Friday, November 30, 2007

Feast or Famine on the Job Hunt

Hi!
I've been busy on the job hunt recently, and it's yielded some results: today I started my recently acquired job as "Putzfrau" (cleaning lady). Now, cleaning is alright. I don't mind doing it, and it pays pretty well as far as very part time jobs go. I'm only supposed to do it 2 hours a week, although today it took me over 2.5 hours! Bad Putzfrau!! Very bad! I will have to hustle a little more next week to keep it down to two hours, but hopefully that will be no problem if I get into a routine. Monday I have my long awaited Starbucks interview, and I still don't know if it will be in German or English. We're hoping and praying for English, but I'm mentally preparing for German, running over all my german pleasantries, and what not. Even at my best though, it won't redeem me if they are hoping for someone who is reasonably competent in both languages. All my Swiss friends are sure it'll be no problem, and they think being a native English speaker is a big mark in my favor. We shall see. :) Then Wednesday, I have ANOTHER interview--sort of. I'm going to work proofreading a health book for the morning to "see how it goes." If they hire me, it'll be for my American English sensibilities (and I'm nothing if not thoroughly American), but the company hadn't seen my resume or even talked to me about my supposed experience in writing and editing before telling me to come for the morning! I've sent my resume now though, and of course it's loaded with writing and editing experience. So, between these three opportunites, things are looking up on the job front. Thanks to those of you who prayed I would find something, and that I would trust God in the meantime. :) I appreciate it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So much to say!

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

I hope you enjoyed a cozy holiday! I missed being at home with you all, but I had a good Thanksgiving too. I have a lot to tell you all since it's been so long! Gregg visited last weekend, I saw the alps (again), visited the church where John Calvin used to preach, met some North Carolinans and a pro basketball player from the Midwest, baked some pies and managed to get lost for an hour in a pea-sized town in Germany.

Gregg and I didn't do as much as we had planned while he was here. He was coming from a week in Paris and was a little tired of traveling and eating foamed goat cheese with his French friends, so we had dinner at Burger King (it cost us a whopping 35 Sfr. too!). We stayed up till 2 talking and the next day decided to not do much. We went for a walk up to the park and found the first veritable evidence of snow on a car parked at the grocery store. It wasn't much, but it was enough to make a snowball or two (see video).

Hey, did you know that in Geneva there are some really big statues of the major Reformers guys (Zwingli and Calvin, etc.)?? I didn't know either, until this week. In honor of Thanksgiving I skipped classes to go to Geneva with some people from church. I think it rained the entire time we were there, but we tramped around town anyway, checked out the cathedral where John Calvin used to preach and the old city that somebody rightly pointed out felt a bit like Paris. There was a building named Alabama too, after a Confederate pirate ship! Apparently, their was some international dispute involving the ship, and a Swiss body mediated. Or something like that.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSS_Alabama

We stayed in a youth hostel Thursday night, which was better than I imagined hostels to be. Our door locked, and the breakfast lady let me have extra orange juice, so I thought it was pretty positive experience. It seems like I've known some people who stayed in youth hostels for their honeymoons. The orange juice was pretty good, granted, but still...I'm not sure I would recommend hostels for a honeymoon (in case you were considering it). But anyhooo. Geneva. There are a lot of hotels in Geneva, and a lot of shoe stores too!! But my travel buddies didn't have a proper appreciation for shoes, so I admired from afar. The best part was the drive home through the foothills along the French/Swiss border. If it weren't for all the people I like the best living in Oregon, those hills would be on my list of places to settle down in, with some cows and a cat or two.

As nice as the trip to Geneva was, it didn't constitute proper Thanksgiving festivities, so I joined about 30 other people for Thanksgiving dinner Saturday night. I finally baked some pies. =) And I listened to some goofy Bing Crosby song about promenading a turkey. I had an extra pie Sunday, so I took it to Daniel's family. My phone died on the way and I had a little trouble remembering my way to their house from the train station. I set off in the right general direction, but I quickly found I could only remember about half the route, and I couldn't remember the road name either (German names!), although I thought I might recognize it if I saw it. An hour later, still lost, I stumbled into the main part of town, where I found a map. I still couldn't say the street name for sure, but looking at the map helped narrow the possibilities to a very small vicinity, and I gave myself 10 minutes to find it; otherwise, I was going home. I did happen across it, and they were surprised to see me, hours later than expected (I had missed my train after church in the first place because I couldn't run to the station with a pie in hand). So we had pie, finally, and Dan's brother informed me he "prefers the German" version of apple pie. Sigh. After all that effort...

This week I am trying to finish all my school work for the rest of the term so I can focus on other things, like Christmas presents and getting ready to head home. I'll let you know how that goes. It involves a paper, preparing for a few tests, and a lot of reading, so don't hold your breath or anything. It's just a nice idea and potentially good incentive for me. That's it for now. I'll try to add a slide show here for you (it includes music). It's a work in progress, but it takes a while to upload video, so I will have to work on it more tomorrow. Civil Society class early in the morning tomorrow, you know!

video

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Poll Results

Hi Friends!
Well, as you can see, the poll results strongly suggest you think I should stay here in Switzerland rather than going to another school for a semester abroad. I have a meeting with my advisor in two hours to discuss my options. There was apparently some confusion over the point of the poll. Some people thought that I was making this a simple majority rule, democratic decision. That's an interesting idea, but sorry--that's not how it works. I'll take the votes into consideration along with some other factors. Then I will vote, and my vote counts for 50. I'll keep you posted on what I decide, and just so you can all enjoy the poll split and guessing at who voted for what, I'll leave the results up for a few days.

