So Swiss: 10 Things I’m Loving About Switzerland Now

How ironic it is for me that I haven’t written anything much in detail about my stay in Switzerland for the past 11 months since I arrived. Yes, few more days to go and it’s going to be my first year. There are supposed to be so many stories to tell, as a matter of fact, but then again, the daily run of my life couldn’t seem to accommodate this another new idea in mind.

Until one day, someone asked me this question, “Do you feel your Swissness growing in you?” I couldn’t say the magic word that I ended up replying, “Maybe I’m getting there.”

It could be nice to look back, reflect and write about the events and experiences so I can better appreciate the life I have here and assimilate well into the Swiss culture (before it’s too late?).

I won’t be painting a rosy picture for Switzerland all the time because I’m equally eager to share the rest of the Swiss quirks too! Everything that is Swiss from a Pinay POV, and that Pinay must be, me.

For now though, it’s better to create a good impression first. So here are the ten things I like about Switzerland.

1. Swiss time is really gold.

What time is it, Swiss?

Switzerland is well-known as a watchmaking country. Most of the top-of-the-line, luxurious watch brands in the world originated from here. The Swiss are legendaries for their dedication to detail and accuracy. A luxurious watch for one, comprises of more than 300 precision parts and long hours of meticulous craftsmanship. As Switzerland has a reputation to uphold, it appears to me that everything here has to be in sync and everyone’s wired to be on-time.

Public transportation is one good example. I have always been an avid commuter ever since in the Philippines. Most of the time, I find pleasure in going through the Amazon-like traffic of Manila. Of course, since Manila traffic is very unpredictable, making (valid?) excuses for being late had become a part of the morning routine.

On a side note, I couldn’t entirely blame Christopher Lao for speaking out loud that he should have been informed (that the flooded road is impassable for a car like his) but when you particularly drive around Manila in torrential downpour that day, common sense is a must; and unfortunately his lack thereof, as well as his lame excuses, being seen on national TV has made him become a laughing matter (and lately, an Internet quick sensation).  However here in Switzerland, it’s au contraire. Waking up late can be the only reason for being so, and should foreseen circumstances ever occur, believe me, the Swiss will also inform you beforehand.

Unless there’s a traffic jam, technical problems, bad weather, life emergencies or any uncontrollable situations along the way, which also seldom happen, the buses, trams and trains in Switzerland arrive on-the-dot, and even earlier than usual.  Undoubtedly it’s good I left my Filipino time behind.

A very funny, creative satire on Lao, but, WTH is Christopher Lao? Here’s one for you in YouTube. This ain’t funny if you can’t read/understand Tagalog, so better skip this video. Definitely, in German, Hitler’s expressing seriousness here.

NEXT: The hills are alive.

10 Things I’m Loving Now – chocolates in my bag

Two boys used to go to school together. One of them had a bad habit of stealing the chocolates from his friend’s bag. One day he felt guilty about what he was doing… So he wrote a letter as he didn’t have the courage to confess directly. “I have been stealing your chocolates… I’m sorry for that…’ The other friend smiled reading it, and sent a letter back: “Don’t worry. I know about it… That’s why I keep chocolates in the same place in my bag…’.   – from Paolo Coehlo’s blog

From life’s simple stuff to grandiose pleasures, bring it on!

 

1. Learning French

JUST CAME ACROSS. FrancoPhil, the 2011 French cultural season in the Philippines, is a play on the word “Francophile,” meaning a lover of French culture, and is a celebration of the ties that bind French and Filipino culture. Click on the image to learn more about this event.

Around two years ago, perhaps out of boredom, I decided to take French classes at Alliance Française de Manille, without any plan as to where and how I can apply what I’d learn. Little did I know that it is going to be a starting point to a rather bigger purpose.

I can’t take away the sly grin after reading my first blog post for the Apprendre la langue Française series. Goal A (write an essay in French) will always entail a battle between character accents and phonetic sounds. I was able to do Goal B (watch a full-length French film) and the film I watched, well, was to vivid for kids to enjoy. I’d just faint on the floor if I couldn’t keep up with Goal C (engage into long conversations in French).

