And now I think it is a good time for my final take on Switzerland, and a few tidbits that I didn’t tell you about in my previous posts.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time there. It was cold, but I had the proper clothing and a warm coat (thanks Samantha!) so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
As far as the language barrier goes, it was actually more difficult than I thought it would be. I didn’t really have a problem with the people I was working with, they all knew pretty good English, but it wasn’t uncommon for me to come across someone who didn’t speak terrific English.
One example – the doctor that treated my foot. He really struggled to tell me things, and I struggled to understand him. Eventually the point got across, but I wonder if I may have missed something he told me because I didn’t understand completely.
Another language barrier story – on the day that I went out for the second dinner with the team (the schnitzel dinner) I got up to go to the restroom. I saw a sign for WC which I learned on my trip to Australia means bathrooms. Well, I found my way to the general area… but I couldn’t figure out what was the correct door. There was no picture of a girl stick figure in a dress or a guy stick figure in pants. While I pondered, a couple of girls came up behind me obviously on the same mission. I started talking to them (probably too fast) asking them if they knew which door was for the ladies bathroom because I was completely and utterly lost! They both looked at me, then at each other, then at me. They obviously had NO idea what I was saying and probably thought I was completely crazy. Luckily, the waitress came up and after I explained my problem to her, she pointed me towards the correct door. When the time came to wash my hands, I did not see any knobs on the sink, so I just stuck my hands under the faucet expecting water to come rushing out. Nothing happened. I heard someone clearing their throat behind me and when I looked, I saw one of the girls who I had confused earlier. She pointed to the floor where there was a red button, and indicated for me to step on it. When I did, water rushed out of the sink. Interesting!
There was also the time I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things. The setup of the checkout lane was a little bit different, when it was my turn to check out I was a bit confused as to where to put my groceries. The cashier offered no help. She didn’t even make it obvious if she was open or not. She just stood there, looking at me. I walked up and put my groceries where I thought they should go… WRONG! She chastised me in German and pointed to where they should go, rolling her eyes like I should have known that.
But I did see at that grocery store what the Swiss consider “American Favorites”! Sugar, sugar, and more sugar!
And now the final problem I saw with the language barrier… you can’t eavesdrop on interesting conversations! While I was on the train there was a couple of girls having an extremely interesting sounding conversation. They were extremely animated and seemed very excited or upset about SOMETHING. But I will never know what that something is. I had to just amuse myself with looking out the window at the beautiful countryside.
Now onto the subject of electricity. Now we all know that outlets are different in most different countries. But these ones were just WEIRD. All those holes! And a Swiss plug only has two prongs! I was quite confused the first time I tried to plug something in. Which two holes go together?
Oh, and look at this craziness. Would you want to get money out of an ATM that is in the back of a van? Especially in a deserted street, at night, by yourself?
I decided against it.
Hmmm, what else. Oh! So, at my hotel, there were a few other people I would sometimes meet while eating breakfast in the morning. Two of the guys who were staying in the hotel were Asian. At one point, one of the women who worked at the hotel was talking to us, and started saying things about Japan, obviously assuming two guys were from Japan. They looked at her and said “Actually, we are from China, not Japan.” and she laughed and said “Oh I guess it was because of these they look the same!” as she pulled out the corners of her eyes. I was pretty shocked! Something like that would NEVER fly in America! I didn’t really notice the guys reaction, but they didn’t seem to be too upset about it.
Oh, and did I mention in my Lucern post about the homeless guy that barked at me? Yeah, that was interesting. I was walking by a stoop and he saw me pass and just started barking like a dog. Maybe that is the Swiss version of catcalling? ;-)
And there, dear friends, is my Swiss trip! The 11-hour flight home was dreadful… I was randomly selected again for a patdown at security (I was selected coming in too oddly enough… I guess I look like trouble?) and I was assigned a middle seat. The person in front of me kept their seat pushed all the way back and being that I am so tall, it really hindered any leg movement. But I made it home safe and sound and I really feel like I took a lot away from this trip. Switzerland was crazy expensive but I’d love to come back and maybe try going to one of the bordering countries like Germany next time. Hopefully I will manage to not hurt myself on my next international trip, but it does seem to be my thing!
I just went back to the job today, and I have piles of work to catch up on this week. Busy. Just the way I like it!