Mostly I just have a bunch of pictures that I wanted to share. But indeed it has been over a month since I have been in Zurich and tomorrow marks an entire month of school.
What an experience it has been so far. There are certainly moments of confusion and loneliness as I get used to living in a different culture. But looking back over the last 30 days, the overwhelming feeling has been one of stepping out onto the edge to realize that I won’t fall in. It has taken some serious self-trust to believe that I’m probably not as weird as I think I am to the people around me 🙂 They don’t know my family though…
Each day I am challenged by new opportunities to meet and connect with people, finding out what it means to be a foreigner, and work through the language barriers while trying not to lose my own English along the way. I am constantly asked to correct English and pronunciation, which I am happy to do but I hate being the bearer of bad news to say that, “No, you cannot say that you ‘stood up at 7am this morning’, it’s probably better to use ‘woke up’. ” (one of the funny direct translations from German).
But the conversations are usually enlightening for myself and the other person. And the Swiss have an expression that is used more often than you would realize, the simple: ‘Aha’ (with a sort of drawn out second syllable and light intonation on the first). It breaks down all judgements of wrongdoing and quickly leads everyone to an open mind to learn something new. I tease my family here about it, but truthfully I have already adopted the custom as well!
Each week is full of ‘Aha’ moments that my peers fill with interesting facts about Switzerland, language, food, music and all the rest. And I am more than happy to be open to it.
Not to say there haven’t been the occasional other types of moments, but I’m happy to pass those off as culture shock and stick with what makes me happy. And speaking of culture shock, I went to an interesting workshop on it, presented especially for international students. Rather eye-opening and quite hilarious as we went through many of the typical Swiss stereotypes. One was presented as the map below which is scary how true it is. (And just in case you can’t tell, I’m in the Odd German and English spoken bit)
So to stick with being a tidy/punctual/chocolate eating Swiss student, I will get on to the pictures.
First stop, the Zurich Zoo! One lovely Sunday afternoon in the fall was spent walking around with some fellow Canadians at ETH. I certainly have a special place in my heart for the Calgary Zoo, so no zoo will quite compare, but this one had a few great moments.
Next up, a music show I went to with a handful of Environmental Science students. The drummer, though you can barely see him, is also in Environmental Sciences. You can check out the band here www.myspace.com/coldeve to hear their awesome electro-rock. The guy in the front was dancing from the first moment, and the rest of us joined in by the end. A really great night.
And finally, from where I take walks/runs. Up the hill from where I live, through the community gardens and onto the beautiful panoramic of the city and lake.
A few last words:
Thank you for all the comments and e-mails. I love hearing what you think and how you are doing!
Happy Birthday Zahra! xoxo
And if you made it this far, one more stereotype joke…
Heaven is where…
the police are British, the chefs French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian and it is all organized by the Swiss.
Hell is where…
the police are German, the chefs British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss and it is all organized by the Italians.