Monday, April 27, 2015

Another State of Mind

Yodelers,

Gr├╝ezi again.

Without being able to grocery shop in another country on a whim or bike ride across a border for the heck of it, The Frau was suffering from a bad case of domesticitus after six months of American living. So she decided to take a trip to a foreign land: Hawaii.

Maui Swiss Cafe in Lahaina
Hawaii may be a U.S. state, but it did take care of The Frau's case of domesticitus because she was able to 1) travel on a plane for 10 hours 2) experience jet lag, and 3) listen to another language (Hawaiian)– yet she needed no passport for this experience. Mahalo.

The U.S. is so big, yodelers. The Frau forgot how big. Travel 10 hours from Switzerland, after all, and you are in the U.S. or China. Travel 10 hours from the U.S. and you can still be in the U.S. It’s mind blowing.

Anyhow, you’ll be happy to know that The Frau was thinking of all of her dear Swiss friends when she took this picture of the Maui Swiss Cafe.

Meeting the Swiss at appropriate altitudes
And, she had an hour-long conversation in German with Martin, a Swiss man from Nussbaumen, on top of Haleakala Crater at 10,000 feet. Both The Frau, Mr. Frau, and Martin found each other since they were the only ones up there wearing appropriate clothing like jackets and winter hats. Everyone else was wearing Hawaiian jackets (in other words, beach towels) and screaming about how cold it was. People from Switzerland know how to dress for 3,000 meters.

But The Frau digresses. The point is, the world is small, yodelers. The Frau realized this at the top of Maui, as Martin proudly showed her his Swiss Alpine Club card, just how much bigger living in Switzerland has made her small little American world.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Transport Talk

The Frau can accomplish a lot from a car in America.

Today, for instance, she returned books to two libraries and visited an ATM—without ever leaving her car—or NPR News.

Yodelers, The Frau has gotten lazy. It only took six months after 8+ years without a car to not think twice about getting behind the wheel. Even for short, walkable trips.

Sigh.

Is The Frau assimilating?

Yes and no.

Yes because she does drive to Toddler M’s school and her local library—at least when the weather is bad and she is in a rush—even though they are both walkable.

But no, because she will never consider going to the Starbucks drive-through. At least, she hopes she will never stoop so low.  Also, for now, her family has only one car, something quite rare in American families, where the average household has more vehicles than drivers.

In another interesting bit of transport trivia, statistics from Metra, Chicago’s commuter train system, make it (get this!) more punctual (95%) than the SBB (87.7%). Granted the SBB runs across an entire country and considers much more than just trains in its stats (and probably also considers "on-time" in a much less forgiving way), but still. The Frau was very surprised.


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Language Learning in America

The Frau spent last weekend with some expat friends who were visiting the States from Switzerland. Their daughter, Toddler S, speaks Swiss German. And when The Frau heard her speak, she couldn’t believe how much she had missed hearing the language.

But the best part was that Toddler M and Toddler S played like they had never been apart. Although they were starting to play exclusively in Swiss German back in September, this time Toddler M spoke English and Toddler S spoke Swiss German. But they understood each other perfectly. Kids these days.

Anyway, that fact that Toddler M still understood Swiss German six months after leaving it behind made The Frau extremely happy. One of her big regrets lately is that Toddler M isn’t being immersed in another language at the time in her life when it is so easy for her to learn.

Sure, every Tuesday, Toddler M gets approximately 30 minutes of Spanish at her preschool, which is the American idea of language learning, but The Frau longs for a preschool that immerses the child completely instead of teaching the language like a class. The Chicago area has several of these preschools, but alas, none are in her very white and English-speaking neighborhood.

So. The Frau is doing the best she can. This means that Toddler M watches a lot of Peppa Wutz and Bummi on YouTube, she meets with a German expat and her child once a week at the local library (which involves more German for The Frau than for Toddler M, but that's another story), and this summer she’ll go to German School. Granted, this German School is American in that it only takes place for three hours once a week, but hopefully it will be enough for Toddler M to keep her language retention going. Another part of the American Experiment continues…

Frohe Ostern, mitenand.

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