Weird weather (by Claudia)

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DSC_0212Ever since I arrived in Switzerland the weather has been acting strangely (not only I have noticed this but so has Mum and Dad).  One second it is perfectly sunny, then the next second it is all horrible and cloudy and just then it starts to rain on the spot, and then it is sunny again.  We have to get used to the fact that we just have to put on a coat, grab an umbrella, and go out anyway.

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Cars, cobblestones and chalets

DSC_0105I drove here for the first time on the weekend (the blue Renault not the tank in the background).  It might look small but when you are driving on the wrong side of the road, sitting on the wrong side of the car, and grappling with your indicators and windscreen wipers  it feels like a tank.  All in all it went pretty well.  I didn’t crash even when I reverse parked into our tiny parking space.  And no-one beeped at the foreigner.

219We walked into town on the weekend thinking the Saturday market would be on but apparently it was closed so they could prepare for the big Silvester (New Year) parade.  I have not colour adjusted this photo – the sky was incredible.  It is apparently the middle of winter.

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The archway in the photo leads into the old town.  The second photo shows the arch from the other side.

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Such a pretty place with its old buildings and cobblestone streets.  I love walking around taking in all that history.

220The walk home later that day.  In the background is the Churfirsten mountain range.

The big news of the weekend, however, is that we have booked our first week away.  We are going to Montafon in Austria (a two hour drive from here) for a ski holiday at the end of January.   Happy dance.

 

Dogs in department stores

Call me old fashioned but what the?  I have seen with my very own eyes a well-dressed elderly lady swishing around a department store with a very large Rottweiler by her side.  Right near the breakable Christmas trinkets!  We are not talking a tiny handbag dog but more of a small horse really.

DSC_0173And there have been others.  We sat in a restaurant after sledding the other day and there were two Rottweilers in there – one sat under the table while the other leapt around in the air in an effort to establish itself as the alpha male (I imagine).  There was a fair bit of growling going on but no-one seemed to bat an eyelash except for us.  Well ok, I may have feared it would eat some of our pommes frites which were soooooo good after the freezing air outside.

Integration class at school

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The school year in Switzerland begins in August and finishes in June for summer break.  At the moment there is a two week Christmas break so Claudia will start school in the second week in January.  She is going to a local school that has an integration class for foreign children.  There are currently eight girls and two boys in the class ranging in age from nine to 13 years, and from Brazil, Syria, Spain, Hungary, and of course Australia 🙂

The class uses an immersion technique for teaching German.  High German (the written language in this part of Switzerland) is spoken at all times and the children work through a textbook and cd.  They also learn about Swiss culture and do mathematics appropriate for their current level.  Once they are ready, children are then integrated into a regular class.   There are currently two children who go to a regular class a couple of days per week, and the integration class on the other days.

Claudia will go to school two full days per week and three half days.  She will come home for a two-hour lunch on the full days and then return to school for the afternoon lessons.  I plan to help her keep up with English and Australian history on her half days.  She is a little bit nervous about the language as she has only heard Swiss German (the spoken language in this part of Switzerland) from her dad and it sounds quite different, but I’m sure she will be more fluent than me in no time!  It is a steep learning curve but a fantastic opportunity to not only learn about Switzerland, but also about the home countries of the other children.

Swarovski crystals and some snow

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DSC_0155Swiss trains are renowned for their punctuality but they are also a comfortable ride.  They seem to glide along the tracks quite silently and our 45 minute ride into Zurich passed quickly.  We came to see the famed Swarovski Christmas tree and the Zurich Christmas markets held in the main train station.DSC_0160

DSC_0157The Swarovski tree is massive and dripping with glorious crystals.  It really was beautiful.  Of course there were many stalls dotted around the tree selling Swarovski products….

DSC_0162We enjoyed a warming cup of Gluhwein – a sweet spiced red wine – and a grilled Bratwurst with mustard and bread, and bought some Christmas gifts.

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But were definitely not expecting to see these for sale!  (and cheaper than you can buy them in Australia!!)

DSC_0175We also ventured out in search of snow to Schwaegalp.  There was enough for a quick sled but it was really too soft so we switched to plan B….

DSC_0183Snowball fight!!!

Merry Christmas x

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This is our first real Christmas tree.  Many people here follow tradition and decorate the tree on Christmas Eve which is also the day they celebrate Christmas.  (We couldn’t wait….).

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Claudia picked the tree and proudly carried it home.  We plan on keeping it up for as long as the tree looks good!

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On the 6th December is the Festival of Saint Nicholas.  On this day, Sami Chlaus and his helper Schmutzli walk through the town handing out small bags of treats to the children – they usually contain a mandarine, some nuts, sweets and gingerbread.

DSC_0136We arrived after this date so my mother-in-law made us some of these.  She also made us a beautiful Weihnachten candle.

DSC_0121Tonight we will go to celebrate Christmas with the family.  Merry Christmas to everyone from us x

My new school (by Claudia)

Primarschule Tonhalle
A few days ago I went to look at my new school in Switzerland.  While I was there I met my new classmates.  There are eight girls (including me) and two boys.  My teacher is helpful and she gave me two German books – one for writing in and one for reading. She gave my parents a CD to listen to.  The children in my class all help each other and are all great at speaking German.  The kids don’t bring in water bottles like I did in Australia – instead they bring in empty cups and when they wanted a drink they would go to the teacher and ask for a drink of water. This is a bit weird for me because I’m used to bringing in a water bottle.  I was nervous at first and didn’t know anyone but I’m sure I’ll find a friend soon.  You know sometimes it’s hard being the new kid in town and at school and everything.

Wondering where the snow is – alas there’s been a heat-wave two days.  Only two days before I got here white as white can be! Super disapointing for a kid who was looking forward to some snow and when we got here there was not even enough to make a snowman.  Instead I made a small igloo.

Where is the snow?

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So, this is the lovely snowy balcony photo that was taken a week before we arrived in Switzerland….

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And this is a snow-loving girl building an igloo with what was left when we got here.  Sadly, even that has disappeared.

Despite all weather reports that there will not be a white Christmas in our little town, I am still hoping for a miracle.

Today we are heading out to search for snow with a sled at the ready in the back of the car….. if the snow won’t come to us, we will go to the snow!

one life

the walk home from school

Sometimes you just have to go for it and not worry about whether or not it will work out. Welcome to my leap of faith.

We have moved to a small town in the north-eastern part of Switzerland to spend time with family, to travel, to live more and work less.  The plan is to spend less time inside and more time outside exploring the world.

It is the middle of winter here.  The people speak Swiss German.  And I can’t tell one Swiss coin from another.  But oh the pastries in the konditorei……