Archive for September, 2011

I bought my first pair of beautiful, expensive Italian shoes. Behold: Luciano Barachini.

Don’t you step on my blue grey suede shoes

I guess there’s a time when you buy crazy beautiful expensive shoes and never look back. They were 33% off the original price, satisfying my internal bargain huntress.

Oh, Switzerland. How you are skewing my perspective on how expensive clothes/shoes/everything should be!


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French class, Part 1

Last week I joined the CERN Women’s Club. Apparently, this club has been around nearly 50 years and provided activities for women at CERN. Judging by the sign up melee, it seems to be run by the Golden Girls, international edition who assume that your husband works at CERN. (Somewhat annoying for my friends who are actually female physicists.) But, for a 25 chf membership fee, I get access to a host of women-only activities including yoga, swarovski crystal jewelry tutorials, German children’s choir, and various language classes. Since I am awful at Yoga, don’t need to pawn off crystal jewelry, do not have a toddler wishing to sing Geman songs, it was French class for me.

I’m at an advantage here in SwitzerFrance because in middle and high school, I took French classes until my senior year. This all would be more helpful if I didn’t decide to learn Japanese in college, thereby pretty much undoing all my natural French hesitations and accent. I’ve found that for me, language is largely binary. That is, I know my home language (English) and something else. That something else for the past several years has been Japanese. Comprehension isn’t really the issues, it’s speaking. Let me tell you that French people look at you very strange when you say “Arigatou” instead of “Merci.” Having to discipline myself to respond in French has been a challenge, so I here I was, signing up for French Intermediate class.

On our first day, we did introductions in French and then had to take a placement test. Everything, even the instructions, was in French. Still, I was cautiously optimistic as I read the reading comprehension questions. A train announcement. An airport report. A phone conversation.

Sweet, I’ve done all this. I’ve traveled on trains, I’ve been in airports. I eavesdrop on people on the tram all the time. I was ready!

The instructor started the CD. Train annoucement: Le train vadcamzedix huinfe a voie day ennsin man twaznimu.

Omg. WHAT?

This is basically how the rest of the listening comprehension went for me. I got bits here an there like “train” and “track D,” but I had no idea what the train number was or what time it was coming.

The airport announcement was worse; I didn’t get a single word. Desperate, I read the answer choices for the questions, hoping to use my deductive reasoning skills.

What happened to the airplane?

  1. The airplane is delayed
  2. The airplane is broken and needs to be fixed
  3. The airplane has been changed

What should the people do?

  1. They need to retrieve  their luggage
  2. They should go to the new gate
  3. They need to wait until the flight is ready to board

Test aside, talk about a stressful situation at an airport. All you get is that there is something wrong with the plane. I could imagine myself doing the completely wrong thing. Well, actually, you’d probably be in an airport and watch others around you who did understand what happened and follow their lead, but here, in my french test, no such luck. I mean, I had no idea what had happened to the plane.

The rest of the pre-test was similarly frustrating. I mean, yes, I get my French isn’t the best ever, but I understood the entire passage on a princess crowned in 2003, but could not answer the question “How does the author feel about the princess? How do you know?” I read the passage twice more and realized that the three or four vocabulary words I didn’t know held the key to answering the question. So, I wrote, “If I knew what xxx meant, I probably could tell you.”

I still don’t know how I did on the test, but it couldn’t have been good.

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For the love of Ephs

J and I both went to Williams College.  Don’t worry if you haven’t ever heard of it; it’s super small and sits in the corner of Massachusetts, just a short jog to both Vermont and New York.

If you have heard of it, chances are you’ve read it atop some sort of list or ranking, about how great the school is or some article about how strange our mascot is. (It’s a purple cow.) However, recently, it seems that we’ve gotten some new press and a new #1 ranking: Best College to Find a Husband.

Ok, first, 50% of alumni marrying another Eph is really high. Back when I worked as a tour guide on campus, I got in trouble once for saying a number verging on 40%. (On the weekends, I noticed that there was always some wedding preparations going on at the chapel, so this didn’t seem to be incorrect.) Now that I’m a much older and wiser alumni, I’ve realized that using my friends as a non-exact sampling, the number is closer to probably 10 or 20%. Don’t you think that the Alumni council would have more exact information on this? And what about Alumni divorces? Do those count?

At any rate, the article is strange. Most of the colleges on the list are crazy difficult to get in to, so it doesn’t seem to make sense that a potential college student would find it useful in any way. If it’s just to say, yeah, lots of us marry each other, it’s true. But, I don’t know how different Williams is from any other college or university.

But, I did find my terrific husband. Hard to believe how our one-year anniversary is only six weeks away.

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In search of bubble tea

Dear Groupon,

I’ve been a big fan of yours when I lived in Chicago. I got to go skydiving through one of your offers, and I discovered great restaurants that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about.  Since moving to Geneva, I thought I’d have to find another discount group to get daily mails from, the Europeans being less a bargain-hunting sort.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this on my facebook pageNo, it’s not surprise that groupon has made it’s way to Switzerland, no.

It’s that we have searched high and low for bubble tea in Geneva and have not been able to find this delicious drink anywhere. And here, Groupon suggests that no only does it exist, but that I could potentially get 70% off of it.


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