So it’s Thursday, and I’m nearly finished with my first week of the Zurich Course, as I’m calling it. AKA the exchange student German language course that I will be attending for another month (albeit for three days a week from now on- the other two days at Kantonsschule Glarus.
So far, my week has gone…interestingly.
Monday– up at six, on the train by quarter to nine. I love train rides when I’m by myself. Listening to music (Kayne West’s latest album- pure genius) and looking out at the early morning Swiss countryside. Bliss.
I get to Zurich Mainstation, and meet with the rest of the exchange students. Everybody is milling around, asking “What’s your name? Where are you from?” Everybody is sociable and it’s fascinating how many different countries are represented- Brazil, USA, Dominican Republic, Spain, France, Paraguay, Indonesia. I’m the only Kiwi- there aren’t even any Aussies. I’m asked what language we speak in New Zealand. My joking answer is totally lost on the [Spanish? I’ve lost track] person who asked.
We are sorted into classes and go on the trams to Klubschule Migros. Migros is the big supermarket chain in Swissland, and they sponsor buildings that house all sorts of courses and classes. Our classroom is a few stories up from the Migros restaurant, supermarket and self service bar. They do really nice salads.
We get a tour around the supermarket- mandatory, of course. The teacher explains how to scan items of fruit, which I scoff at before I remember trying to buy a bag of walnuts my first week here. I had to ask like three different people.
There are about fifteen people in my class. We learn to say “my name is… and I come from…”. We get homework- some worksheets, some vocab memorization. And then it’s hometime. I follow everyone to Zurich Mainstation on the trams, and then I catch the train home, arriving at five, in the rain. It’s beautiful.
Tuesday– Wake up at three in the morning. Stagger to the bathroom to throw up. Spend the day in bed with a hot water bottle and herbal tea. Scheisse.
Wednesday- School starts at nine this Wednesday. I catch the train to a different station- Zurich Weidikon, which is only five minutes walk from the Klubschule. Walking out of the station, I turn left instead of right. My watch ticks past nine. My heart freezes at the thought of being late.
Still lost when it reaches 9:30, I call the German course contact lady, and she calmly guides me all the way back, through the streets, past the train station, to the Klubschule.
When I get there, I realize that my pencil case is still at home. And I have a scheisse-load of homework to catch up on from yesterday. And I don’t know when you’re supposed to use ‘seid’ and ‘sein’ and I still feel a bit sick and eat lunch alone in the class room, catching up on some of the homework.
In Zurich Mainstation that afternoon, waiting for my train, I buy a juice, and dump it in the bin after one sip because the guy at the counter was slightly creepy and over friendly and asked me if I was ‘going to Paris’ and if I was ‘traveling alone’ and there are tiny bits of soggy paper floating in the juice, like the kind that covers disposable straws. I wasn’t using a straw.
I get home and go to the Migration Offices in Glarus, where they take down my photo and signature and fingerprint. And now I am going to be sent an ID card that confirms I am legally here. Cool beans!
Thursday -Today was a really lovely day. I had plenty of time in the morning to decide that I was going to treat myself and buy lunch today. I finished off my overload of homework in the morning train ride- there was a chill in the air and the sun was just rising over the mountains. I found the Klubschule with a minimum of stress. We watched an interesting short film about the Swiss- sure, cringe-inducing in parts, but touchingly patriotic and the political bits were fascinating.
I bought a salad and a bun shaped like a turtle and two fruit juices for 11.30 in the Migros. I ate lunch with Giovana, from..somewhere. We small talked about the exchange- Switzerland was her first choice!
After lunch we were told to take out work to a nearby park for an hour. I finished mine in half an hour because in my zealous attempts to catch up I had already completed two pages too many! The teachers came over with ice creams- strawberry and chocolate for me! It was such lovely weather- sunny, warm, but just autumny enough to be comfortable. Doing grammar exercises to the soundtrack of the slightly less grammatically keen joking around was heart warming, and the three girls who all spoke Spanish were probably talking about everybody else, and the guys from the USA were being made fun on for being obscenely patriotic, but then again, isn’t everyone?
Back to the classroom- for ten minutes, where we found out that tomorrow afternoon we’re getting a guided tour around Zurich [three old churches!!] and we have the absolute minimum of homework. We finished early, and everyone milled around for a while before moving in the general direction of the trams and eventually, Starbucks. I got a single shot espresso with twice as much cream, and downed it as me and Carol [Brazil, Dior glasses, super lovely] made our way down into the heart of the Mainstation. We talked about language and families, and then she took her train and I walked to mine. I finished most of my homework and the second of my fruit juices in the train ride home, and now…
Now I’ve just spent an hour catching up on cyberspace and there’s the smell of cheese and vegetable fritters drifting up the stairs. The curtains are partly drawn against the late afternoon sun, but I can still see the mountains, misty even in late summer, halo-ed by the sun. I wore blue eye-shadow today- it looked fantastic. I should wear blue eye shadow more often.