Thursday, October 29, 2009

[malades préparations]

Sick preparations, what a sad thing to do. I like to think of it more as creating a cosy atmosphere to be miserable in.

Oh, how I hope I don't get sick. The young Oleann has been ever so sick lately. I feel quite bad for her as she looks like she's in such discomfort.

I've been trying to avoid getting sick. I'm such a cruel au pair, the number of times I have her wash her hands after she coughs into them. But, often it would happen in my room and I really didn't want to get sick. I've been washing my hands for the past week in addition to cleaning the doorknobs and light switches. I've been drinking water so often that I feel like I spend most of my time in my dear, yellow bathroom.

Did it do any good?

We'll see.

I've been having something of an acheing throat, sore if you will. I'm hoping it won't grow into what she had, that would be awful. Since I got that feeling, I've dranken even more (7 cups of tea + 3 glasses of mineral water + 1 hot chocolate) and napped and rested three times throughout the day.

In anticipation of getting sick, I did a thorough cleaning of my room. I made my bed all cozy. Cleared off the desk. Made it very nice. Being sick in a messy room is no fun, but cleanliness encourages rest and peace. So, if I do get sick, I shall be quite content in my large, comfy bed with a book, some tea, and toast with butter and jam.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I hope people speak French and can understand the title of this post. I think it is a wonderful word. With knowing. Beautiful language, French is.

Here is a language update from your ever so favourite not-French-speaking-Seattlite residing in Arzier:

Everyone: Parles tu Francais?
*doh - of course I understand that question and can answer it, regardless of if I speak French or not*
Me: Oui! Oui! Un petit peu.
Everyone: *a bunch of crazy fluent French*
Me: Oui! Oui! Je veux boire de chocolat chaud.

Dear world, can I be honest with you?
I don't speak French. It's just a huge joke. I can talk about hot chocoalte, tell kids to set the table and stop and brush their teeth, and declare to the world that I do not shave. Er. What?

I think my French capabilities will never compare to my dear German. When I learned German, I was oh so surrounded by that lovely language. School. Host family. Friends.

Now, my second time in Switzerland? Why am I not learning as much? During the day, I'm alone at home, not at school speaking the language. With the host family, well, they speak English with me. I could put up a fuss and say French, but the thing is, most of what they tell me is crucial that I understand for my job. Hence, there is no room for misunderstandings. Friends? Au pairs and exchange students speak English with each other. As for Swiss friends, my youth group is the best place for me to learn. There, I feel my self improve in just the two hours of being surrounded by the language. That's a good thing.

My comprehension is improving and I can express much of my thoughts. It's mainly the pronunciation that is absolutely murdering me. I can't even study well alone because I haven't the faintest idea how to pronounce words such as "affûtage." Ok, that word, I think I could manage. But they have so many ways to say any letter and sometimes, random letters just like to be *interjection* silent.

I do so like the language and will continue to try and pursue learning it.

So, when I get home, feel free to ask me, in French, if I speak French. I'll tell you yes, but then, you can almost guarantee that I will inform you that I want a hot chocolate as well.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Today was a simple day where simply being outside was enough to make me smile.

I brought Oleann’s English work to her after school and we walked to the skate park together. In the refreshing, autumn air, we sat on a ramp and went over terms such as basket, chair, and eraser.

We meandered to the swings.
Climbed through the grass.
Rocked the see-saw.

Today, I sang. That made me happy. I sang Edelweiss and I Could Have Danced All Night and other classics. It was fun.


The nicest, loveliest thing happened. Perhaps that is the wrong way to introduce what I am going to say. Was it the nicest thing ever? No. Loveliest? No. Surprising? Yes. Especially considering the country I am in.

The Swiss are great people, love them, but when it comes to helping someone with their own business and problems, the Swiss tend to keep to themselves.

I had just met up with Okan and we were going to catch the tram back to his place so I could drop off my belongings. Dragging around a suitcase all day is not much fun.

So it came time to pay but I had no coins, all I had was a 20 Frank note and a 200 Frank note. I also wasn’t sure how to use the machine that I needed to get my ticket. It wasn’t like the normal automats that you use to get a ticket. This machine gave tickets specifically for the city of Geneva and the surrounding region. Okan had a GA, a travel pass, so he had never needed to use the machine.

The tram was coming soon and I wasn’t sure what to do. The machine gave no change. I didn’t know what I needed. Then, an older woman next to it pushed a few buttons, put in her cash card, printed out a ticket and handed it to me. She then proceeded to take my 20 Frank note and counted change back into my hand in Italian.

She was quite the blessing to me right there and then at that moment.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


This morning I woke up in a bomb shelter underneath ground.

For breakfast I had bread with butter and jelly.

