My desire to post blog #1 triggered the moment I arrived, but besides having such little time, I have not known how to start this year-goal of blogging. The reason for that is because I have been through so many ups and downs this past couple of weeks—mostly wondering, did I make the right decision to embark on this journey? It is not the kind of work I am used to nor was prepared for, making friends has been surprisingly tough and the language barrier makes me feel constantly stifled. But tonight, as I walked the streets and bridges of Geneva, I was able to finally comprehend the beauty of my new city. It feels like I am on the outside of this exhilarating bubble, looking in, but I can’t find a way to actually jump in. Although I do not understand much of anything that is going on around me most of the time, I have decided to just live in the feeling—and for the majority of the time, the feeling is quite surreal.
First off, my ‘Swiss Family’ seems above and beyond incredible. As I get to know them more, so will you.
After arriving, it was a rather tremendous, but very busy day of meeting people and running around with Audrey, my Swiss mom as she ran errands and showed me the city. I think she actually expects me to drive her car (which resembles an American SUV) on Geneva’s roads, which has two lanes that equal the size of one American lane–easy fact: this is because their country is so much smaller. At one point she was calmly pointing out to me her favorite supermarket and a moment later she started screaming in French to the “nutty driver” next to her. Meanwhile, half of her car is driving on the sidewalk…and I guess that is supposed to be normal. I get along with Audrey quite well–she is super open about everything, full of energy and loves to talk. She is also relieved I am here because she was getting very run down. I met her 20-year-old sister and we got along great. I also met her mother (she speaks French, only) who is very intimidating, but I am sure we will get along once I learn some better French.
Upon my first night in Geneva, they took me to my Swiss Grandma’s restaurant, Chez le Docteur, to eat an authentic, French meal. The atmosphere was like a scene from a movie. It was crammed with people that knew one another who were shouting jokes and sharing laughs from wall to wall as we watched the Olympics downhill racing. Everyone was “getting pissed” and having a great time (meanwhile, I cannot understand a word that is being said, but I’m loving it) as we are casually served a several course meal of dried meat, salad (topped with sun-dried tomatoes stuffed with tuna), frog legs (fresh) and cheese fondue! “VOILA!” –pretty much the only opinion I could offer at the restaurant. The meal was followed by espressos while I shared a glass of fancy liqueur with my Swiss dad, which was like Sambuca, but Swiss style. Turns out, I did not like it very much, but it was a bonding moment so I topped it off with another, “Voila.” Regardless of the language barrier, I left feeling stuffed with exhilaration and delight.
Because I arrived on winter break, I spent most of the week getting to know the family in a fun, but slightly hectic environment. The days consisted of skiing, swimming, ice skating, painting on canvases and going to movies—just what the average family does on a week off. This gave me the perfect opportunity to see how the family interacts with on another. One of my biggest concerns is that I would come to find very busy parents and passive children, but on the contrary, they appear very involved in each other’s lives.
I get along with the kids very well. The littlest, Cassie, is 4 and has taken to me the most. They said she is super stubborn with her English and refuses to speak it, but when we are alone she speaks English most of the time. Lilly, 7 years old, is very active and artistic. She is in dance, tennis, swimming and piano lessons and is always making me creative presents, even decorating my door before I arrived. And Eliot, 10 years old, is a very smart, sweet boy. His room is full of buildings and bridges he has built with legos (one including the Eiffel Tower) and he is very up on his technology–actually, they all are.
My family had a weekend excursion planned to some fancy ski resort and Audrey was not sure if there was room for me. Come to find out later, a few other families brought their Au Pairs along (apparently this is a hot career in Switzerland) to watch the kids while they went skiing so she was kicking herself for leaving me behind. No worries on my behalf because I had my own weekend trip planned….