Sunday, March 06, 2005

A little bit of Switzerland.

Mrs. TBF and I ran into two Finns yesterday while doing a little shopping. First, we ran into a Finnish saleslady at Mobel Pfister while we were buying some towels for our guest bathroom. As I handed the lady my credit card to pay for the towels, she noticed my last name and immediately began speaking Finnish with me. As it turns out, she came to Switzerland 30+ years ago to study German for a year, met a Finnish man, they were married, and they never left. We spoke for a few minutes, she told me that there is a Swiss/Finnish Society in Basel with about 400 members and that there are about 10,000 Finns in Switzerland - imagine that!
After stopping at home to bring Dominique out to do her business, we headed out to a furniture store called Getzman to look for a new dining room table and chairs. The salesman who helped us has a Swiss father and a Finnish mother. I spoke to him in Finnish, Jo Ann spoke to him in English, and he spoke to us in a combination of Finnish, English, and German. It was a pretty interesting hour or so. His spoken Finnish wasn't great, but I could tell that he understood just about everything I said.
So, for me it was a rare opportunity to get in some Finnish language practice. I feel that my Finnish speaking skills have deteriorated somewhat while living in Switzerland, and I'm not happy about it. Pretty much all the practice I get is talking to my dad for about five minutes on the phone every week or so (he's not much of a phone talker), talking to myself, and occasionally speaking with a local Finnish friend - Anne (although we usually speak in English if Mrs. TBF is there).
The saleslady from Mobel Pfister gave me her home phone number so I could call her for some info about the Swiss/Finnish Society. Maybe I should give her a call and become a member of the society so that I could speak Finnish a little more often.
Mrs. TBF and I are thinking of beginning French lessons. English...German conversation classes, Finnish and French? How much info can one cram into their brain???

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