you can’t become Swiss

You can’t become Swiss, no matter how well you pronounce “chuchichäschtli.” By the way, that’s a “kitchen cupboard” if you don’t live here, and if you do then you are already sick and tire of people asking you to try to say it correctly!

When I first moved to Switzerland I figured I would be making jokes and blending in within a year. HA! It’s been ten months and I barely understand the sermon topics each Sunday. This was a bit of a blow to my ego, but I’m adjusting. I have a new aspiration; someday I want to be the cute old lady that says everything wrong but people love. If I can accomplish that in the rest of my lifetime, then I will be content! 😉

Yes, I am exaggerating a bit, but I have to say this; it is important to set realistic, obtainable goals. German is a difficult language to learn, and it isn’t the one that you need to be a “fake Swiss.” To be fake Swiss you need to speak Swiss German, and to speak Swiss German you also need to speak High German. It’s the devils circle, but ride it we must. Basically you must learn two languages, and when you do you still won’t be a real Swiss!  My new last name is German, not Swiss German. Our family name came up in a conversation with a neighbour a few months back, and she was quick to point out that it was a German name, and that my husband was of German decent, NOT Swiss. Later that evening I asked him when his family immigrated to Switzerland. He paused and thought for a moment, and then said, “oh… I don’t know, a couple of hundred years ago, I guess.” My mouth dropped open. My family has been in the USA for over a hundred and fifty years and we consider ourselves 100% “real” American. But, I am married to a Swiss man who is still categorised as a German immigrant. I had to laugh, and to come to realise that, if my husband’s family has been here for over 200 years and people still consider them German, I need to give up any of my grand ideas of becoming Swiss.

To be real Swiss is to have an unending line of patriarch and matriarchs on both sides, born in the mountains, raised on cheese, alphorn music and skis! I will never be a real Swiss, but hey, maybe I can be a cute grandma with a lovable accent.



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