Say “YES!” to a multiculti wedding!

Gregre mariageDo you know why I married her? teased Johannes his Franco-German wife Apolline whilst chatting with friends. Because she is bicultural and speaks another mother tongue, her voice sounds slightly different in each language, and she behaves differently as well. It’s like I have two brides in one, that’s the mystery of bi-cultural couples. Let’s hope that this is not the only reason!
Usually weddings, even if they take place in one country with people from the same town, are quite tricky. The expectations are different from family to family and make the plans difficult. In a bicultural wedding the differences are exacerbated: two or more cultures, languages, relatives abroad, various customs. It looks like a never-ending headache.
But this should not stop you from a multicultural marriage! The people I met to talk about their bicultural life remember their wedding with pleasure!

One or two countries?
It often occurs that bicultural couples have two weddings in each of their home countries. Continue Reading


Cross-cultural happiness on your Birthday

Gregre anniv BLOGI can’t sleep, I am sooo excited, tomorrow is my friend’s birthday” giggled my daughter last Friday evening. Since she got her invitation in her pigeonhole at her preschool she has been counting the days, the hours, to go to this young man’s forth birthday. “He told me that there will be a bouncy castle, and cake, and crisps and juice and sweets… hey, maman, when can I go?” pleaded my daughter the next morning three hours before leaving the house, already dressed in her festive clothes and jumping around like a jack-in-the-box. I love watching this excitement and, how lovely it is to observe this pure childhood happiness about birthdays. We are in May and she is also already preparing for her birthday in September…
Is the birthday celebration also touched by culture and different expectations? I am afraid so, yes! Talking with parents about their style of upbringing between cultures makes me realise how variable the meaning of this day can be. The French, for example, don’t mind if you congratulate them two days later or even one week before your actual birthday. This behaviour is unthinkable in Germany. Continue Reading

Multicultural families, what’s on the menu tonight?

Gregre cuisine (2) petdef This question might sound funny, but believe it or not, lots of interviewees realised during our encounter how much of their childhood memories are related to food, an interesting point, especially when you grew up in a country which is not your actual country of residence. The memory of a special dish, of its taste and the related atmosphere, a birthday, for example, or a Sunday morning extravaganza, or even the only dish your father could prepare… makes you feel nostalgic and shows you how much your own culture nourishes you. It’s worth remembering to integrate gastronomy in a multicultural upbringing as it’s part of the cultural transmission. And food offers a fantastic vast field! You can share the joy of cooking traditional dishes, exploring some home-recipes and tracking down some ingredients from your own country.
Tania, a German mother now living in Britain, shared that her parents sent her „foodparcels“ during her studies with some German specialties, such as Lebkuchen and Marzipan… „I loved it as you can’t find them in Britain, it was like being at home when I closed my eyes.“ Continue Reading

About Tea and Excel sheets in bicultural couples!

TGregre thé BLOG (2)alking with couples about experience as parents, especially parents influenced by their respective home countries, is always exciting. Lots of laughs, pauses for reflection, and also moments in which the couple discover things about each other…
Learn more about my project Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures.
With younger couples, I spent a little bit more time discussing the way their perceptions about their partner’s culture, and indeed their own, have changed over time. In what ways does he or she conform to stereotypes about their culture of origin? Let’s have a look at the anecdotes that some of them recounted to me…

Alice is French, she lives with James who is Welsh.

Alice Tea is such a big part of your life. It’s kind of grown on me and I’m now drinking tea all the time at work, but I just can’t put milk in it and it’s not English tea, it’s green tea…
But James is so into his tea. The first thing you do in the morning is put the kettle on. If we go to France, it stresses me out if the hotel doesn’t have a kettle in the room because it’s a big deal for you and you get annoyed about it. “How could a hotel not have a kettle…?”
Continue Reading

Open doors in Oxford: SPECIAL FAMILIES

Dear OGregre St Marysxfrognews-followers !
Six months ago I launched this blog with my dear chap Gregre. Together we went to different events, playgrounds as far as Russia! We met as well Oxfordian stars like Nick Cope and Mini Grey! Thank you so much for sharing these explorations with us.
For this week, a very quick reminder about the Oxford Preservation Trust and the Open Doors which is a unique opportunity to explore Oxford’s heritage and sneak into some Colleges. It takes place this weekend 13-14.09.2014.
Don’t be misled and think this event revolving around old stones and famous architecture is only for grown ups. A lot of venues offer activities for kids and the whole family! Have a lovely weekend (all the activities can be found here)!

Here is my personal selection of the top 5

Fire Station
Bring the children to see fire engines and find out what happens at the station and appliance bay, demos & displays of equipment and fire safety and wider work.
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 9am-5pm

Oxford Bus Museum
Take a trip back in time celebrating 100 years of motor buses in the city, free vintage bus rides. For timetable and bus stops see website.
Saturday 10-4pm.

Story Museum
Free child-friendly activities. Drop in handprinting demonstrations…
Saturday 11am-1pm, 2-4pm.

