Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Circle Around

According to DailyWritingTips.com the idiom 'circle around' means "to move in a circular motion to engage in reconnaissance or to figuratively evaluate a situation." I feel like that is what we have been doing since moving to Switzerland - engaging in reconnaissance as we evaluate our situation.

As we've been circling around we have encountered many circles! I'm not sure why, but the following random round objects caught my eye...enough that I took pictures of them and wrote the circle inspired poem below. Enjoy!
Mall corridor in Zug.
At Transportation Museum in Luzern.



Ceiling of Zurich Bahnhof.
From Dots of Happiness room at the Chocolarium.

Sculpture in front of Roche.
World sculpture in Zug.


Freaky store display in Zug.
'Chocolate' ceiling in Chocolarium.
And an All American Apple Pie made in a Swiss Kitchen.

ring
loop
oval
hoop

orb
round
circles
found
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ssswwweeet! Part 1

It has been said (and it is very true!) that Switzerland is the land of chocolate...and by extension, chocolate factories. And being a family that fully appreciates the blessings bestowed upon us, Joe, Mo and I have begun to investigate the many wonders of these delightful facilities...for the manufacturing processes, of course! Joe is an engineer after all. : )

Luckily, we didn't need a golden ticket and there weren't any creepy orange oompa-loompas or Johnny Depps lurking about when we visited Maestrani's Chocolarium just outside Zurich.

The tour began with an inspirational quote (that carried over to today's poem) :












and a sweet seat:







We experienced the chocolate making process from 'milking the cows':
Udderly hard work!








To sugar beet explanations: 
Makes your teeth hurt, doesn't it?












Then on to where the magic happens:
Peek-a-boo...
...I see you!

Unfortunately they wouldn't let us take pictures of the manufacturing floor - secrets and stuff, but believe me, Joe was drooling. Well, maybe he was mostly drooling because just about every 5 feet there were chocolate samples provided for your tasting pleasure:
Not one...
...not two...

...but SIX sample stations where you can taste as much chocolate as you want!








But what really got Joe's mouth watering was the chocolate fountain room. There were three fountains: dark chocolate, white chocolate and milk chocolate. And we were in the room...alone. You'd have thought Joe had died and gone to heaven! It was hard to get him to move on...
Sample...
...sample...

...sample some more.
Repeat x 20!

Next we headed to the Dots of Happy Wishes room:
How we feel, dear reader.

Then we got to make our own chocolate bar. Maureen and Joe collaborated on a dark chocolate delight for themselves, and I made a special bar for someone back in the US who needs a little sweet boost:
Made with love!








The tour ended on a poetic note:













I'm with von Goethe, no one should embark on any journey without chocolate. What would be the point?

Writing Assistance

chocolate bits
direct my creativity -
happiness is my path

©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Stay tuned for Ssswwweeet Part 2! 

And it seems there was a bit of a glitch with Blogger last week. Many of you may not have received my post Duolingo Says What? because not all of the emails went out. Check it out if you missed it.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

Switzerland from a Different Angle - Smidgey

Moving across the world was a big decision. We had to take many factors into consideration - not the least of which was how this move would affect our dog, Smidgey.

Would she have to be quarantined?
No.

Would she need a lot of vaccines/medication?
Just a rabies booster and an EU microchip.

Could she travel with us?
No, but the company provided a pet transport service.

Today, I thought I'd give our littlest, furriest member of the family a chance to speak...so to speak.

Smidgey on her throne.













Me (Bridget/Dog Mom): What was your first impression of Switzerland when you arrived in August?

Smidgey: Barkity-bark-bark-yip? Woof bark woof bark. Yip yip, woof woof, ruff YAP-PITY YAP!*

*translation: We live in Switzerland? Huh, I was wondering why I hadn't seen any cacti or snakes. Mostly I remember you were with me and then you weren't and then YOU WERE!

