As most expats in Switzerland know, one of the reasons it’s hard to learn Swiss German as a foreigner is because Swiss German is only a spoken language and this is a country where strangers barely speak to each other.
The Frau has often wished for a more talkative Swiss population so she'd be able to learn a little Swiss German small talk.
|Strangers don't usually talk to each other in Switzerland|
As it is, the Frau can count on one finger the number of times a stranger on the train has spoken to her (asking if the seat is free doesn’t count).
It happened on Saturday. The Frau was carrying a baby travel cot so she didn’t want to sit far from the door because the baby cot is big and awkward. As it happened, a man sitting in the second set of seats from the door actually smiled at her, gesturing at her to have a seat across from him.
Since the Frau was just off the boat from three weeks in the U.S., she appreciated the smile and the welcome so she sat there like a happy American and didn’t think twice about it.
But wait a minute. A Swiss person smiling and welcoming a stranger? She should have known this man was crazy. Her hindsight was correct. Because for the rest of the train trip, this friendly gentleman did his best to make the Frau uncomfortable.
He sat on the edge of his seat for the entire 15-minute train ride and touched her jacket, complimenting everything from her red-tag sale coat to her bandaged finger.
Now the Frau was proud to be able to understand some of his Swiss German advances and even reply to some, but in the end when she ran for the door, she couldn’t help but think that she learned a very important lesson: be careful what you wish for. Maybe a non-talkative culture is best after all.
Have you had any Swiss strangers strike up a conversation with you?