When I am too lazy, I nonchalantly talk back, “Est-ce que vous parlez anglais, s’il vous (super) plâit?” English is still sticking out, apparently.

NEXT: Sipping English Breakfast of Tetley Tea

Apprendre la Langue Française (103e partie): la conjonction–que

Source: french.about.com

The French word que, which contracts to qu’ in front of a vowel or mute h, has numerous uses and meanings. This summary includes links to detailed information on each use of que.

Comparative and superlative adverb

Il est plus grand que moi. He is taller than I.

Conjunction

Je pense que tu as raison. I think that you’re right.

Conjunctive phrases

Je l’ai fait parce que j’avais faim.  I did it because I was hungry.

Exclamative adverb

Que tu es grand !  You’re so tall!

Indefinite relative pronoun

Ce que j’aime, c’est l’aventure.  What I love is adventure.

Indirect commands

Que le bonheur vous sourie.  May happiness smile upon you.

Interrogative phrase

Est-ce que tu es prêt ?  Are you ready?

Interrogative pronoun

Que veux-tu ?  What do you want?

Negative adverb

Je n’ai que 10 euros.  I only have ten euros.

Relative pronoun

J’ai perdu le livre que tu m’as acheté.  I lost the book that you bought me.

When the French word que is used as a conjunction, it is equivalent to “that”:

Je pense qu’il a raison.I think (that) he is right.

Nous espérons que tu seras là. We hope (that) you’ll be there.

C’est dommage qu’il ne soit pas prêt. It’s too bad (that) he’s not ready.

Note that “that” is optional in English, but que cannot be omitted.

With verbs of wanting followed by que, the French structure is the same as the above, but the English translation uses an infinitive:

Il veut qu’elle aide.  He wants her to help.

J’aimerais que tu sois là. I would like (for) you to be there.

Que can be used to repeat a previously-stated conjunction (like comme, quand, or si) or conjunctive phrase:

Comme tu es là et que ton frère ne l’est pas…Since you’re here and (since) your brother isn’t…

Je lui ai téléphoné quand j’étais rentré et que j’avais fait mes devoirs. I called him when I got home and (when) I’d done my homework.

Si j’ai de l’argent et que mes parents sont d’accord, j’irai en France l’année prochaine. If I have money and (if) my parents agree, I will go to France next year.

Pour que tu comprennes la situation et que tu sois à l’aise…So that you understand the situation and (so that) you feel comfortable…

Que can begin a clause and be followed by the subjunctive, with various meanings:

Que = whether

Tu le feras, que tu le veuilles ou non.You’ll do it whether you want to or not.

Que tu viennes ou que tu ne viennes pas, ça m’est égal. Whether you come or or not, I don’t care.

Que = so that

Fais tes devoirs, qu’on puisse sortir.Do your homework so that we can go out.

Téléphone-lui, qu’il sache où nous rejoindre. Call him, so that he knows where to meet us.

Que = when

Nous venions de manger qu’il a téléphoné.We had just eaten when he called.

Je travaillais depuis seulement une heure qu’il y a eu un exercice d’évacuation. I had been working for only an hour when there was a fire drill.

Que = third person order

Qu’il pleuve !Let / May it rain!

Qu’elle me laisse tranquille ! I wish she would leave me alone!

Que can be used to emphasize oui or non:

Que oui !

     

Yes indeed! Certainly! You bet!

Que non !  No way! Certainly not! Not at all!

Que can represent something that was just said:

Que tu crois !(informal) That’s what you think!

Que je le fais tout seul ? C’est absurde ! (You think) I should do it all alone? That’s absurd!

Que can be used instead of inversion with direct speech and certain adverbs:

« Donne-le-moi ! » qu’il me dit (me dit-il)

“Give it to me!” he said

Peut-être qu’il sera là (Peut-être sera-t-il là)

Perhaps he will be there

Apprendre la Langue Française (102e partie): le verbe–falloir (usage et conjugaison au présent)

Source: french.about.com 

Falloir is an irregular impersonal French verb that is better known in its conjugated form: il faut. Falloir means “to be necessary” or “to need.” It is impersonal, meaning that it has only one grammatical person: the third person singular. It may be followed by the subjunctive, an infinitive, or a noun:

Il faut partir.  It’s necessary to leave.
Il faut que nous partions.  We have to leave.
Il faut de l’argent pour faire ça.   It’s necessary to have / You need money to do that.

