Showing posts from 2013

English and Games

Observation #1I have noticed one big difference between Swiss and English class.We all know what an English class looks like when there is no teacher.Fights, weapons, wars, riots, shouting.I was surprised to see that Swiss children without a teacher behaved differently. One could almost call it a boring past-time, but it is something more. They love to play with paper and pen.
  They fold paper into magical things, they play battleships, noughts and crosses, and many other games, and they are very good at them.Observation #2The official languages in Switzerland are Italian, French and German. Romansh has a special status. Secretly French, Italian and German parts don't really like each other. Officially, the government insists that these three and only these three languages guarantee a strong constitution.English is a bit of a problem. On one hand the government stopped the only English speaking radio, they translate all the English movies into French and German and they say the En…

The Love thing

There are a lot of things that I do not understand and the love thing is one of them.I mean, there is this girl in our class. Her name is Izzy. She's nothing extraordinary. Long hair. Long legs. Big smile. Just like any other girl.Mark has been going all gooey around her. He says he's got a problem with parents, with math, and with his love life. What?
  One day Mark and Izzy started to think up names for 'their children'. What? If somebody asks me I would say first they need to establish a language that they can communicate in. Izzy is Portuguese and Mark is Polish and their English is not that great.Suddenly Henry tells me that he is in love with Izzy's easy smile. What?Mark and Henry confront Izzy to see which one of them is more cute. Izzy says that they are both very cute and she points out to little Jack and says that he is also very cute.This causes a little problem.Who else does Izzy think is cute? Does Mark win or does Henry win? Why can't Izzy commit?O…

The riot

When the boys are changing for their gym or swimming lesson, the changing rooms are a riot.This is mainly because the boys are on their own, without supervision. It might have something to do with changing clothes and adrenaline before and after sport. I'm not sure. Maybe it's just the way that boys are.I am a peaceful kind of guy and riots unsettle me. I try to keep away from them and neutral like Switzerland.To say the truth, screaming, shouting and banging lockers are not my thing. But when you are changing for sports this cannot be avoided.
  I've noticed today that somebody's sport shoe landed quite painfully on my shin. I thought it was a mistake. When another shoe landed in the same shin I started to feel pain and I thought that somebody maybe not aiming well.When yet another sport shoe landed on the same shin as mine i was very positive that it was not a mistake and somebody is actually aiming very well indeed. Unfortunately this is not a situation when you try …


This is the weekend of the big event.Our friends 50th birthday. My parents decided to drive from Geneva to Hamburg. IT was not a problem as we literally live in a car.I'm in charge of the GPS, I read books, I watch movies and I'm in charge of catering (I tell my parents I'm hungry, and we find a nice Marché with all day hot meals).
  I was very worried about the event, but it went well.
  First I learned that if 35 ladies had their hair done at a hairdressers, and there is a torrential rain a gentlemen is required to hold an umbrella above as many of them as possible on their way from the hotel to the bus which was collecting us.Another small problem was the strange, polite and probably social rules around hunger and food.
  I mean, we were all hungry and nice ladies were coming around with trays full of nibbles, but I couldn't for the life in me grab some and simply eat. We were standing around the table and sipping drinks for around an hour when I decided that I can'…

Geneva, London, Geneva

Thursday:Today it was more like:Coppet -> Nyon (School) -> Divonne (France, diesel for car) -> Coppet -> Geneva -> London.Today was a long and interesting day. The most interesting thing was to see our plane from Geneva to London delayed, delayed and delayed until, after we took off, the Geneva airport was closed!See for yourself. Geneva, waiting until the plane finally arrives from Heathrom. Heathrow, sending planes as fast as it can, with full flight departure boards. Friday:It would have been nice to have a lay in after our late arrival yesterday. We had to take our dad to work and therefore woke up very early. The lady at breakfast asked me if I wanted boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, poached eggs or fried eggs. I said Yes. because I was half asleep.
  The adults laughed and said in that order please.
  I did not get this joke at the time as I was concentrating on not falling under the table.
 We had hairdressers and some shopping to do today. We've got a very fancy bir…

Being a French teacher

Our math teacher just came back from a week long meeting.
He is full of innovative ideas.
  One of them today involved me. He was explaining consecutive numbers to Swiss children in French. They did not understand.
I didn't understand whether it was me who didn't understand, the children who didn't understand or the teacher who had forgotten how to teach during the last week.
I may have been the one laughing the loudest. I'm not sure.
  And here comes the innovative idea. The teacher asked me in French whether I knew what consecutive numbers are. I admitted I did.
  Next, he asks me in French to explain consecutive numbers to Swiss children in English.
  At this point I nearly forgot what consecutive numbers are.
  I'm not sure whether the teacher still knew what he was talking about.
  So here I am in front of the whole class, talking, (HEAVEN!!) in English. I said x and x+1
The Swiss children looked at the French speaking math teacher for some clues. At this point, not…

