I felt an odd familiarity with the start of another German class. It reminds me of the very first one I took last summer. I entitled that one , “the refugees and me.” I am not being a wise*ss – for I too appear to be a refugee here, just that my skin color is white, I speak English and I come from the USA. Just the last football game another local with Swiss German gave me shit because I was speaking English, high German and a bit of Spanish to players.
“We are Swiss, we speak only Swiss German here!”
“That’s great, but it has been less than a year, and I don’t quite understand High German, so how on earth do you expect me to learn dialects of a language that is spoken, and has no written base?”
No, I didn't have the heart to ask him why most of the players weren't swiss, fearing that might have caused brain damage with a neuron or two exploding.
It is no different than someone coming into my home country of the USA, “speak English here! No Spanish or other stuff!”
The irony is most Americans, sans the native Indians, came from somewhere else on the planet. Few spoke English when they stepped on the soil of the country.
So there I was, in that odd twist where Somalia, Eretria, Congo and the United States all somehow came together in the room. When I learned one of my new classmates was 64 years old, I smiled. He is inspiring me to learn and keep trying.
This is where I wonder if I should stop and continue this post in sections, or just ramble on? You have the issues of race, creed, color, and politics and unless you are brought in by a government or company to sort of ease you into the new location – you are pretty well screwed at a soft landing in trying to integrate.
The most difficult thing we all have to deal with is the language issue. If you aren’t somewhat literate with the local language, no matter how many college degrees, you sort of get the cold shoulder. I am white, so I really don’t stand out as much as the blacks. It sort of pissed me off that when class went by, the police were all at the school, as if to say, “we are watching!”
It is the same walking down the street. There is a very polite formality of people all greeting each other…forgive me, but I have no clue what they are saying, as it is a slang derivative from the High German of good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night. (Yeah, they actually have some clock implanted in them to know what time it is.)
Right now I can sense some people reading are going, “is he being cynical?” No, I am being sarcastic – but in defense of Swiss timepieces – of which they make amazing timepieces here – the SBB Swiss train clock is one of the greatest designs for a watch face on the planet. I am even thankful they sued apple for trying to rip them off.
I digress---help I am lost, again.
That is one of the odder parts of Switzerland. It is very conservative, and the dialects are a result of each little village not really opening up to the outside. The quote about “the farmer doesn’t eat what he doesn’t’ know” comes into my mind. Change and embracing the new – doesn’t really seem to happen fast here – despite some of the more interesting architecture, ideas, and design elements from the country.
I laugh as my wife says, “you don’t change” I am like “well, I tried just about every other idea, and through experience found this path works best.”
That is of course, if you don’t want to be a real life little house on the prairie or Walton. My hope for Colorado is my wife will morph into some dr Quinn medicine woman. (I think they shot footage nearby)
So Switzerland is interesting, in that it does it’s part to try to bring a safe haven to people from various parts of the world where political, social, and religious or any other type of turmoil comes form. The numbers aren’t huge, but for a neutral country they do their part. I still crack up when each local canton says they are footing the bill for each person, “sorry, folks, if you do reverse accounting, you will find the money come from many places, all contributing so that these folks can go to sleep at night and not be afraid a bomb, assassin, hit squad, or any other type of violence will befall them.
Each story I listen, then simply keep my mouth shut.
“What do I have to complain about? Really? What do I have to complain about?”
That is an excellent place to stop, look around and count all the wonderful blessings that are here in this country.
I wondered “how” the future of Switzerland would remain somewhat the way it is in our ever-changing dynamic world. You have one of the highest qualities of life as well as wage centers in the world. Really, you have a higher chance of going down than up.
Then in the cold morning walk, I remembered a comment from a moment of a really interesting conversation about history and politics last week, “mark, we have so many treaties, that yes, while Switzerland is like an island…we really could be part of the EU in just a step.”
As odd as it sounds, I did run through a bunch of variations on what could happen in Switzerland if the EU tanks, a war broke out in the Ukraine, or someone needed water and decided to invade.
All of the traditional answers that you probably would have the worlds largest standing army in 24 hours with machine guns and bullets, and people that know how to use them (I worry about how they would identify each other at a distance, as when you walk down the street, despite the polite – either I look like an ogre and scare people with my size? Or there is a lot of fear on the street – yet, it is one of the safer countries on the planet – sans Japan) forgive my digression, or you simply would have a nut case trying to invade a bunch of mountains to control the water…each scenario was really odd to role play, particularly since Switzerland has a neutral status. They will only fight back if attacked.
Then, yes, then…. the reason Switzerland will be ok, is really because of the banking and what is probably the size, scale and the overall global variety of different families, politicians, and elements that are in power. you know, dictators, friends and families of dictators, policians, presidents of countries and their families...etc.
A Russian friend I have in the states said, “You want to make the Ukrainian mess go away? Just seize all the assets of the leaders families that are in the residing in the United States, EU and other developed countries. Problem solved."
It is the same for why Swiss can remain and thrive in out ever changing world. There is simply too much money and wealth to protect. The money doesn’t know or care which race, creed, political, military, or color skin the money came from.
I want to say it is the ideology, political structure, and democracy, the deterrent of 8 million people trained to use machine guns that will keep the country safe
It is really the color of money from every type of character on the planet that will be the deterrent for external harm for the country.
In a sense, it is like the shadow wars happening all over the planet – everyone is doing it – yet no one will admit they are doing it – it is just the other guy.
Life is indeed strange.
That ends one very bizarre post from my brain. I really have nothing to complain about with life. it is a beautiful thing – life.
What makes me laugh is as a non wealthy USA citizen, i can't get a bank account in Switzerland. The irony is that my refugee friends can. When the bank asked, "are you a US citizen" when they opened their account - they all probably giggled and thought the question odd. "no i am from (insert any country that is not the USA)"
"ok fine, here is your new bank account!" welcome!