Sunday, January 30, 2011

Something you would never see in Switzerland

It doesn't take a genius to guess that this sign is from a parking lot in the American South. When a country is run by lawyers instead of by the people, these kind of signs tend to be popular, if not a bit ridiculous in their excess caution. Not to mention, in the U.S., there is often more salt on the streets than snow.

While I don't necessarily need a sign to warn me that it's winter and snowy and therefore slippery, I would appreciate a small sprinkling of sand or salt on my Swiss streets sometimes. I was in Adelboden a few weeks back and could hardly walk without slipping. People were sliding down the streets in their snowboots. It was dangerous. I know that personal responsibility matters in Switzerland, but sometimes this is also taken to the extreme. At one point, a local told us to get down the main hill, we should take the parking lot elevator rather than the road because the road was too icy. So we went down the hill via the parking lot.

I just wonder where the balance is sometimes. From one country to the other, from one extreme to the other.

What do you think? Do you prefer to slip and slide with or without signage?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mob Scene

Anyone that rides a Swiss train at rush hour (or on Sunday) can relate to this, oder?

In fact, the crowding on Swiss trains has gotten so crazy that the SBB is considering raising the price of tickets for people who commute during the rush hour. But the real problem, in my opinion, is that people getting on the train aren't letting the people that want to get off, off. What do you think?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Balloon Festival in Chateau d'Oex

Hi Yodelers,

It's been a busy January so far, but I'm trying to come down to earth long enough to remind you about an iconic event that happens once a year in Switzerland: the balloon festival in Chateau d'Oex. It starts this weekend (the 22nd) and runs through next Sunday (the 30th). I went to see it in 2009 and wrote about it last year. If you want to know more, you can read my post here. Or visit the official balloon website here. It's really a beautiful thing to see.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dear Frau: I'm homesick

Welcome to another edition of Dear Frau. It's kind of like Dear Abby, except with an international twist. If you have a question about life abroad, feel free to contact The Frau and maybe your little Frage will be in the next edition of Dear Frau.

Dear Frau,

I've been here 9 weeks. I've eaten the cheeses, the Sprüngli, and the Schnitzel. I've lost the 20 pounds that lazy Americans bring with them, despite having eaten the cheeses, the Sprüngli, and the Schnitzel. I've taken more pictures of the mountains and lakes than Facebook can handle. I drink Prosecco whenever it is available. So tell me, how do I conquer the overwhelming waves of homesickness that literally take my breath away even as I enjoy my surroundings?

I'm 36 years old - can it really be this hard to be away from my family and friends?! We Skype, Vonage and Yahoo!Messenger. We e-mail, snail mail and send overpriced tokens of our love. But still, I feel like a 10- year-old at a never-ending sleep-away camp.

Any advice and/or humorous/horrifying stories of crying on the train and/or Panoramaweg would be welcome.

Danke a ton.

The Lone Kansan

Dear The Lone Kansan

You may feel alone but look around and you’ll see someone who is wearing sunglasses even though it is foggy out. That would be The Frau, trying not to show her red eyes. It’s funny how airports can be either the happiest or the saddest places, depending which gate you are at.

The Frau would like to say that the homesickness gets easier, but it doesn’t. It just gets more manageable as Switzerland becomes more like home. And if you just moved here nine weeks ago, congratulations, you survived the hardest time of year to be away from family. Things can only get easier now.

To deal with homesickness, The Frau recommends being an American. In other words, keep busy. Find a job, find a purpose, find a group of friends you enjoy being around. Or write a blog, write a journal, or write a book. These are some things that have helped The Frau.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up for feeling blue. It’s normal. If you didn’t miss your family and friends The Frau would be more worried.

As you know, you are not in Kansas anymore. So the next time someone cuts in front of you at the store or barges onto the train before you can get off, just click your red heels together and think, “there’s no place like home.”

Anyone else have tips on how to deal with homesickness?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Apologetic Americans

Hello, I'm an American and I'm sorry. I'm sorry I haven't posted for awhile. I'm sorry if you don't like this post. I'm sorry it's taking me so long to get to the point. Here it is: Every time I visit the U.S., I notice something different. This time it was how apologetic Americans are. Everywhere I went, people were sorry.

If someone came within two feet of me in the bookstore they were sorry. If the cashier took 30 seconds to wait on me she was sorry. If a shopper went around me (without even touching me!) in a clothing store, she was sorry. Is this politeness? Or is this insanity?

Here’s a news flash for all you Americans—you don’t need to be so passive and apologetic. In Switzerland, people are rarely sorry about anything. If they bump into you at the grocery store they just keep going. If they elbow you at the cheese counter, they wanted to. If they get on the train before you can get off, they’re not sorry. Granted, the word "sorry" in German is quite the mouthful so maybe that's why people don't bother saying it. But still. Americans are so sorry, they say “sorry” when they have nothing to be sorry about.

I’m sorry this post is so short.


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