Tag Archives: Thoughts

Short term memory and luck

3 Nov

One week from now (depending on when you are reading this), I will be sitting in an exam hall in Switzerland tearing my hair out while trying to pass my German exam. When I entered the exam, I made the mistake of thinking that I have all the time in the world to study for it. But time goes by so quickly that I don’t feel like I have had time to think let alone study for it between then and now.

I am all to aware that there is not so much time left and I am in that awkward place that everyone finds themselves in just before taking an exam. I feel like there is not a lot more that I can learn in the next week that will mean the difference between a pass or fail and I just want the whole thing to be over. I am sure that there is a language that has a word that describes this feeling but we don’t have an english translation for it. If anyone is aware of such a word then please get in contact with me to let me know what it is.

Perhaps it is a mistake though to have this feeling. When I took an exam about two years ago, I also found myself in this place. I was ready to give up learning until someone convinced me that I would be able to learn a lot in a week. I didn’t really believe her but carried on studying for a week. It turned out in the exam that a few of the words that I had learnt in the last fews days came up in the exam. That ended up being the difference between a pass or fail.

So now maybe I am in another place. I am in a place where I am relying heavily on my short term memory and a big, fat slice of luck landing on my desk in a week. We all need a bit of luck but a last little push to help me over the finish line is probably just as advisable.

Does it matter if I don’t pass this exam? Essentially no. I am doing it to help my chances in the job market but mainly for my own satisfaction and to prove to people that you can learn new things, even languages, when you are over the age of 30. However, I want to finally draw a line under this so that I can move on to learn more things that people advise you not to do when you are over a certain age. Plus I am not sure that I can physically prepare myself for resitting exams in January.

So please think about and pray for my short term memory in this last week of preparations. Failing that, please send me a big, fat slice of luck!img_2870

Full recovery

23 Oct

After almost six months, one MRI scan and too many physiotherapy sessions to count, my knee is finally healed. What started off as an innocuous trip which affected my knee when I was out running in March has taken a lot of time and effort to put it right.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining (but I probably will sound like I am) but it does feel strange to have be able to walk and run and not have any pain in my right knee. It is scary how quickly you get used to pain and how it becomes a part of your life on a daily basis.

Perhaps part of my long recovery was my fault. I should have gone straight to a doctor or a medical professional when my knee started hurting. Instead I “rested” for a while and then carried on. In future, I will just go straight to a doctor. The longer recovery time is not worth it.

I found the whole of the summer to be completely frustrating. The weather has been great and I had the target of getting myself fit again this year. But that just hasn’t been possible. It’s been a pain (literally and metaphorically) not to be able to be exercise as much as I wanted to. And then there was the heart-sinking moment, when the doctor told me it was time to have an MRI and then operations were talked about. I can’t imagine being on crutches and going through an even tougher rehabilitation process.

Now it is autumn (and now I am going to sound like I am complaining again…) and the weather is starting to turn colder and I know that my time is limited for runs and bike rides outside. It seems to be one frustration after another. I am almost 90% sure that I have decided to buy a season swimming ticket so I can improve my fitness over the winter and strengthen my knee even more without putting strain on it.

I was hoping to complete an ultra marathon in 2019 but I think that will have to be put back to 2020 now. I don’t want to push myself too far and injure myself again. The cycle of frustration needs to stop!

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The Problem with My Accent

22 Aug

I have never thought that my lovely Northern English accent was much cause for concern. But lately, living in Switzerland has made me more aware about accents and how I speak.

I have recently upped my German learning intensity and I have been taking classes online with native German speakers, who live in Germany. I have been more than a bit surprised that all of them (without exception) have commented on my German accent. All of them describe me as having a Swiss-German accent. This is strange because as soon as I talk to a Swiss person they will say that I have an English accent when I speak in German.

I’m not so naive to think that I have been speaking the equivalent of The Chancellor’s German but I have still be shocked about how noticeable it is that I haven’t learnt my German in Germany.

One of the teachers that I had a lesson with this week gave me the feedback that she “enjoyed my unique British-Swiss-German accent”. I’m speechless. Is British-Swiss-German even an actual thing? Or have I mistakenly started a whole new dialect all by myself?

