Thought it was time for an update on my German-learning progress. I started a German beginners course a few weeks ago, and now spend four hours a week at night school bashing my head against German grammar in the convivial company of my classmates. We are a very mixed group, containing 3 Brits, 3 Italians, 2 Serbians, a Slovakian, a Chinese chap who doesn't speak much English, a Nigerian, a Portuguese and a lady from Thailand. Selecting a suitable neighbour to share German dictionaries with is therefore a challenge - the German for vicino (Italian) is nahe, in case you were wondering. Everyone is very nice, and the camaraderie of bewilderment should not be underestimated as a means to bridge our complex language and cultural barriers.
My German has now progressed to the point that I can order a coffee, decline an accompanying pastry, ask how much things cost, exchange greetings with our cleaner and explain that I have only been in Switzerland for 6 weeks so I don't know enough German for anything else. One thing I have not learnt yet, but which is becoming a pressing need, is how to give directions. Apparently I have the sort of face which people like to approach in the street - this is not new news to me, but it throws up some interesting opportunities to cause well meaning chaos. Now that the weather is a bit warmer I am continually waylaid by Swiss people in need of a map. My pointing skills are legendary, however, this week's task is to learn how to differentiate between first and second on the right/left.