Monday, 26 January 2009

Happy Australia Day!

Happy Australia day! We haven't really done anything to mark the occasion, but Reto did make his own little public holiday (ie. took the day off work) and I'm not at french, so that's in the right spirit.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Confusion At Coop

Why is it that Swiss checkout chicks (if you can call them that; I think the average age might be a bit too high) are obsessed with tying knots in my bags of veggies? There I was at the checkout yesterday with a (scandalously unknotted) bag with various carrots and zucchinis and things in it, and the checkout woman glared at me and aggressively double-knotted the bag (so enthusiastically that I actually couldn't get the knot undone again when I got home) before she scanned the bar codes. Possibly there's a small risk that a carrot might fall out while they're doing the scanning (oh no!), but why do they care? Is it really worth getting all narky and knotting the bag for the sake of those 2 seconds or so while my bags of veggies are in their care?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


In french today we spent aaaaages talking about punctuality and what it means in different countries and when it's polite to turn up a bit early and when it's polite to turn up hours late, and after this looong discussion where we all acknowledged that there is usually lots of scope for disagreement and individual differences and the fact that rules really aren't set in stone*, the teacher asked us "who here really thinks that punctuality is important?", and instantly, absolument sans h├ęsitation, the two Swiss (german) girls, and only them, shot their hands in the air and said "me!".

And then we had a loooong conversation about cultural stereotypes.

* except possibly in Japan, it seems, where, according to the Japanese chick in the class, it's less insulting to phone up and give an excuse and reschedule a work meeting than turn up 15 minutes late

Monday, 19 January 2009

Things That Were Annoying Today

1. Ice. Ice has been driving me nuts for a few weeks now, ever since it snowed a lot and no one cleared the streets properly and we've all been slipping and sliding all over town ever since. Today I went out the 'burbs of Fribourg (to get my Swiss drivers license if you must know, tick for New Year's Resolution Number One. And even better, atrocious misreading of (what as it turned out were actually atrociously ambiguous) instructions meant that I didn't even have to do the theory test! Reto had to phone up to confirm that, though. It really was very unclear on the website. To think I wasted all that time unnecessarily learning the road rules when actually I was free to take my bung eye and my habit of driving on the left and a total ignorance of the road rules and get straight out there!). Anyway, there I was in the middle of nowhere (walking to the RTA-equivalent, which apparently isn't the done thing. They have the biggest carpark ever) bumbling around on the footpaths-masquerading-as-skating-rinks like a moron. And getting rained on at the same time, funnily enough. Warm enough to rain,not warm enough for all the ice to have melted.

2. Morons waiting for the train who have 2nd class tickets, but who get into the 1st class carriages (because it's always quicker to get into the 1st class carriages because there isn't a huge queue of people in there waiting to get out) and then go through the door from there to the 2nd class carriage that I'm queueing (with a million other people) to get into, thus managing to get in and get a seat first. Cheats.

3. Having an argument about something remotely serious in french but being unable to express my opinion in a relatively coherent way because my vocabulary is dismal. I think I may have ended up being construed as a militant vegan, which would have been fine but it wasn't what I was saying at all.

On a more positive note, I got my Swiss license (yay!), I managed to have a decent argument in french (maybe it was just everyone else misunderstanding me, not me being incomprehensible), I didn't break my leg on the ice, it wasn't freezing, I had a rather excellent salade nicoise for dinner, I got something pleasant in the mail (rather than just boring letters from my health insurance, which is what it usually is) and Reto didn't hog all the blankets last night. Which is the first time in ages that that's happened. Assidouously poking him in the ribs all the time every night seems to have finally paid off

Friday, 16 January 2009


I've been BETRAYED.

Unlike almost everyone else I have ever known, I've always had great vision. No glasses, no squinting at computer screens, no whining about having to buy prespcription sunglasses, no agonising over that laser surgery.

Anyway, I've just been off for an eye test for my driving license here, and I discovered that MY RIGHT EYE IS PRACTICALLY BLIND. When I had to read the letters on the sign, I could read the bottom line with my left eye no worries, but with the right eye I had to move up a line (and even then I had to guess a bit).

I'm actually finding this really quite disturbing. It's like the beginning of the end. Next thing you know my hair will turn grey and I'll have to have a hip replacement.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Happy (Fake) Birthday, Me!

It's the anniversary of my new surname! Or at least, I've decided it is since it was today a year ago that I picked up my new birth certificate. So happy fake birthday me!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

No, This Post Doesn't Come From A Duty Free Shop

No, enormous novelty Toblerones haven't vanished from the face of the earth. Someone gave Reto's mum one for christmas, and then rather than eating it herself, she gave everyone a triangle to take home. Here is ours (with ACTUAL PEOPLE for reference*):

Apparently it weighs more than a kilo.

If only I liked Toblerone.

* Don't be fooled, they're actually the king and lady king from yesterday's hard-won religious bakery item

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


In an effort to show my parents a little bit more foreign strangeness before they left, I decided to buy one of those couronne des rois things at the bakery today (bready item being sold in order to celebrate epiphany. The idea is that everyone takes a bit of the cake/bread/whatever it is, and whoever is lucky enough to get the bit with the wee metal king in it (and possibly break their teeth) gets to be the king for the day. Although I suspect it might be rigged towards those with very small heads, because the wee cardboard crown they gave us was very, very small).

I went to the bakery. It went something like this (but all in french):
Me: Can I please have a couronne des rois?
Her: Pardon?
Me: The bread thing being sold specially today? A couronne des rois [note that I wasn't actually sure what the things were called, but this bakery had a big sign outside saying "couronne des rois", so I was going with that]?
Her: I'm sorry, I can't understand you at all. You're making no sense to me.
Me: The special bread thing because today's the 6th of January ...
Her (to colleague): Can you understand what she is saying? I can't understand anything she says.
Me: You know, like a crown [gesturing at my head] ... for kings .... [petering off]

And then someone else helped me. Who miraculously understood me. Really, I'm not that incomprehensible. It was annoying.

As it turned out there were 2 kings in our galette des rois (it was more like a collection of cinnamon snails than anything properly bready. And one of the kings seemed to be a lady). I got one of them, but the crown didn't fit. Sigh.

Friday, 2 January 2009


.. or possibly just a list of things to do...

Get a Swiss drivers license (before March, but preferably before February)
Be more proactive about doing things in french (like going to the dentist/doctor/small shops where conversation is unavoidable. I was going to add hairdresser to that list, but since my hair is looking really quite respectable at the moment and I haven't seen a hair professional since March, I've decided not to)

.. Hmm. No doubt there are many more things I could add about getting a job and being a responsible adult, but I don't think I will. Better to keep it all pleasantly achievable.