I think I have picked up some of the vowel sounds from Swiss-German, which are quite different to standard German, because I hear these sounds all the time when I speak to people in Switzerland.

I also have problems with my vowels in English when I speak to non-native speakers. The vowel sounds that I use tend to be longer in words like ‘lunch’ and I have made a few people confused when I have said things because my accent isn’t 100% like The Queen’s. Some have even asked me how is a certain word meant to be said. To which I have replied that how I have said it IS the correct way to say it. I refuse to modify my accent – I have been working on refining it to its current state for the best part of 35 years.

Sometimes I think that a lot of the stigma related to accents is down to snobbery and nothing more. And while I have been teased about the way I say certain words in English and now in German, perhaps it’s not my accent that is the problem. Perhaps having a unique and distinct accent is something that people should be proud of instead of thinking it as a negative thing.

However, I would like to make it clear that I am officially the founder of the British-Swiss-German accent and you heard it in all of its uniqueness here first.

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On the move…

6 Aug

In the current heatwave that we are having, it’s best to stay indoors and do as little as possible. Unfortunately, it has been virtually impossible for me to do this this week because it has been moving week. This has involved carrying heavy boxes down never-ending flights of stairs for what feels like a lifetime.

I knew that I owned a lot of books but physically carrying each and every one of them down the stairs in this heat has made me realise how impossibly long my to-read list is. The plus side is that if I do manage to read all of these books, I will definitely be able to win a series of Mastermind.

It is a long and boring task but it had to be done. I am now adjusting to life in a much bigger apartment and not knowing that I have unpacked properly and what has been left in a bag that will become the study because I don’t quite know where it “belongs” yet. It could take a while before I settle in completely. Just today, for instance, I got off the bus and immediately started walking in the other apartment and then realised that I don’t live there anymore.

Aside from the arduous task of unpacking and finding a place for our belongings in the new place, we also have to completely clean the old apartment before we hand it back to the landlord. Luckily, we have a few weeks before this needs to be completed. But Swiss apartments are carefully checked for signs of damage before the deposit is released to the former tenant. Cleaning is also not a fun activity to do in this weather (or any weather, in fact) but it looks like next week will be a bit cooler so it can wait until then…

Also a quick thanks to our friend, Mark, who ably assisted us in getting the last few heavy items of furniture out of the old place. He was rewarded with a few cold beers and a steak on the grill. I was more than a little concerned when he said, if he got this for helping us every time we moved, he would help us move next week as well. Thanks but no thanks, Mark. We are definitely staying put!

No Fun in the Sun

28 Jul

The weather is unbelievably hot at the moment and, apart from an almighty downpour this morning, there really doesn’t seem to be any let up. Even though the rain has come down finally, it is still very humid and I have the rotating fan on as I write this.

I have just check the weather forecast today and from tomorrow it looks like the hot weather will return and we will be back to more 30-plus degree days.

I don’t mind the heat so much when I’m sat under an umbrella with a cocktail but at the moment we are in the process of moving and moving furniture is not ideal in this weather. However, it is better that the weather is hot rather than rain while we move. Soggy cardboard moving boxes would be a lot worse.

For a bit of fun, I decided to make a couple of lists about things I don’t want to do and can’t do in this weather.

Things I don’t want to do when the weather is this hot:

  1. Use a hair dryer
  2. Use public transport (especially at rush hour)
  3. Wear make-up
  4. Exercise
  5. Move flat
  6. Get into the car (it’s about 100 degrees inside)
  7. Eat a lot – this is perhaps a positive!
  8. Wear formal clothes
  9. Exist

Things I can’t do in when the weather is this hot:

  1. Sleep
  2. Keep insects out of the flat because the windows are constantly open
  3. Think properly
  4. Eat ice-cream because it melts down my arm
  5. Go outside for more than 10 minutes without burning
  6. Keep my hair straight because of the humidity
  7. Enjoy a nice bath
  8. Find my sunglasses – I will probably find them once the weather turns!

What are the things that you don’t want to do or can’t do in this weather? Let me know.