When falloir is followed by an infinitive or noun, it may be used with an indirect object pronoun to indicate who or what needs whatever comes next:

Il faut manger.   It’s necessary to eat.
Il nous faut manger.   We have to eat.
Il faut une voiture.   It’s necessary to have a car.
Il me faut une voiture.   I need a car.

Falloir is used in a number of expressions, including:

ce qu’il faut – what is needed
Il a bien fallu ! – I/We/They had to!
s’il le faut – if (it’s) necessary
Faudrait voir à voir (informal) – Come on! Come off it!
Il faut ce qu’il faut (informal) – You’ve got to do things right

The impersonal pronominal construction s’en falloir means to be missing or short of something, as in “this action did not occur because something was missing”:

Tu as raté son appel, il s’en est fallu de 10 minutes.    You missed his call by 10 minutes.
Je n’ai pas perdu, mais il s’en est fallu de peu.    I very nearly lost (I didn’t lose, but it was close).

Conjugations
Present tense   il faut
Imperfect   il fallait
Future   il faudra

Apprendre la Langue Française (101e partie): reconnaître les phrases

Source: Berlitz French Grammar Handbook

A sentence is a spoken or written utterance that has a subject and a predicate.  When talking we often say things that are not sentences, but in writing we usually try to use complete sentences.  The way a sentence is put together is known as its syntax.

Generally speaking the subject is the word or phrase whose action or state the sentence is describing.

Le ferry part de Douvres à sept heures. The ferry leaves Dover at seven o’clock.

Nous sommes heureux de partir en vacances. We are happy to be going on vacation.

Il pleut. It is raining.

The verb may be used in a form known as the passive, which means that the subject of the verb, instead of doing the action of the verb, becomes the receiver of the action.

Tous les passagers sont accueillis par l’equipe du bateau. All the passengers are welcomed by the crew of the ship.

Sometimes the subject is omitted but understood. This happens in command forms.

Prenez vos places dans le restaurant, s’il vous plaît.  Take your places in the restaurant, please.

The predicate consists of the whole of the rest of the sentence, excluding the subject. It must have at least a main verb, that is, a verb in one of the simple tenses. This verb agrees with the subject; that is its form changes to match the subject.

Le bateau arrive. The ship arrives.

Les passagers regagnent leurs voitures. The passengers return to their vehicles.

However, most predicates have more than the minimum requirement of a main verb.

Les passagers regagnent leurs voitures avec impatience. The passengers return to their vehicles impatiently.

There are three types of complete sentence:

  • statements, which are the basic form;
  • direct questions;
  • commands.

All three types must have a main clause; they may also have any number of subordinate clauses.

A main clause is the key grammatical element of a sentence to which any other parts are connected. It can often stand by itself, though of course it may not make much sense on its own.  The main clause does not necessarily open the sentence, though it often does.

Les Robinson cherchent une boulangerie. The Robinsons look for a bakery.

vis-à-vis

Une fois qu’ils sont sortis du port, les Robinson ont cherché une boulangerie, parce qu’ils adorent le pain français. Once they are out of the clock area, the Robinsons look for a bakery, because they love French bread.

A subordinate clause is always dependent on a main clause, whose meaning it completes or expands. It is linked to the main clause by one of three types of word:

  • a subordinating conjunction (such as une fois que and parce que);
  • a question word, such as (where), pourquoi (why), quand (when), or combien (how much); and
  • a relative pronouns such as qui (who/which), or que (whom/which).

John Robinson demande à un passant où se trouve la boulangerie la plus proche. John Robinson asks a passerby where the nearest bakery is.

Le passant, qui habite le quartier, donne les indications au visiteur anglais.  The passerby, who lives in the neighborhood, gives directions to the English visitor.