Posts Tagged ‘german’

Canton Aargau. What’s not to love?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

By Chantal Panozzo

Canton Aargau. A place to call home?

Canton Aargau. A place to call home?

When expats are choosing where to settle in Switzerland, Canton Aargau is never high on their list. They want to live in Zurich, Geneva, or Basel—not in little towns in the middle of nowhere. And who can blame them?

When I moved to Switzerland, I had no idea that I would be living in Canton Aargau, otherwise known as the Alabama of Switzerland. I just thought, I’m 15 miles from Zurich, how different can it be?

Well, life is a little different, even a few miles west of Zurich. Not everyone is a redneck in Canton Aargau, but people tend to be a bit old-fashioned here. Kids still come home for lunch. People can still smoke in bars and restaurants. And English is not as prevalent as it is in Canton Zurich.

Even though I often get made fun of for living here, living in Canton Aargau has its advantages: there are fewer expats and thus permits are easier to obtain. You are forced to learn German because your survival depends on it. And there’s something to be said for living in a traditional Swiss village versus a big international city like Zurich. You get the real deal Switzerland.

Another advantage to living in Canton Aargau is that unlike living in Canton Zurich, you do not need to pass a German exam to obtain that coveted C Permit. In Zurich, you must pass the A2 German test or higher to obtain your C Permit. For most people, this shouldn’t be a problem, but still, the test means time and money (about CHF 300).

Canton Aargau is also interesting because of its many castles. From the castle ruin in Baden to the completely furnished castle in Wildegg, the area can be fun to explore. You can even hike from castle to castle. For example, Lenzburg castle is only a 3-kilometer hike from Wildegg castle. And both castles can be toured and also have beautiful gardens.

Sometimes I think life would be easier in one of Switzerland’s “big cities” for an expat, but still. I’ll always have a special feeling for my Swiss home. I even own a Canton Aargau flag now. Yes.

What canton do you live in?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Language Confusion in Switzerland

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Language confusion in Switzerland is nothing new

Language confusion in Switzerland is nothing new

By Chantal Panozzo

Language can be a tricky thing in a country like Switzerland. After all, the tiny country with a population of 7 million has four official languages and many more unofficial dialects. In case you find it confusing, here’s a little guide to help you understand what region you’re in:

Here’s how you know you’re in the German-speaking region:

-People from Germany are as confused as you.

-They write in one language and talk in another.

-There is a lot of fog.

-People don’t understand the people from the next town over because the dialects are that different. But this is on purpose. Secrecy is big in Switzerland—not just in banks.

-How you say “hello” is analyzed to determine what town you’re from.

-If you are not on time you are not worthy.

-Everyone’s eating either wurst or wurst.

Here’s how you know you’re in the French-speaking region:

-The written language is exactly like the spoken one.

-The French-speaking Swiss don’t understand Swiss German and this frustrates them. The Swiss Germans like it this way.

-Everyone speaks French or French.

-Almost every town is on a lake.

-The French Swiss make the watches. The German Swiss obey them.

Here’s how you know you’re in the Italian-speaking region:

-People talk with their hands.

-The buildings are colors like pink, yellow, and orange.

-People eat pizza or pizza.

-Many speak German as a second language. The German that the actual Germans can understand.

-You can actually see the sun.

Here’s how you know you’re in the Romansh-speaking region:

-You think you hear Italian. You think you hear German. You think you hear Latin. But you don’t understand anything.

-There are no young people around.

-You are in the Alps.

-There are a lot of cows.

-Everyone speaks at least one other language.

How about you? How do you determine what section of Switzerland you’re in?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Five Ways to Improve Your Language Skills

Thursday, April 8th, 2010
Photo by Kathy of Two Fools in Zurich Blog

Photo by Kathy of Two Fools in Zurich Blog

By Chantal Panozzo

Living in Switzerland can be challenging when it comes to learning a language—especially for those in the Swiss-German speaking region. And like most things in Switzerland, language classes can be prohibitively expensive. So what’s an overwhelmed expat to do? Actually, there are many ways to learn a language—without spending much money.

One. Watch TV. Pick a show that will use language in a way that’s not overwhelming. A good example in German is Bauer Sucht Frau. This show is all about farmers looking for love. The language is simple because people are meeting each other (think Chapter 1 of a German book with a little more spice) and subtitles often sum up what people are saying. Many reality shows are good for this reason.

Two. Rent a movie. Another way to learn is to rent or buy a movie that you know well (think a movie you can practically quote—for me, this would be The Sound of Music) and watch it in the language you’re trying to learn. Just try not to be thrown off by the unfamiliar voice coming out of your favorite actor’s mouth.

Three. Language exchange. There are always locals that want to improve their English and will gladly speak their language with you in return. Message boards are often filled with people looking to swap languages.

Four. Don’t switch to English. This sounds obvious, but it is easy to do, especially when the person you’re trying to speak German or French to switches to English first. While the cashier, train conductor, or storekeeper changes to English, continue in their language. As a native English speaker, sometimes you have to fight to speak foreign. Don’t give in.

Five. Read. Some of the best things to start reading are the local freebie papers like 20 Minuten or Blick am Abend. These are like the German equivalent of Star Magazine. Lots of photos and graphics to help you and your comprehension out. And a little gossip never hurt anyone. Especially when it’s being used for educational reasons.

What has helped you learn a language in Switzerland?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin