Wavering on my decision to start a second degree

I recently started a second degree in the sciences/maths, because of my plan to retrain in a health-related field. I also recently moved to a place where the working languages are Swiss German and German.

I’m starting to think that even though I’m enjoying my degree, I would be better off using that time on perfecting my German and learning Swiss German, which will have more utility in every day life (though medical science and maths is always useful).

Home and hearth

I feel like all of those goals and plans I’ve always liked to fuss over don’t have that much meaning for me anymore. Goals and plans are necessary, and essential, at certain stages of life, but now everything fades in importance in comparison to the home and foyer. (It is easy for me to say this at this juncture, as I’ve achieved many of my goals and dreams, and have had a successful career).

So, I’m thinking about child-spacing. I’d like a big brood, but of course, that’s very easy to say before you’ve even had the first one. Talking the talk, and walking the walk, are two completely different things. I can read and prepare and research all I want, but the theory and individual lived reality of parenthood are distinct things.

Full time student

For one reason or another, the majority of new people I meet in socialising contexts here are 10-30 years older than me, or in their early twenties. It’s refreshing and nice to get different perspectives on things from individuals from generations/sub-generations that are not my own.

I made a bit of effort during my first few months, but to be honest, I prefer to be at home and don’t think it is worth the effort to trek all the way into Zurich for social events.

For a few months I was a ‘full time’ German language student (i.e. 4 hours a day).

I’ve recently enrolled onto a science degree and currently taking two science modules and a maths one, as well as continuing to study German. It’s great fun and I’m enjoying the opportunity and privilege of being able to be a full time student. It’s a real pleasure.

Maintaining foreign languages

I ask myself: is it worth the effort for languages you don’t particularly use that much, or would it be more fruitful to use the time/effort on other things?

Also interesting: which languages for the children? It’s quite trendy nowadays to talk about polyglot children, but I also don’t think it’s particularly productive for children to study too many languages (unless they themselves demonstrate a passion and aptitude for it), nor for individuals to force a child to learn a language they don’t speak themselves.

Everything is on a case by case and family by family basis, of course. Things are always more complicated when your partner’s mother tongue is not the same as your own (and each side of the in-laws do not speak either of each other’s working languages), and when your own two parents (and two sides of the extended family) do not have the same mother tongue.

Languages I’ve studied to a high level

  • French
  • Mandarin
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • German

Languages I’ve studied to an intermediate level 

  • Dutch
  • German
  • Russian

Lost languages

  • Cantonese

Snow-covered morning

This morning I woke up to a snow-covered landscape. A light dusting of powdery, white snow covering everything, like a blanket of icing sugar. Silvery frost. This kind of snow is like an Instagram filter, making everything beautiful. Breathtakingly beautiful. It is the sort of snow you see in the movies, in your imagination, and a far cry from the grey, filthy slush that you usually get in grand cities such as London.

Fondue chinoise AKA hot pot

In Switzerland, people often eat ‘fondue chinoise’ to see in the New Year (Silvester). ‘Fondue chinoise’ is just that: what we know as hotpot or steamboat in East and Southeast Asia.

I’ve had hotpot (in it’s various iterations) all over the world. In the UK, in Malaysia, in China, Singapore, in Japan, in South Korea, in Thailand, and now in Switzerland. In a little way, it feels like this is just part of the full circle: from my mother travelling from Asia to Europe, to making me, to me marrying, us moving to another country – hotpot is always there steaming away in the background with its brothy goodness, in one form or another, and always a focal point for family gatherings around the table.