My other significant news is that I have an important presentation Saturday and I'm still not finished with it. All my spare time until Saturday morning will be devoted to that. Then AFTER my presentation, the real fun starts when Gregg gets here!! We're going to a Christmas market, a castle and maybe go-cart driving too. Should be fun.

Starbucks called last night and I have an interview for December 3rd!!! Woohooo!! Until then I will be practicing all my cashier-related German sentences and rehearsing my lines about why I want to work at Starbucks.

I would write more, but I've got things to do, places to go, people to see, as Grandpa always says...
Talk to you more later. Love and miss you all so much! Can't wait to come home for Christmas.

steph

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Don't worry!!! I'm still alive!


I have to apologize for my lack of bloggage the last few weeks. I have a good reason for it, you see. I was going to blog...I really was. But I got distracted, had a presentation, saw a hedge hog, lost at go-cart racing and bought a really cute top, and in the midst of all that important work, blogging got left behind. But, suffice it to say I have emerged from my grave and scholarly endeavors and can spare some time to write now. However...since it is midnight, I'm going to give you the quick update version.

1) This has been the week of wildlife. I saw a fox and a hedgehog AND there was a guy with a cage of bunnies on the train-A big cage! It made me feel better about the odd things I have taken on the train, particularly that day last week when a friend and I carried 3 big pumpkins on the train. Speaking of pumpkins, on Halloween, and the same day I saw the bunnies, I saw a guy who looked just like Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hallow. (for the unfamiliar: http://www.bartleby.com/310/2/2.html) He was extremely tall and gangly, with a big, bird-like nose and green eyes, and though I had never seen Ichabod Crane myself, I had heard he still travels between here and his native Hudson River valley, teaching school and giving music lessons. He got on at the musik akademie train stop, and I could hear him humming to himself in the next seat and it only confirmed my suspicion that this was most likely Ichabod himself. Plus he was dressed like an American. I was concerned about where he was headed on this Halloween night. I wanted to warn him. "Don't go to the party! Or if you do, don't flirt with the girl, or don't ride a horse home!! But he was preoccupied with the very large bench he was carrying (really!--also on the train), so I didnt bother him. Late Halloween night I had 4 or 5 little ghosts and goblin trick or treaters, and as I dropped snickerdoodles in their sacks, I heard in the distance the hoofs of two horses, racing along the cobblestone street, and I heard a mighty crash, and I haven't seen Ichabod on the train since. But I did see a hedge hog. So I think it is possible that the hedgeless horseman turned Ichabod Crane into a hedge hog that night.

2) I have the possibility of spending a semester "abroad" in this program. My options include several universities in South Africa (which I have not yet investigated), or a semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which is one of the schools that so shortsightedly turned down my application earlier this year. Please take time to vote in my poll about what I should do concerning semester abroad!!
pros/cons at this point, color coordinated for your convenience:
UW-Madison Pros: One of the best African Studies schools; among the oldest in the states; snow; I could work (positive for the cash flow!); I would live with Chantelle, my British friend from here; larger program, more class options; potentially good for making important connections for further graduate study; cheapest possible way to take classes at a US school--pay Swiss tuition fees and go to a US school. That is a great deal.
UW-Madison cons: It could be constituted "wasting Europe time;" wouldn't help my Deutsche much, opportunity cost of studying in South Africa.

South Africa Pros: Study in Africa would be an interesting experience, more than Wisconsin, I venture to declare; Opportunity to travel in Southern Africa (maybe); potentially establish good internship or job connections.

South Africa Cons: Don't know much about the schools on the list; I hear parts of South Africa are a bit rough; would be going "all by myself" (and I know that doesn't seem like much of a problem, considering I did move to Switzerland by myself, and at least in South Africa they speak my language); no working possibilities, as far as I know.

Not doing a semester "abroad" pros: can focus on getting to know people here, learning German, traveling in Europe; Cons: no additional connections or opportunity to get to know other people in other programs (including teachers), potentially narrow view of the field as a result.
So there you have it! Your opinion matters, so be sure to vote, or post your advice in a comment.

3)GREGGORY IS COMING TO VISIT! (Insert celebration dance here.)

4) I went go-cart driving with a bunch of guys yesterday for my friend's birthday party (I was the only girl invited...what do you think that means? I think it either means they were counting on me to bring cake, or I should wear pink more often so there is less confusion). Anyway, go-carts are fun, but be forewarned, it messes up one's hair, with the helmet and all. I lost the race, unfortunately. My fastest lap was still slower than all their fastest laps. But in my defense I hadn't driven a go-cart in about 10 years, and they go all the time, and furthermore I was being careful because I am not totally sure my insurance covers me here....so...I thought it best to err on the side of caution. 'sides. Someone had to lose, and I didn't want any of them to feel bad...getting beat by a girl and all. But next time...NEXT time...no more Mr. nice guy.

I have quite nearly finished the Noll book on colonial America (I'll write y'all a review and post it on here). Other recent procrastination tactics have included writing stories in ecology class, staying up until the wee hours of the morning watching the democratic debates (go Obama), shopping at the fall fair, and looking for work. The latter is only half procrastination. I really could use a job. I applied at Starbucks this week, and I hope it works out. My German is one major deterrent I'm afraid, but I talked with the store manager, a sympathetic ex-pat who encouraged me to apply anyway, so that sounds promising.

Well, I am sure other interesting things have happened, but I can't think of any at the moment. I will try to write more often. Until then, all my love.

steph

Hold your horses, y'all

I promise I am updating my blog...right now in fact! At this very moment...
So be patient!! And know that I am alive and well, and I FINALLY have internet at home.

steph