At one company they sat me down in a dungeon of a room with just a PC, and told me I had twenty minutes to answer the question.

I scrolled down the list of questions and was pleased to find I understood all of them - both the french and the questions themselves. However, getting the answers out was a near impossible task - I bludgeoned together vague french phrases, and slipped in a few anglaisms where I completely failed to come up with a french word.

However, what really slowed me down was the french keyboard. Most of it is the same, in fact a cursory glance and you won't spot the differences. The differences are all around the edge - the M has risen a level, the A and Q are swapped, and the Z and W also - this actually gives your keyboard a french accent believe it or not, since everytime you write we, it comes out ze, which is funny for all of a minute.

So things went terribly slowly, and it got even worse when I had to write some programming code, since the brackets and other arcane symbols us programmers use are all in total disarray. They came back into the interview room, and I'd managed only a handful of the questions. The phrase 'I'll get my coat' came into my mind...

Why am I going on about this? Unfortunately it's just a precursor to something so banal that now I'm regretting even having started on this.

Type gmail into google, but forget you're on a french computer, and it comes out gmqil. Try it and see what google thinks you should be spelling. I laughed, but I'm a nerd and allowed to...

Just to wrap up, it actually only took a day or so for your fingers to get used to the different keyboard layout. Surprising when you think that your fingers are all trained to press in the right place without looking at the keyboard much, and that they can change their training so easily. Now that I'm fluent on a french keyboard, I prefer it to an english one, if only for the reason I no longer have to press shift to get "