Thursday, May 21, 2015

On being home

A couple of weeks ago, The Frau went to see a Young Naperville Singers concert. The theme? To be home.

As devoted yodelers know, The Frau has struggled with the concept of home for a long time. As an expatriate and repatriate, she often floats between two or more places and divides her heart accordingly.

The Frau sang with The Young Naperville singers for nine years of her childhood. She was the first child to ever audition for the choir back in 1984.

Anyway, in that auditorium on May 3, as the children sang, The Frau felt something amazing. She felt like she was home. The music, the children, the theme. Many of the songs were about Ireland, about travel, and about finding home. It was beautiful. And timely.

The Frau almost cried.

Which brings us to Bakers Square. It’s one of those family chain restaurants with so-so food but a welcoming atmosphere for all ages that includes crayons and a $3 children’s menu for Toddler M and a buffet of American classics like roast beef and mashed potatoes for Mother-In-Law and Great Aunt.

Anyway, the so-called seniors in The Frau’s family wanted to go there yesterday. For dinner. At 4 p.m. Because yes. Some people eat dinner that early in America.

Anyway. Bakers Square is not a place The Frau would choose, but it’s a place she used to go every week during her childhood because her grandfather loved it.

The food, again, was so-so, but the experience was wonderful. Toddler M was laughing with her grandma and great aunt. The Frau was relaxed since Grandma and Great Aunt had taken care of Toddler M for the afternoon. And so The Frau must admit: in this horribly lit American chain restaurant with a sticky table and so-so food, once again, she felt like she was home.

Have you found "home" in unexpected places?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Books About Switzerland You Might Like

As a writer, The Frau considers reading part of her job. And naturally, she likes to read books about Switzerland since she writes about Switzerland. (If you're interested, read The Frau’s latest piece, Why Switzerland So Often Tops Quality-of-Life Surveys, for the Wall Street Journal.) Below are three new books to consider.

Vision for America by Werner Neff

One of the best ways to understand Switzerland—especially if you’re an American—is to read Neff’s short book, Vision for America. In this book, Neff, a Swiss citizen who now lives in Colorado, USA, compares various Swiss policies on healthcare, taxes, politics, and more with their American counterparts. He praises the friendliness and openness of the American people, who immediately made him feel at home, while also urging the starkly less unfriendly American government to have more compassion for its people—a timely and necessary topic in the U.S. these days.
Coming Out Swiss by Anne Herrmann

What does it mean to be Swiss when you’re born in America to Swiss parents and have spent your life in the U.S.? That’s the question Anne Herrmann tries to answer in Coming Out Swiss, her memoir about identity. In the book you’ll also learn facts about cheese, chocolate, and that Adolf Hitler had an account at UBS. The most fascinating quote in the book, at least to The Frau, who is questioning this very thing right now, is on page 51 of the hardcover version: “In America, they say you can’t go home again; in Switzerland, they know that even if you leave, sooner or later you’ll be back.” Hmm.

Fodor’s Switzerland 2015

Ok, The Frau is biased on this one since she contributed to updating the Eastern Switzerland chapter of Fodor’s Switzerland, but researching this book made her fall in love with St. Gallen and especially its Drei Weihern—if you do nothing else this summer, go swim there. On the other hand, researching this guide was definitely not very easy thanks to the Swiss hospitality industry who were in general, very unhelpful and unhappy to assist her with her updates. And this guide is probably best for tourists or people who are fairly new to Switzerland and for not terminal expats, who have probably already been to most of the places in it.

But enough about what The Frau thinks. Any new books you’ve enjoyed lately?

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Blick Cover Star

The Frau has come to determine that life is crazy.

You can come home from a Chicago zoo with your daughter only to be greeted online by friends in Zurich sending you pictures of the cover of Blick am Abend...that has your face on it.

How does this happen, yodelers?

You write one or two or three mostly positive pieces about Switzerland for a few American newspapers and then a Swiss tabloid tells you and the world that “You’ve saved Switzerland’s honor.”

Uh, have they read the book they're discussing too? 

And uh…did they ask permission to use the pictures they printed?

Doesn’t matter.

The Frau will just say this: it doesn't take much to be amazing in Switzerland.


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