01 February 2007

One Tour Bus, Forty Swiss and Me

Today I went on a field trip to Château de Prangins, one of the Swiss National Museums. They were hosting a Papierschnitte Exhibit. I highly recommend it. Both interesting and beautiful. If you happen to be in the Geneva area, take a trip up the road to the village of Prangins.

I had been invited by Frau M., our landlady. I met her this morning at 7:50 am and we walked to the pick-up point together. I was a little nervous because all of the other participants were Swiss. And, of course, I do not speak Swiss German. But I thought it would be fun to not only see another area of Switzerland and the exhibit, but believed that increased exposure to German and/or Swiss German would only help me grow more comfortable with the language.

And it worked. When the trip started I could only hear a rhythm of sounds that had little meaning. By the end, I was started to distinguish more and more words. And I even knew what some of them meant! I also learned more about Swiss culture, both at the museum and by hanging out with a large group of Swiss. And discovered that a discussion about the transit fare increases is a sure-fire way to get everyone talking at once.

Plus I had a great time. Everyone was so friendly and smiled encouragingly at my fumbling attempts to speak German.

While touring the exhibit, Frau M. discussed the cultural influences that appeared in the art as well as helped me figure out how to translate the words by looking at the common roots. (All of the interpretive signs were in French and German, not English.)

After Frau M. and I finished touring the exhibit we had an hour before the bus left for Zürich. Frau M. headed off to the bakery to pick up something unique to Prangin. I wandered about taking photos, meandering through the village and ended with a short walk along Lake Geneva.

I returned to the bus before the driver had returned and sat on a rock to wait. Two of the other group members with whom I had not yet spoken joined me on the rock. We struck up a conversation.

They are both in their 70's and they are taking English classes together to "keep their brains busy." So between their bit of English and my bit of German, we were able to briefly and simply discuss many topics. But, of course, unable to discuss anything in depth!

I must find more ways to hang with the Swiss. It's a great way to learn the language and learn about the country at the same time.

By the way, here are a few photos from the Château...

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