Thursday, August 27, 2009

[here i am]

I arrived in Switzerland at around 9:30 in the morning, their time. For me, it felt like it was around 12:00 at night, but I didn't feel all that tired, I was too excited.

Flying into Switzerland was surreal. Amazing. It felt so good. It's hard to explain, but it was like this huge weight had been lifted because I knew that I had another chance to live here. Another year. There is no stress for me to get everthing done, I have time.

My host father, Daniel, met me right outside the baggage claim. He really is a great guy and easy going. It was a huge relief. He also is quite fluent in English which made it possible to converse.

I started to see sights I hadn't seen, brands I had forgeten, as we drove on the main road. We passed a bright red "Denners" truck.

Once we got home, I was introduced to my host grandmother. She will be here for a few days to show me around since the host parents have to work. We drank some French water and I started to unpack. That's when the fatigue hit me. I didn't feel all that motivated to move in, but I did... msotly.

My room.

It's huge. It has room for a queen or kings sized bed, a large desk, bookshelf, couch, a wall of closet space, and an extra twin mattress on the floor if I so desired.

The main wall is orange concrete or something. I couldn't be happier.

It was then time to pick up Olean from school. This is the feeling I had missed.

Her school is about a 10 minute walk from home. As we approached the school, you could see the younger siblings of the current students playing, parents talking. This is a community.

Olean was one of the last students out and I was greeted with a hug. I could tell I was going to like this girl already.

On the way home, I loved watching her. The way she skipped, danced around. She picked flowers and greens for our guinae pigs. She smiled, laughed, held her father's hand.

I can understand bits and pieces of French. I have a long ways to go, but I can get the gist of things if I know the context.

For lunch we all shared a giant "omlette," tomatoe salad, and the beloved Swiss bread.

Then me and Olean had a chance to play before she went back to school. We threw the basketball around, waved to the train passing by, and checked out the bicycles. We played this balancing shapes game for a good 15 minutes. Soon, it was time to take her back to school and this time it was just me.

When I got to the school, the playground and fields were filled with children. It made me so happy. It was a bright sunny day and the parents were chatting and watching the kids from the sidelines. Olean and I joined two of her classmates for some blackberry picking.

She gave me a tour of the grounds and made sure I knew which classroom was hers. I said good bye and began the walk home.

At home, it was just me and the grandmother. She allowed me to continue to unpack and rest, without sleeping. At 2:45 I walked back to pick her up.

All the moms were in groups so I just sort of stood there. I heard someone speaking English with her children.

Olean came.

We walked hom.

We grabbed some yogurt from the fridge and enjoyed it on the patio. Olean just speaks French to me and I listen and hope I don't say "oui" to the wrong thing.

Then it was time to play. We opened up her piggy bank and got out a few franks and headed over to the village shop. It was full of kids picking out drinks and gummi candies. Olean got a push pop sort of sucker and I got two gummi candies. We played on the playground. Ran across the field. Checked out the new benches that were being built. Ran back to the play ground. Ran to the back of the school where there was a partial skatepark. Walked around the school some more. Went into someone's field to hide in their tree. More walking.

We finished our journey and home and got to work on the balancing shapes game, again. We also played Dora the Explorer.

This is when the exhaustion hit me. I had to focus on not closing my eyes. Finally, I gave in and went downstairs. My one minute nap turned into and hour and it felt good.

More unpacking.

Olean was playing with the neighbor girl.

Alex and Gilean arrived at home. Time to meet the rest of the family.

Alex gave me a polite "bonjour" and a kiss on the cheek. Gilean was wonderful as she welcomed me and asked about how my flight had been. Her English is great as well.

Alex, Olean, and I ran outside and played until it was dinner time. First Olean read a book to us and Alex started to warm up to me. Before long I felt like it was just another babysitting job, in a god way. In that comfortable, I can do this, sort of way. Rolling around on the ground together. Bouncing the ball. Laying in the grass. Playing "touche" - tag. Lots of laughter.

Gilean brought me my first letter from Roswita!

For dinner we had spaghetti which was quite satisfying. The small glass of wine tasted good as well, something they don't give me in America.

That was pretty much my day. They figured I would be tired, which I am, and told me I could go to sleep. I chose to go for a 35 minute walk around the village gathering information on the trains, the library, and community gatherings.

I arrive at home at 8:55 PM and here I am now.

I am so greatful to be here. I am so relieved. My host family is wonderful. Yes, I know it's the first day and most are, but you can normally get a basic sense of how it could be. I have a lot to learn with my French and that will be essential in guiding the kids. I am supposed to give them limits, and that won't be possible if they can't understand me. All in time. But for now, I know that I can meet the most important requirement and love their kids.

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