This afternoon I wandered around Graubunden near some huge crevice cliffs, surrounded by mountains, trees, and life.

For lunch I had bread with meat, butter, and a pickle.

This evening I found rest in my friend's apartment in the busy city of Zürich.

For dinner I had bread with butter.

I'm glad at least one thing in life can remain constant.
I am thankful for good bread.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


With sick days come sick foods and with this comes my rediscovery of bouillon.

Are you ready to see how my French is coming along? I find the following phrases to be vital to anyone's stay in a French speaking country.

Je bois de bouillon.
Où est le bouillon?
Pourquoi bois tu de bouillon?
Comment de la bouillon?
Combien coute le bouillon?
Je bois beaucoup de bouillon!

I am not sure about grammar, but I think I could make my point clear with those statements.

Anyways, today I had a craving for something I rarely ever drink. Bouillon. Bouillon usually comes in a compact cube of powder that, when mixed with hot water, forms a delicious broth. So yes, it's just broth, nothing else.

It's salty chicken flavoured water and I find it to be delicious.

I just drank .75 liters of it. I'm allowed to, it's my sick day.

There is something in the taste that reminds me of Thanksgiving.
Something in the smell that reminds me of, well, Thanksgiving again.
It's a comforting sensation.

Bouillon is broth, and there is a famous old proverb that goes, "Too many cooks spoil the broth," so I suggest you bustle on over to your kitchen and try out my timeless bouillon recipe... alone. Do it alone or else it will be awful!

Are you ready for my recipe? You might want to go grab a pencil so you can write it down.

Boil half a litre of water. Add bouillon cube. Stir to dissolve. Drink.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I am thankful for... sick days.
Being sick usually just gets me down. I hate the thought of missing out on life, but today's sick day turned into a time for thought and relaxation.
I woke up at 6:00 AM, prepared to head to a Rotex weekend in Chur. The moment I heard my ring-tone blast through the room, I knew today was not going to be a day for adventures. A sore throat and pulsing head sent me to the kitchen for a quick cup of tea and then back into bed.
11:53, my day begins with social networking and spätzli. Instead of taking a four hour train ride, I had stayed in bed and gotten the rest I needed.
I tidyed up my room for a day of relaxation, all to the tune of Jamie Cullum.
I then worked on my agenda, gluing in pictures of lavendar honey and a snippet of an outfit I liked from the newspaper. Red vest. brown jacket. Small bow-tie. I think my brother could pull it off.
By 1:30, it was time to settle into bed again. I grabbed my history books and tried to make a dent in the assigned reading. I have never felt so un-like a student, yet there is no denying my status of a college kid, right now. A college kid who lives in the mountains of Switzerland and fills her days with walks through the village instead of roomates and long lectures.
To the soundtrack of Finding Neverland I made it through a few pages of my assigned reading. I was already curled up in bed and the transition to sleep came easily.
5:30 PM. Good morning world? I'm greatful Christine gave me a call as it kept me from missing out on the rest of this day. I had been dreaming about the history of aircraft in the Italian part of Switzerland, Ticino. It was a scholary dream. I have the vague memory of a house in Kentucky as well. Maybe that is where I will be someday.
I made myself yet another cup of tea, all in the name of hydration and comfort.
I then connected to the world outside my bedroom in the basement through the world wide web.
Unmotivated to stay up in a horizontal position, I crawled back into bed with some books I had selected to read for pleasure. Currently I am working through two simple books.
Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Caroll, 1962.
Daddy-Long-Legs, by Jean Webster, 1912.
Both have timeless canvas covers and were printed in Great Britan.
I lit a candle from the sack and put on some calming Christmas music. Michael Bublé, McFly, and many classics that you know, but you didn't know you knew, sang through my room as I got lost in the worlds of the books I am reading.
Here are some thoughts I have been having today:
Kentucky. I still think about Kentucky all the time, maybe even daily. Will I end up there someday? I've been looking up some Christian colleges located there.
College. I could have had a roomate by this time and been experiencing a new world. Life is full of alternate possibilities. I chose Switzerland.
Anti-social. No, I am not anti-social, being alone on a Saturday night, I am sick and should stay in bed rightly so.
Farewell. Alice flew away from Switzerland today at 7:00 PM. Knowing I don't have a friend to call on at any hour for walks or long conversations leaves me feeling a bit empty. She was such a major part of that which I have come to call my Swiss life.
Bed. I love having a huge bed. I love pulling the covers up to my chin and feeling safe and secure. The sheets are fresh and it feels likes the luxury of a hotel.
Candles. They have the power to change the mood of any room and slow down time.
"People sleep peaceably in their beds...."
George Orwell

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


“It is better to be making the news than taking it...”
- Winston Churchhill -

Switzerland, what have you done to me? I am so naive.

