Yesterday I was invited over to my Swiss friend Susana’s house. Sadly, due to lack of good communication (in other words, my crappy French), I didn’t realize that the she was in fact, hosting a big brunch with several other couples and mountains of food contributed by all. Because of this, I brought nothing. Not even Mr. D who I hadn’t realized was invited as well. “As usual I’m two steps behind,” I sighed ruefully. Later I figured out that I’d said something more akin to “As usual, I’m two staircases behind” which is in fact, a much more accurate description of where I stand these days.
For one thing, I still can’t manage to pronounce Lausanne while speaking French in a way that anyone understands what I’m talking about. I remember going through this in the early days of Japan. Specifically I remember one day when Mr. D and I were looking for the Muji store in Shibuya. We must have asked about 10
people where it was and no one could understand what we were saying. Mooooo-ji. How hard is that to say? Later on we learned to say in in a way that people could understand although I still feel that we said it in exactly the same way as in the beginning. It’s one thing however, to not be able to pronounce the name of a store correctly and quite another to not be able to pronounce the name of the city you live in.
Life in Switzerland is something that Istill haven’t really adjusted to. Basically I’ve realized that I’ve moved from one rule-obsessed country to another. The only problem is that the rules here are completely different. Like in Japan, they didn’t give a damn when you did your laundry but here, you can only do it on certain days of the week and NEVER on Sundays. In Japan if you tried to kiss someone as a way of greeting, they would react as though you’d just poured acid all over their faces. Here, you’re supposed to do it not once, not twice, but THREE times. Totally overkill if you ask me and I’m really missing the awkward bowing of the days of yore. I definitely wouldn’t say that I’ve fallen in love with Switzerland and it’s culture (although the chocolate and fondue are seductive indeed), but I am enjoying several aspects of the lifestyle here. I’ve met some nice people and I sort of enjoy the slower pace of life. There are annoying things as well. The fact that everything is closed between 12 and 2pm, after 6pm and on Sundays can be trying. I thought I would have gotten used to the whole city shuts down on Sundays thing from growing up in Utah. I now realize however, that Salt Lake City is a veritable Mardi Gras on Sundays compared to Switzerland. In Lausanne there is literally only one pharmacy open in the entire city that day and naturally the diapers they sell there are about 15 times more expensive than anywhere else in the city. I know this from personal experience. As for bookstores, restaurants, etc. Forget it. Stay home. But don’t do your laundry.