My new friend Diego

Diego doesn't like me.This is because the ski instructor always sends me first.I am not the fastest skier, but he says I have the best technique. We were told skiing is not only about speed but Diego takes great pleasure in overtaking me on our way down the slope. He is not friendly.At all.On our last day we had free rides. I queued for the ski lift with three other boys. Diego was one of them. The others were friends of Diego.
  As we were going to sit on the four seat lift, the three boys pulled back on the last minute. I was left to occupy the four seat lift all on my own.I waved back to my not friends and got ready for a long lonely ascending into the Swiss Alps.It was cold, snowing, and intimidatingly quiet.As the snow was quietly falling and the wind was blowing, I visualised a map of Europe. I thought about where all my friends and family were.
  The closest person was 1000 miles away.
  Here I was ascending the Swiss Alps all on my own.I sat quietly and confidently.I knew my …

Ski Trip Special: Swimming, Night, Outside, -10°C

This was a discipline I did not think I would survive.
Swimming outside at -10*C seemed to have been the highlight of of the ski trip.
  The water was pleasantly warm, but our hair had frost on it.
If I had ever wondered about the expression 'my brain has frozen' I do not need to wonder any more.
  It really did feel like my brain is freezing. My ears were already frozen and my hair was white with icicles. My brain was just about to hibernate when Mateusz, my friend, came up with an excellent idea!
  You need to keep your head underwater as long as possible.
Only come up for a breath if necessary.
Now this has warmed my head, but I've read that after 5 minutes without oxygen the brain suffers serious and possibly irreversible damage.
  This worried me a bit.
There has been a genius in our group. He found a solution.
  It was very simple, and hence the best solution. You would never have guessed!
We simply followed his lead and used our hands to stop the water jets above our hea…


Help!This was the worst part of my Ski Trip. The evening disco.I'm afraid I'm one of the guys who sits in the corner and hopes he is invisible.Dance amazes me. I mean: ARE THERE ANY RULES HERE? COULD ANYONE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE TELL ME HOW TO DANCE?Once I was watching an evening steel drum band in Barbados.
  There was this black man in the shadow of a palm tree and he danced. Boy, did he dance!
  His face had a million emotions, his eyes were closed. His body made slow economical movements and his huge feet size 15 danced in four points of a square: Forward, Right, Back, Left.I thought this was a great style. I practiced it there with my mum and got big cheers from the audience. I thought great! I can dance!Then the leaving party at the end of Year 6 came and I danced my great Caribbean dance. Unfortunately nobody understood the timeless beauty of the moves.They were saying:What are you doing Marcus?Well, this ski trip was the last straw.Observation: Europe does not understand …

Swiss military rules on my school trip

No mobiles
No toys
No electronics
No closing the door
No talking after 10PM
No hidden food
No choice after 7AM: wake up and face 8 hours of skiing
No misbehaving
Everything is compulsory
If it's not compulsory it's forbidden
Alcohol, cigarettes or drugs: you get sent home when saying any of the words
No not complying with rules = Get sent home (Parents collect you)
No fun in any form or shape
Swiss army knives allowed
That's right. I thought to myself, you never know when it might come in handy. SO why not bring it along?

1 week before my Ski Trip Adventure

SundayWe went to Annecy. Lovely sping weather, bit cold. No snow. Seagulls on the lake. Golorious sun.MondayStill no snow. Cloudy. Temperatures about 0*C. School ended early, no music (yay!) . Spring in the air.TuesdayHeavy snow fall, started at 7:30AM. It's -2*C. It's the rush hour in Switzerland. Heavy snow and Rush hour not good combination because road clearing trucks can't do their jobs. Nyon was chaos. Roads were unusable. Interestingly when the roads are all covered with 5 inches of snow we have realized how steep the slope is from the lake to the town. The cars were stuck, slipping, skidding, doing zig zags.Everybody was a bit scared. This is the test of your winter tires, your driving skills and your nerves. We drove around town and looked from all the angles. All the roads looked dangerous and unsuitable for driving. Why were they not treated before I don't know.My french teacher who was traveling from Lausanne, left at 7:45AM and arrived at 9:30AM.Evening: T…

Frosty water fight

Today was another dark frosty morning.I was going to school. It was supposed to be simple. Go and wait in the car.
  As I walked out of the house I noticed a thin layer of ice on the car windows. I decided to be helpful.In our old house where we parked on a hill my mum always said I would be allowed to start a car once we park on a level driveway. Today seemed like a great opportunity.
  We parked on a level driveway, the windows needed defrosting. I know how to start a car.It's simple.I took the car keys and did it. It gave me an extra thrill on a boring school morning. What I did not know at this moment was that the screen wipers were set on rain detection. They were still if there was no rain, and they went mad in a tornado.I suddenly got an even better idea!
  The front window needed a splash of water to help it defrost. The hose pipe seemed like an obvious choice. As I splashed the first drops on the wind screen the wipers started to work, sending all the water back in to my …