St Micheal at the North Gate Church
Visit Oxford’s ancient City Church and climb its Saxon tower for wonderful views on the ‘dreaming spire’. See inside the working clockmechanism and the cell door of Cranmer.
Saturday: 10.30-5.30pm
Sunday: 2-5.30pm

Magdalen College School
Stroll through the beautiful school gardens crossing over the white Chinese bridges.
Sunday : 12-4pm



Les vacances sourient à l’Angleterre

Trolley WallyPetits et grands sont dans les starting blocs pour les vacances ! Détail particulièrement amusant de l’autre côté de la Manche : personne n’attend d’être sur les plages de sable fin pour enfiler ses tongues, shorts ou mini-jupes. Dès que le soleil pointe son nez plus de quelques dizaines de minutes -allez j’exagère à peine- on expose sa peau couleur Aspirine pour chopper un brin de Vitamine D. C’est drôle, j’ai alors l’impression d’être en vacances quand je vois mes voisins en tenue estivale dès le mois d’avril!
Pour les amateurs, voici un billet écrit justement en avril, le voici : Ne pas avoir froid… aux yeux !
Revenons à nos… vacances, puisqu’elles sont devant la porte ! Je voulais vous partager cette photo en guise de clin d’oeil déniché à la gare de Paddington à Londres. C’est une façon bien british d’éduquer les personnes à la civilité, la sacrosainte politeness comme dit sur l’île. On peut lire en gigantesque sur le sol de la gare “Don’t be a trolley wally” pour inviter les voyageurs à prendre soin de ne pas écrabouiller les doigts de pied ! Le mot wally désignant de manière familière “une gourde, un zozo ou encore un balourd”. Sur ces entrefaites, je vous laisse faire vos bagages les juillettistes -moi je suis aoûtienne donc les vacances ce sera un peu plus tard… et avec un sac à dos pour éviter tous doigts de pied !

Taking those first steps… Flirting across cultures

Gregre couple BLOG(3)  (Version française ici, merci)

I can see you smiling whilst reading this title, dear readers! We all know that every love story has its charming (and often very funny) moments. Especially when one of the individuals concerned doesn’t understand that they’re being courted.
I can’t resist humming for you a German song about a French girl “Aurélie so klappt das nie”  (2004, Wir sind Helden).
Here are some bits in English:

(…) But Aurélie never gets it
Every night she wonders
when someone will fall in love with her.

Aurélie, it’s never going to work like that
You expect far too much
The Germans are such subtle flirts!

Aurélie, the men here really like you.
Look down the street – They’re all looking up at you
But you don’t notice because they ‘re not whistling
and if you whistle at them they run away
You gotta learn that around here, less is more. (…)

For my book project Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures (learn more here), I couldn’t resist asking parents about how they first met and how they managed the first few steps in their initial courtship. There were some lovely stories, particularly those which provided insight into the different cultural expectations and habits of each person.

Let’s look at Elise and Manuel’s story first, then Anne and Shaief’s, before turning finally to Suay and James.

Elise and Manuel: a French-Colombian couple

Elise “I remember how we met, here in Oxford, in a school for students who wanted to improve their English. I was astonished because you came closer, and closer, and closer – I had to step back, you were almost stuck on me. I kept stepping back while you kept talking and coming closer.” (she laughs)

Manuel “Yes, that’s right but totally normal for me. In Colombia, when we talk to women we get closer, there’s a natural proximity.”

Continue Reading

Ces premiers pas… la séduction au-delà des cultures

(English version here, please)

Gregre couple BLOG(3)Je vous vois déjà sourire chers lecteurs, en découvrant ce titre. Nous le savons tous, chaque début d’histoire d’amour a ses instants plein de charme et des côtés amusants aussi. Surtout quand l’un des deux ne comprend pas que l’autre essaie de le séduire. Je ne peux pas m’empécher de vous fredonner une chanson allemande que vous connaissez peut-être, puisqu’elle a été traduite et chanté en français. Le titre original est « Aurélie so klappt das nie » (Wir sind Helden, 2004), en français on parle de “Aurélie, c’est pas Paris”.

(…) Ach Aurélie – kapiert das nie
Chaque soir la même question
Quand m’aimera enfin un garçon

Aurélie, c’est pas Paris
Tu demandes trop aux Allemands
Les Berlinois flirtent subtilement

Aurélie, mais oui tu plais aux hommes d’ici
Ouvre les yeux et vois ce regard qui te suit
S’il ne te siffle pas, tu ne le vois pas
Tu fais le premier pas, et il s’en va
Mais sache qu’ici un non peut bien dire oui (…)

Pour mon projet de publication Familles Bilingues, la parentalité entre les cultures (plus d’informations ici), j’ai voulu en savoir plus sur les couples que j’interviewais. Je leur ai demandé de me parler de leur histoire d’amour, comment tout avait commencé, les premiers pas…Gregre couple BLOG(2)
Ainsi, de merveilleuses histoires m’ont été narré, dont certaines dévoilent ô combien en matière d’amour les attentes et les coutumes sont différentes de pays en pays.

Découvrez l’histoire d’Elise et Manuel, ensuite celle d’Anne et Shaief, avant de terminer sur celle de Suay et James.

Elise et Manuel, un couple Franco-Colombien

Elise “Je me rappelle de notre rencontre dans une école linguistique à Oxford où nous étions avec d’autres étudiants pour faire progresser notre anglais. J’ai dû reculer tellement tu m’as collé ; on discutait pour se présenter et tu étais de plus en plus près et je reculais, reculais, reculais… ” (elle rigole)

Manuel « Ben oui, rien de bien étrange pour moi. En Colombie, avec les femmes il y a une proximité quand on leur parle, c’est tout á fait normal. »

Continue Reading