 Me:  Now that you've been here 3 1/2 months, have your impressions changed? How?

Smidgey: Bark-bark, yip? Woof woofity-woof ruff. Yippity-yap-yip. Yap-yap-yip?*

*translation: Has it been that long? You haven't disappeared again so I am happy. In fact you take me on the train in my nifty roller box. But, what's with the dog sweaters?


Roller dog = stroller dog.
Her eyes say it all.




Me: What are the things you like most about living in Switzerland so far?

Smidgey: Yip, yap, yippity-yap. Ruff, barkity-bark-bark-bark.*

*translation: You, dad, and Maureen. Also, I really like all the walks you take me on because of the grass and the smells and the food I find on the sidewalk.

Cuddle time!
Man's best friend...depending on the day.
Me: What things don't you like about living in Switzerland?

Smidgey: Yappity-yip-yap woof bark bark. Ruff, YIPYIPYIPYIP! YAAAAAAAAAAAP!*

*translation:  I miss Colleen and my nephew, Loki.
And, I hate electric cow fences! OOOOOOOUCH!

Awwww!
Who has the bed now?

Me: What part of this transition has been the hardest?

Smidgey: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!*

*translation: Don't bug me, I'm sleeping. 
 
Cocoon dog.








I guess that concludes our interview with Smidgey. She has a ruff rough life, doesn't she?

Here is my poem celebrating Smidgey's unique Rat Terrier nature:

with only two modes
turbo-speed or asleep
Smidge is either a lump
or taking a flying leap 


©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.
 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Duolingo Says What?

As I have mentioned in other  posts, learning German has been a gargantuan bit of a challenge since moving to Switzerland.

Joe, Maureen and I are all taking German classes, und wir lernen mehr und mehr.* In addition to our formal instruction, we have also been utilizing other strategies to survive get along in a country where we don't speak the language(s).

*and we are learning more and more.

One strategy we are utilizing is 'reading' children's books in German:
It IS normal to read kid's books.



















Another strategy is to plan out what we want to say at the Post Office or at the grocery store and then looking up the phrases on Google Translate or LEO:
Close enough...
One tool that all three of us find very helpful for learning basic German is Duolingo. It is not lesson based, but it is a wonderful app for practicing speaking, sentence structure, and a ton of vocabulary.

And it can be quite humorous:
Is that all?
How do we know it's green?

Sometimes it is helpful:
Very true in Switzerland!
And sometimes it is not so helpful (if you want to keep your job):
Inappropriate in any context.
NSFW!

Some sentences are romantic...and unromantic:
Awww...
...and my warm feelings are gone.

But I think the funniest sentences I've gotten on Duolingo were these two in the same lesson:
How I feel sometimes.
My daily mantra as I learn German.

My poem is in appreciation for the happy *ding!* I get when I answer correctly on Duolingo:

each correct answer
brings me closer
to understan -ding
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Switzerland from a Different Angle - Joe

Back again with another post where my peeps speak!

Huge thank you to all who read Maureen's perspective on living abroad. I think I will have to do a follow up interview with her in 6 months or so to see if or how her perceptions have changed. Stay tuned...

In the meantime, Joe has agreed to share his experiences living in Switzerland. He, too, felt most comfortable being interviewed. Take it away, Joe:
Isn't he handsome? Hubba-hubba...
Me (Bridget/Wife): What was your first impression of Switzerland when you arrived in August?

Joe: Green! When we first flew into Switzerland I couldn't believe how pretty it is. Rolling hills. Water everywhere. And SO MUCH GREEN! It is VERY different from the Tucson desert that we were used to. Even the Zurich airport was clean, pretty and surrounded by green.










Once here I was struck by the proximity of apartment buildings and small dairy farms. It's common for cows to be grazing right up next to apartment complexes!

