Well I am writing this post after the most boring weekend I have spent since I moved to Switzerland. I was practicing my Social Distance. 🙂
Julie left Switzerland Tuesday, but didn’t make it over to the US until Wednesday evening. She was over there just a few hours when President Trump announced his travel restrictions. Of course the training she was going to be leading was called off, so HOPEFULLY she will be on a flight this evening back to Switzerland. I’m not holding my breath…. It took her two days to travel to the US because of flight cancellations and I am pretty sure there are not that many people traveling to Europe right now….
Switzerland has not taken the drastic steps that some of the neighboring countries have taken in the last week. The border is mostly closed with Italy, schools are closed for I believe four weeks, and there are size restrictions for pubs and restaurants. They are allowed only 25 customers at a time. Of course all big events have been called off. Last night, I read, the government will be just now be starting COVID-19 checks at the border entrances. There are no travel bans, but people are encouraged to NOT travel. So instead of gallivanting around Switzerland by myself this weekend, I was a good resident and stayed inside most of the day. I went out and took some hikes, but stayed away from people as much as possible.
Early in the week I was laughing at all my friends in the US who were talking about not being able to find toilet paper, etc… Well, it turns out the Swiss are not much different. I walked to three different stores before I was able to find some TP. In fact, I bought the last two packages off the shelf at the one store I found some. :). Canned vegetables were almost completely sold out, and fresh vegetables were really picked over. The other section of the store that was emptied was the dried meat aisle. Dried meats are a big thing over here. Julie won’t eat any of it, so I stay away most of the time, but all three stores were almost sold out. I was able to buy a nice big salami, so I am good for the length of my quarantine. 🙂
This next part is going to be a little political, so please feel free to skip the next two paragraphs… I have to say I was really surprised at the difference in the way the Swiss Government communicates vs the US Government. I watched President Trump’s Emergency Declaration speech. My first comment on the speech was simply: Does that man hire anyone that doesn’t kiss his butt?? I was kind of appalled that every single person that took the microphone had to talk about what a great job he has been doing. My second thought was: You act like this took you by surprise. He knew this was coming for weeks. He knew it was bad, when he took the (smart move by the way) move to limit travel to China. Yet for the last six weeks he has been saying it was a hoax; when he could have been trying to prepare people for what was coming. That is one of the differences in communication. Over here, there have been signs for last 3 1/2 weeks telling everyone to wash their hands, telling people not to stand to close, etc… I have also watched some of the Government interviews (thank goodness for English translations with subtitles… I really wish more tv stations did that.) they are short, and factual. None of the sycophantic fawning I have seen from US television.
I will admit, I am a little biased right now. Julie and her company debated for days about her going over. What finally allowed everyone to pull the trigger were the comments coming out of the US Government that there was nothing to worry about. Heck, they knew. I believe the President intentionally tried to downplay this thing on the hope it would just go away. If he had been upright and honest for the last few weeks. Julie and I wouldn’t have had all this stress worrying if she is going to make it home.
I also keep thinking of all the Medical Professionals in my family. Especially my Father. I really wish he had retired a couple of months ago. I know he only has a couple of weeks left, but being in his mid 80’s he is in the prime risk category, and in a couple of weeks, he could potentially come across dozens of infected people.
Ok that is enough COVID talk. I will keep eveyone updated if things progress worse over here. It seems like Europe is a week or two ahead of where the US is in regards to infection rates. So if things go to hell, and the Zombie Apocalypse hits, you all will some warning at least!
Back to Switzerland…. The big thing from last week is that I took my language test. I won’t find out how I did until April, but I am pretty sure I passed. I was really worried about the speech portion, but that turned out to be the easiest. They were not looking for me to have a 10 minute conversation with someone. I just had to ask a couple of questions about a word, or picture on a card, and give a quick biography. I might not have done that perfectly, but I was able to hold my own for a couple of minutes while we talked about why I wasn’t taking the language classes any more. I figure that should count for more than asking him to hand me the cell phone, or asking how much the meat cost…. I am continuing trying to learn German. I just can’t justify paying $700-800 per class, nor do I want to spend the next year and a half going to school for two hours a day.
Each Language class is 6 weeks long. I just got through with the A-1 course of 18 weeks. Each letter level has two number levels, and each number level has three separate courses. There is A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, C-1, and C-2. That would be approximately 80 more weeks of school. I don’t mind the school, but then Julie and I wouldn’t be able to travel as I would feel guilty about spending money and then missing the class. I try and speak German whenever we go out, which basically means I get a sentence or two and then the other person starts speaking English, but it is some practice. I also visit the local library every two weeks for books. I have finally figured out about what level I am reading. I have been struggling the last couple of weeks, because really young children’s books were to easy. I didn’t have to think, so I don’t think I was getting much benefit. If I tried books for older kids, I was lost. I was constantly having to look up words, and after about 15 minutes of reading would give up. I found the “Magic Tree House” books, and those seem about right. I don’t know all the words, but I know enough to figure words out via context. It is kind of humbling to know that 3rd graders over here are smarter than I am in regards to language, but it is what it is.
The next two weeks are probably going to be pretty boring blog posts. Julie and I were going to travel to Portugal, but they announced on Friday, that all bars and restaurants are closed. So we will probably not be doing much in regards to travel until the COVID outbreak has passed.
Anyway, that is it for now. Keep washing your hands!