I’m off to enjoy a nice cold beer because it’s important to stay hydrated and cool in this weather.

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School’s Out for Summer

22 Jun

It’s now the end of June and my latest German course has finished. Finally! I have been going to evening classes twice a week for the past 15 weeks. And I really feel like a need a break for a few months.

I can’t honestly say that I don’t really feel like I have progressed all that much. My friend, Mark, couldn’t have put it better when he said (about learning German) that the more he learns, the more he realises he doesn’t know. This is exactly how I feel. It’s as if, for every thing I learn, something that I learnt last week, gets squeezed out of my brain. There isn’t enough space in my brain.

Whoever it was who said that “Ignorance is bliss” might have been on to something. The more I know, the less I feel I know and this has an impact on my self-confidence and my motivation to carry on learning at all!

I am hoping to take (and pass) the next and final German exam early in 2019. Before you ask, yes this is one of the items on my 40 Before 40 list of challenges. I have decided that if this is to be a realistic possibility at all, I need to carry on with doing quite a lot of German grammar exercise during the summer so that I don’t forget things completely. The idea is that by the time the next course starts in the middle of September that I will know the grammar and I have to concentrate only on learning some vocabulary and techniques for passing the exam.

I’ve decided to try to make a “revision timetable” for over the summer so that I can stay on track. However, I know that this doesn’t always work; it rarely worked in my school days so that chances of it working in the summer, when I feel like I need a break, are also slim. But I will give it ago anyway. I might have to tape the revision plan onto the fridge so that I am reminded of it every time I go to get something to eat.

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Medical Matters

20 Jun

No one likes to go to see the doctor, do they? Unfortunately, in the past few months our household has been a regular visitor to doctors and medical professionals.

First of all, I had a accident when I was running which was causing me pain at the back of my knee. The knee would be aching for days after any form of exercise and would hurt when I was going upstairs or bending my knee in any shape or form.

I went to see a knee specialist at the hospital and the words “possible torn meniscus” and “MRI” were muttered. I was happy when he suggested a course of physiotherapy to see if this improved things. I went for physio for twice a week for three weeks. I tried to run on the knee as well and I was really happy that, although I could feel some pain, it wasn’t half as bad as it had been. The doctor agreed to carry on with more physiotherapy, as it seemed to be helping a lot.

I have been frustrated while I have been out of action. I haven’t be able to go running, play sport or go cycling. I am really excited to report that when I went running last weekend, I had virtually no pain or aching feelings in my knee immediately or in the days afterwards. The physio also said this week that it was the first time that he wasn’t able to feel fluid in my knee. I am so happy that I will be able to get back outside and do some running training. I will feel like a dog that has been let of its lead for a few weeks at least before I start complaining that I don’t like running and I don’t want to do it anymore. But this means no more hospital or physio appointments.

My other half was in hospital at the start of May for an operation. It was not an emergency and was planned, so it wasn’t a big deal or anything that was risky. However, it turned out that both of us needed treatment in the end…

I arrived to pick him up and take him home. We had to wait for a while until the doctor came in to see if he was ok and to confirm that he was ok to go home. It was a hot day but in the morning when I left for work it was raining and chilly so I wore my winter coat into work. By the time I got to the hospital, I was so warm that I undid the back of my blouse to try and cool myself down.

Shortly after, the doctor came in to talk about the operation and ask my other half how he was feeling and if he was in any pain and so on. It was then that I was starting to feel faint and I noticed that I was beginning to sweat more and more. I told my boyfriend I wasn’t feeling so well and he told me to sit down on the bed and have a lie down but I felt stupid taking his bed from him when I had only come to visit.

The next thing I remember was I was lying in the bed, wondering why my boyfriend was standing next to the bed and a male nurse was taking my blood pressure. Apparently I fainted and hit my head on the wall but I just remember waking up and feeling a lot better than I did a few moments before.

On the plus side, I did get a free cup of coffee once I had come round and then we were quickly off home.

I am hoping that my knee rehabilitation continues to go in the right direction and I don’t have to go anywhere near a hospital in the near future. I don’t want to have to faint again to get a free cup of coffee.

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