I got my hands on an English newspaper today.
The man sitting across from me on the train had it in his bag.
I decided that our common language was a bond strong enough for me to ask the favour of reading it.

I now want to make a huge statement as I say that I believe I have not been missing anything by getting absorbed in my own life and forgetting about the outside world. Is that selfish of me?

The man warned me before I read it, he did. He said it was full of bad news. He was right. I simply found it a depressing experience. That is what the English newspaper has become to me.

When I go to Switzerland, my world shrinks to my own existence. I feel so self centered and naive living that way, but it takes more motivation than I have to read about natural disasters in a foreign language. Reading the news just feels like a huge burden to me. I can only read about the recession so many times.

(Side note, here's one article that did catch my eye. It's about the Wood Schools in Denmark.)

Monday, October 5, 2009


"...we do not mark our lives by dates and times, but instead by moments in our lives."
-Christian Kang-

It's those little moments that I try and try to hold onto, that I never want to forget.

Moments throughout my day such as...
  • Walking to school with Oleann in the morning, hand in hand. She was cold so I gave her my unusually large shirt. Wrapped up with the sleeves hanging down to her knees, she looked up and said, "I love... Maggie!" and gave me a hug. Walking like that was no easy task.

  • I almost brought my iPod with me as I walked to pick up Oleann, but if I had, I would have missed this moment. I was approaching a little boy and his nanny who were taking a stroll in the crisp, fresh autumn air. He pointed to me and said, "She. What is the name?" to which I said, "My name is Maggie." His face lit up and he gave me a huge grin, I don't think he expected me to speak or understand English.

  • Walking to school after lunch with Oleann. Listening to songs from Glee, we twirled down the lane, skipping - Oh Switzerland, did you think I could keep my joy inside? We then proceeded to sing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as we waved to the old man trimming his hedge.

  • Smelling Chai tea for the the first time in a while. I had forgotten what it smells like.

  • Watching Oleann dance around to, uh, interestng music as Floriane studies and I just lounge on the bed with my eyes closed.

  • Running home from school with umbrellas as weapons, we hid from ghosts and vampires. The boy following us didn't quite know what to think.

  • Cooking up chicken for dinner, listening to music and having the family come home. Knowing I can help in some way in this family.

  • Eating burritos... in Switzerland. This is a first for me.

I could show my you schedule, my to do list, but in all honesty, this is what my life is what now. This is what it means.... burritos!

Friday, October 2, 2009

[stupide moment]

Somedays, well, I'm just not that bright. I'm slightly amazed that I'm still alive, at times.

Anyways, today, it was 4:00 and I was already anticipating youth group coming up that night at 8:00. I thought of how I could make the time waiting not seem so long. I decided to walk there.

I headed out at 6:22 PM.

For those of you unfamiliar with Switzerland, the entire country is filled with these yellow "Wanderweg" signs that show you how many minutes it is to walk to anywhere. You could get to pretty much any place without having a clue where it is, just by following these signs. I decided to put them to a test.

I left from Arzier and my destination was the Gland trainstation, and then to my church.

First reason why it was stupid for me to do this - I still have a brace and was on crutches. The crutches were real life savers, this evening. I used them to hop and run much of the way. They also were handy because...

I ended up with bloody, blistering heels. Just 25 minutes or so in, I realized my shoes were rubbing my feet wrong. Now these are the hiking boots I wear all the time in America without a problem, so I didn't imagine they could do the damage they did. But see the above picture. Blood isn't extreme.
The pathways I took this time weren't always friendly. The path soon decended down hills into a valley and I watched as the sun went down. I picked up my pace as the path lead me deep into the woods. A few times I would surface up to civilization and breath a huge sigh of relief before the path carried me back into the darkness. A little path that curved with each turn of the creek.
I always hoped that my eyes would adjust to the dark quickly because misteps could twist my ankle, which would slow down my pace by half. The path forced me to go up and down steep slopes and underneath tunnels on tiny pathways that I couldn't see.
After and hour and a half of wandering, I reached a bus stop. It was dark and my ankles were causing me grief. I asked the kid ther if the bus was headed to Gland, he said no, so it was back to the train for me. Another hour, the sign said.

Finally, I felt like I reached Gland. I knew I hadn't completed the path but I was sick of the Wanderweg at night so I just left. Then I was in a city with no sense of orientation. I just started walking based on how I felt. Where I thought I should go. It must have worked (go feelings), because after 20 minutes, I ended up at my destination - Youth Group.
Wandering is one of those things I missed a lot about Switzerland. It's addicting, something I could do every day. In fact, I have done it every day since I did that initial 6 mile trek to Gland. It makes me feel fresh, accomplished, and to some extents - free.