Things that make us go hmmm…

Things are getting Christmassy around here which is really, really exciting. I’m getting the impression that Switzerland delivers in a big way for Christmas. 

Festive prettiness is happening everywhere. It’s so great!

We’re talking massive portable generators appearing here and there to help create refrigeration for outdoor ice rinks where no rink was before. 

I anticipate the next few posts may have a strong Christmas theme and so I thought I’d make some effort to do a non-Christmas post before I inundate you with decked halls. 

Every now and then we find ourselves perplexed. Less so than when we first arrived and were in a constant state of WTF!?

I feel as though we’ve settled into a good groove now and (almost) pass as locals. Perhaps it is that settled place that allows us to stop and observe some of the everyday nuances that are so different from home. 

Take soldiers for instance. Bragg Creek has a notable lack-of soldiers so I admit that I am far from an expert. But I do know that fire fighters and police officers would never be seen drinking while in uniform. I assumed the same to be true for soldiers. 

Not here…all* men are trained as part of the Swiss Army. (*there are exceptions that I can go into detail on another time but you get the point; big army, able to mobilize quickly.) Every now and then you see lots of them coming and going. This was not something I expected to see…

My most sincere apologies to this soldier if I just outed him and he loses rank.

Perhaps it is just a general acceptance here that adults can drink and remain civilized at the same time. Like booze at the hockey rinks and the complete absence of crazy parents. Why is North America so different?

I tell you another way we’re different…our liberal-mindedness, or lack-there-of when compared to our European counterparts. 

This advertising campaign caught my eye the other day. 

Hard to miss, we see these larger-than-life posters every time we’re at our bus stop, so a lot.

The ad campaign features the same woman in intimate exchanges with 3 different men. 3 DIFFERENT MEN! Good for her!!

The ads are for the Swiss Safe Sex campaign. I think the ads are fantastic. Having dabbled in the advertising world  myself for a few years I can say with some confidence that there are not a lot of clients who would be bold enough to run a campaign this brazen back home. And yet this campaign truly reflects real life for some. 

Well, I was just getting used to this racy campaign installation when I came across this one…

Whoa! Same guy, two different partners, one female and one male.

Well done Switzerland! No prudish judgement or tsk-tsking. Just confident, in your face advertising. And from what I can tell, no one is losing their shit over it. Could you imagine if this campaign ran back home!? (Oh I wish it would, if just for the reactions!)

The other bits that make us ponder are more subtle, the kind that sneak up on you, kind of like climbing stairs. 

Here, you set off to find an address. It is on the second floor and you say to yourself “best take the stairs, we all know there is cheese and chocolate in our future.” So up you go. But after a while you find yourself thinking “dang! When did I get so out of shape? Why is this so hard?”

Because in Switzerland, they lie to you about what floor something is on. The second floor is actually the third floor. The third floor is really the fourth and so on. It is very confusing when riding the escalators in a department store, certain you’re on the floor for housewares only to discover that you’ve still got one more floor to go. Here, ground level is floor zero. Up to the next level is arriving at the first floor. 

I have yet to find out how they deal with the thirteenth floor but something tells me they handle it much better than in North America where we all pretend we’ve forgotten how to count in tall buildings. 

Between the doors that all open the wrong way – pull to exit a building, push to get in, and the weird numbering of floors, you can appreciate just how much time I spend feeling confused and perplexed as to why my thighs are burning. 

The fact that I giggle at signage and stop to photograph it may keep me from ever fitting in as a true local.

But fitting in means something entirely different here. Diego’s class picture arrived in the mail today. This may be one of the very best souvenirs from our time here.

There’s only 1 Swiss kid in the entire class. Can you spot him? Hint, he’s also the Canadian one.

These are the kids/folks D spends his day with. The buddies who call out “hoy” to him at the train station when we run into them. As you can see, his class ranges in age from 9 (I think) to close to 20? Funny how they put the bigs guys right up front. They’re D’s favourite for a good game of soccer at recess. Evidently they’re pretty good; go figure. 

The United Nations effect of this class warms my heart so much. Brazil, Sri Lanka, Syria, Iraq, Italy, Ukraine, Thailand, Ghana, Eritrea, France, and one little Swiss/Canadian. 

Our great big world has all of a sudden become so much smaller and we are so very thankful. 

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