Sunday, February 18, 2007

It only took 7 months!

To meet and have a real conversation with a local Swiss family! And they would like our children to play together if they get along.

What you quickly find out about Switzerland is that the country is beautiful, efficient and the native population interacts with "Auslanders" only when necessary. Don't get me wrong! We have met almost all our neighbors and they are very polite and we may speak for a moment on the stairs/by the post boxes BUT we may spend 3-5 years here and never step foot within their door. They know we are here temporarily. The Swiss are very focused on maintaining relationships and it is not the norm here to pursue a relationship with someone who is here for a short time. For a country where approx. 30% of the population never leave the Village they grew up in, 3 - 5 years is a blink of an eye. They tend to dislike the American phrase "How are you?" as they feel it is insincere in most cases. They take pride in their attention to detail in many things - including relationships.

So while we have had an active social life and enjoyed getting to know the International community, it has all been with other Expats or Foreign Nationals (best way I can describe non-Swiss living here permanently). I rely heavily on my Deutsch teacher for much local information and questions.

So while I was weeding yesterday and the girls were playing, a family stopped on the walking path and asked if we spoke English and were we living here or on holiday. Turns out their 5 year old heard the girls and told their Mom that they were speaking English. They are Swiss but the Mom did quite a bit of traveling thru Engl. speaking countries & South America before settling down. She wants her kids to learn English outside of the school atmosphere at this age (5 & 2) and was intrigued by the idea that if ours all get along, it would be a great opportunity for them to work on Engl., us to work on Deutsch. She was very engaging and quickly said she was the 'abnormal' Swiss to invite herself into our garden and propose playdates. Too Funny. They live right next to our bus stop - we can see their apartment from ours. So we shall see.

Interesting Note: You should never have a "private" conversation in a country like Switzerland on a train, tram etc... thinking that they won't understand your English. I am realizing more and more, that while many in our town do not speak English much, it is not because they don't understand any of it. They are unwilling to speak it because they feel they speak it poorly with improper grammar. Same reason they will listen to me speak High German, then respond in Swiss German (which I do NOT understand) unless specifically asked to switch. They are very proud and do not like to do things poorly. I am soooo unproud and mutilate the German language daily but I charge on. I know it will get better, someday. Like when I need to give the moving crew direction on how I need things packed into the container going back to the States. Hee Hee

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