The answer is simple: temporary unemployment and a desire to learn German in Switzerland as quickly as possible. If it isn’t obvious I just started an intensive German class. I’ll be missing a week for vacation so I opted for the least expensive school in Zürich, taught by teachers in training. I was a little anxious at first, keeping the old “you get what you pay for” adage in mind, however, I’m happy I went with this option. My class is small, comprised of about eight to ten students with an equal number of countries represented.
While, I could be conjugating irregular verbs alongside wealthy American bankers’ wives in one of the more pricey classes, I’ve instead met a group of people from all over the world that I would never encounter otherwise. And I’ve discovered that no matter your native tongue, German is a great equalizer, a bitch of a language that knows no mercy. For example, when you think you’ve got something hard like the dative down, and you proudly exclaim what you think is a perfectly formed, correctly conjugated sentence, they go and change the word order on you and you’re totally wrong. But just like suffering through a spin class, a group dynamic can make even the most brutal exercises bearable and weirdly fun in a sadistic sort of way.
Outside of my class, I’ve started to meet people and get a little bit of an introduction to the expat community here. It’s amazing how much easier it is to meet people when you’re far from home. Commiserating over things like the complexities of Swiss recycling and $9 lattes creates an instant bond. I also find that because I don’t know anyone, I’m much more willing to challenge my shy Bostonian inclinations, and meet complete strangers for coffee or trips to museums.
Now if the weather would just cooperate. Last weekend was rainy so rather than go hiking as we planned, we instead enjoyed a leisurely weekend in the city that included brunch at Fork and Bottle, a friendly American owned restaurant/beer garden in the Enge Area with great American standards like Eggs Benedict and burgers.
Later in the afternoon, we walked to Rote Fabrik, an old manufacturing plant that’s been turned into an artist space and restaurant. The path to the restaurant along the lake is covered with graffiti.
Once inside, it was packed with hip Swiss families enjoying a little downtime on a rainy Sunday.
Later in the week I tried an alternative running route and came across a cow pasture within three minutes from my city apartment. Imagine if there were cow pastures within a half mile of the south end?
While the week’s weather was mostly cloudy, Thursday we finally saw sun. After my usual lunch/cappuccino/homework session I strolled down to the lake and relaxed in the sun while watching tourists feed the swans.
When I thought the afternoon couldn’t get any more perfect, a woman sitting next me opened a fresh box of Luxemburgerli or Swiss-style macaroons and offered me one. At home I would have assumed that said woman was either trying to steal my wallet or invite me to be a disciple in her cult/religion. Maybe it was the the lake, the swans, or just the seductive lure of the Luxemburgerli, but against my better judgement I helped myself.