German without Germany

Fiona Money

I’ve been unintentionally avoiding Germany ever since I started learning the language.

From Wiener Schnitzel…

Having started learning German at university in Edinburgh, I couldn’t wait for the chance to spend my third year of study in an actual German-speaking country (somehow, the occasional trip to the only German bakery in the city didn’t have quite the same effect). And then I found myself not in Germany but in Austria, a country I knew nothing about beyond The Sound of Music. After the initial shock of ending up in a place where I was supposed to be able to speak the language (supposed being the key word), I grew to love the peculiarities of Austrian German and immersed myself in the country’s quirks, which I was assured were very distinct from those of Germany. And also, it turned out, very distinct from The Sound of Music.

… to fondue and raclette

Fast-forward two years, past a final year spent frantically trying to catch up on German news and a master’s immersed in trans-regional literature, and I wanted to get back to a country where I could greet people in German again. That’s where Supertext came in – and I’ve now found myself once again skirting round Germany itself to land in yet another different German-speaking culture. I can’t wait to fall into the everyday peculiarities of life in Zurich, to swap ‘Grüß Gott’ for ‘Grüezi’ and marvel at how close the ski slopes are. Though I’ll be happier once I can be sure of understanding a little more Schwyzerdütsch.

Superfun

Of course, it helps that I can go to work every day and find myself dealing with everything from Swiss geography to the Swedish concept of lagom, with people who are even more interested in language than I am. I’m happy to be in a city that is not only eerily clean, but also offers the chance to spend time with some of the things I love most – and may encourage me to actually learn Italian this time. It looks like Germany will have to wait.

Picture: Supertext



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