Sunday, October 30, 2016

[Sunday in Switzerland] Welcome event

When we moved to Zürich and registered with the authorities (die Kreisbüro) they gave us a big packet of information.  It had flyers from local shops and for services like haircuts and maid service.  It also had information about a welcome event that included information, a guided tour of the old city (der Altstadt), and an Apero (small get-together with drinks).

We finally registered for the welcome event and went.  There were more people than we expected.  We guessed there were about 200 people there from every continent (except Antarctica).  The information presentation was in an interesting format, being given in 5 languages: German, French, Italian, English, and Spanish, in a mix of written and spoken information so they could move quickly through the material, but that everyone could understand.  The first three are official languages of Switzerland, and English and Spanish are very popular.  My German is still so limited that I understood more of the Spanish than I did of the German.  Still, it was fascinating.

The welcome event is given by an office of the city government - an entire office devoted to helping people get settled and integrated into Zürich.  It seemed like a very Swiss thing to do: recognize that there are lots of foreigners moving to your city, making newbie mistakes, and not fitting in.  Solution: create an office where people can get help, because it makes everyone's life better.

The tour groups were language-based, so we got a tour in English.  We saw a few historic sites including Lindhof, the site of the original Roman fortress in Zürich and many castles.  Now it's a plaza/park and the city passed a law that it can never be a building again because they will never be ruled by a king or emperor again.

We also saw St. Peter's church which has the largest church clock face in Europe.  Our tour guide said the face was so big because, as Zürich grew, it had to be seen from further and further away.  The tower was also used as a fire watch post.

Finally, the coolest historic thing we saw was in a random alleyway.  When expanding the basement of a toy shop, the builders found the remains of an ancient Roman spa.  It had a space under the floor of the spa where hot air and steam was pumped in to heat the rooms from below and it boiled water for baths.  All that was left was the pillars the used to hold up the floor of the spa, but it was still very cool

All in all, it was definitely a worthwhile event.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

[Graven Images] Family faces?

These seem like distinct faces, but similar, maybe a family?  These were on a building in Luzern.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

[Sunday in Switzerland] The hard part

I've been lax in writing here anything but pictures.  We're in the really hard part about moving: making new friends and making a life.  So weekends are not noteworthy by most standards, being meeting up with people for food and drinks, running errands, etc.

The only truly new experience is kind of lame.  I had real Turkish Delight!  The intern on our team brought some from home.  It's not as sweet as the Cadbury kind, which is all I had before last week.  I first heard about it in the book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  The kind I had tasted like dates and nuts all smooshed up until smooth and gummy.  It had unsweetened coconut on the outside.  It was very tasty.

My German class is still going okay.  I now know enough German to make simple past (perfect) statements like "Gester bin ich zur Ikea gefahren" (yesterday I went to Ikea).  So, I can write "what I did on my summer vacation", but I still get flustered and forget how to respond when the clerk at a store wishes me a nice day.  (It's "Danke, gleichfalls" (thanks, likewise) but I always forget that when I'm standing there.

One of the couples we met with for food has been here for 8 years.  She said the first 6 months are the hardest, the first year the next hardest, and the first two years the third hardest.  After that, it's easy.  So, with luck, we're through the really hard part.

Finally, here is some random art for you to look at.