Tuesday, August 29, 2017

State of the Art

Between relying on public transportation and having an apartment-dwelling dog, we walk A. LOT. Lucky for us the canton (state) we live in, Zug, has not only beautiful landscapes, but also an abundance of public art. The following photos of public art can be found on our daily commutes and/or dog walking routes. And since this is a post about art, my poem is brief with the images doing the most of the talking*...
This sculpture is in a meadow behind the shopping mall.

This fountain is right outside our apartment building.

One of many Bulls in the city..
...another Bull
...and yet another Bull.
Mo's favorite.
Tucked between two apartment buildings.
A dragon slide on a public school playground.
*Speaking of talking...Smidgey SCREAMED at this one...
...and these guys!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Pesky Language Barrier or Panic at the Grocery Store

http://www.ineichen-ag.ch/uploads/images/Gallery/Coop-City/fro_20150423_6604-Bearbeitet.jpg
This is where I shop, Coop City Zug: 1st floor is a clothing department store with shampoo and make-up, 2nd floor is the grocery store with a Bed Bath and Beyond type section, and the 3rd floor is a huge toy store, appliances (big and small) and bathroom remodeling stuff!


No matter what language you speak or what country you live in, you gotta eat. And unless you have a limitless supply of money to go to restaurants, you are going to have to go grocery shopping.


During our first few weeks here in Zug, Maureen and I would go grocery shopping together. We had our system: we each carried a hand basket filling it with items from our list, then I would smile and nod while handling the payment with the cashier and she would bag the groceries - no baggers here! Then we juggled the bags between us to walk home. But now Maureen is back in school and I am flying solo at the grocery store. Actually, going to the grocery store alone has been fine except when that pesky language barrier comes into play. 

Generally, when interacting with a stranger in Switzerland, you have a 50/50 chance that they will speak English. If they do speak English, they will usually default to English if they know you don't speak German. Most of the time this is very helpful, but sometimes it can be frustrating because we want to practice our German (though we are infants in our language acquisition). On the other hand, if a Swiss stranger doesn't speak English, gesticulation and context can go a long way...until anxiety enters the picture. That's what happened the other day. My poem below shows where my mind went when I panicked at the grocery store.
Panic at the Grocery Store

The cashier's insistent jabs 
in the air in front of me
feel like needles under my skin.

With increasing irritation
(and possible rage?)
she repeats the same German phrase.

Each air poke and intonation
makes my brain constrict and
go into lock down.

Entschuldigung, ich spreche kein Deutsch.*
Ich verstehe nicht.*
None of the phrases I learned 
from our German tutor or
practiced  on Duolingo
enter my mind or travel 
down to my lips.

Eventually the annoyed woman
behind me removes the rolling 
hand basket from my trembling hands
and puts it where the cashier 
is pointing.

I find my voice,
"Lo siento, gracias."**

My high school Spanish
teacher would be
proud. 

©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

*German translation:  
Pardon me, I don't speak German. 
I don't understand.

**Spanish translation:
I'm sorry, thank you.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

It's About Time

First day of 8th Grade (with dog).
Since moving to Switzerland, time has taken on a whole new meaning for all of us, but most especially for Maureen. Today she started 8th grade at the International School of Zug and Luzern (ISZL.ch). As I mentioned previously we do not have a car thus we are dependent on public transportation - including Maureen. As such, in order to get to school she is responsible to get up on time, make her train, then her bus, and arrive in class before the bell rings. Every day. By herself.

In the time we've been here she and I have practiced the route to and from school together many times. We navigated the platforms and the bus station as a team. Then last week, she went alone several times. One day she couldn't remember which ramp/stairs to take out of the train station and missed her bus. Another day she missed the return bus by a few minutes and was forced to wait 40 minutes for the next bus. But with each solo excursion her confidence grew. Today, instead of waiting for the next train to get home (30 mins) she decided to take a bus back which got her home 20 minutes earlier than expected. Our girl is growing up...

Today I have a poem about how the meaning of time has changed for Maureen.
(Photograph is of Mo's hand and her new Swiss watch)



Friday, August 18, 2017

Dog Train-ing

Switzerland has an amazing public transportation system (SBB.ch). We made the conscious decision when we moved here that we were going to use the trains, buses, and boats exclusively instead of owning a car. "But what about your dog?" you may be asking. Well, dogs can ride public transportation with a half-fare ticket unless the dog is small, then it is free! And as luck would have it, our Smidgey is just under the 30 cm height maximum and fits in a carrier, basket or other suitable container. On public transportation she's considered hand luggage!

Below is my poem about Smidgey's Train-ing experience:
(Photo credit: Joe)


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gruezi from Suisse!

My husband, one of my daughters, and I moved to Zug, Switzerland about two weeks ago for my husband's career. Our adjustments have been big (we really need to learn German!) and small (my daughter has to remember to order "Wasser, no gas" so she doesn't get sparkling water).

One adjustment that caught us off guard our first weekend was that businesses are closed on Sundays - grocery stores and restaurants included. We had only been in the country 36 hours and realized that we didn't have resources to eat. After raiding a vending machine (it wasn't pretty), we discovered that small shops and restaurants are actually open at train stations. It's nice to know there is a place to go if we find ourselves unprepared again...

Below is my haiku about a fellow traveler we "met" in the Zug train station:
(photo credit: Maureen)