It was also pretty evident that I was a foreigner here. Not all Swiss are friendly and not all of them like foreigners, particularly American foreigners. I'm sure that a guy in our first apartment building repeatedly cussed me out in German, but we were so new here that I didn't understand a word.* Sometimes ignorance is bliss!

Me:  Now that you've been here 3 months, have your impressions changed? How?

Joe: The green is still here. The cows are, too. :)











I've spent considerable time on the Swiss trains and have grown to appreciate ubiquitous, efficient, public transportation. I haven't driven a car since we arrived here and to be honest, I don't miss it.

Me: What are the things you like most about living in Switzerland so far?

Joe: We left Tucson in July, so the weather is high on that list. It's moving into winter here now so I may change my tune, but cool weather has really felt like a blessing.  I love the trains, the beautiful mountains, the old town architecture, water, and the color green!

Tower in Altstadt Zug. (old town)













I also love that Switzerland is a dog friendly place. We have brought Smidgey in retail establishments and even restaurants. Nobody bats an eyelash. There are also pet waste stations, with and unlimited supply of poopy bags, EVERYWHERE in Switzerland. We've even seen them in somewhat remote, rural areas. That takes a lot of the stress out of dog walking.

But my favorite part of living in Switzerland is that Bridget, Maureen, and Smidgey are here with me.


Me:What things don't you like about living in Switzerland?

Joe: Colleen is too far away. :( Maybe she'll decide to go to school in Europe someday. :) 

Also, dogs off leash! Some people are just so sure that their dog is perfect that they can't bring themselves to put it on a leash. Unfortunately, the world also has Smidgey. Note: if your dog meets Smidgey it will not go well - even if it's in Switzerland.
Does this face look ferocious to you?








Another big one is the cost of food. The cost of food in the grocery store is quite high - at least twice what we were used to paying in the US. Going out to eat is almost unaffordable. A cup of coffee at the local Starbucks (yep, they are here too) is 6CHF!!

Me:What part of this transition has been the hardest?

Joe: Language. I can get by at work, and in town, with my unfortunate English-only language skill set, but not speaking the local language is a constant source of stress. We are all studying German, but I am definitely not capable of participating in a German language conversation yet. The sounds of Swiss German spoken complicates things even more. I look forward to the day when it feels somewhat natural to make small talk in German!


In brain overload practicing DuoLingo during commute.













Me: What advice would you give someone considering an across the world move? Any pitfalls they might want to avoid?

Joe: I strongly encourage anyone to jump at the opportunity to live abroad. There is so much to experience, learn about and appreciate. I think that expecting to learn a significant amount about the new language before arriving in the new country is unrealistic. If you have the chance, maybe arrange to take a few months long intensive language course immediately after arriving in the new country.

Me: How do you like your new job? What are your favorite parts?

Joe: Roche is a great company and the Rotkreuz campus is fabulous. The people work hard, are smart and friendly. We do important work and we are given the resources to get the job done. Oh, and there is an unlimited supply of Nespresso!

Me: What do you miss about Tucson?
 
Joe: Colleen, old friends, and the Fry's grocery store on Grant & Swan. Oh yeah, and cheap hair cuts.


Flying Co!











Me: What do you think about the weather in Switzerland?

Joe: So far, so good. The cold is coming, but it hasn't been bad yet. The cool, crisp air feels good after living in the desert for a while. And there is something relaxing about the frequent rains.

Me:  Moving to a new country is a brave thing to do. Do you have any other ambitious goals you want to accomplish while living abroad?

Joe: I really want to learn German to the extent that I feel like I am a real part of this society, not just a visitor. And then maybe I will want to go do it again somewhere else!








*The guy from our first flat was friends with the people who lived above us and would knock on our ceiling when we laughed or coughed too loud. Friendly neighbors much?

Thank you, Joe, for sharing your 'wild ride' with us!

Here is a love limerick for my Joe:

There once was a man named Joe
I'm so lucky he is my beau
Day after day
Together we stay
Our love continues to grow

©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.