The MacGuffin

Always Use Exact Change

Posted by Lauren Rugani on February 23, 2011

I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing, but when you pay for something here it seems they prefer that you provide exact change. It happened yesterday at lunch, and again today at the store in the mall. The cashiers look at you like you’re crazy if you just hand them a 20. It’s not so much they expect you to have the exact amount, say 16.50, but if you hand them a 20 they also expect the 50 so they can give you an even number of francs in change. I’ll have to keep that in mind. (On a side note, I managed to take the bus and find the shopping center all by myself!)

Work was fun again today. I had a tour this morning, which unfortunately was not as behind-the-scenes as yesterday’s tour. We just went to the visitor’s center and looked at posters and slide shows, right along with a large group of European high school students. I asked if there was anything else to see, but he said not really. On a positive note, I met several people who might be nice to work with to find good stories.

After the tour I tagged along on a lunch meeting with two representatives from the US mission to the UN and the director of communications at CERN. We had a great conversation about outreach, using art to spread science and diplomacy around the world. One of the reps, who is also relatively new to the area, suggested we meet up for fondue (a local favorite) in the near future.

We ate a catered 3-course meal in a private dining room just off the cafeteria. First was some sort of soup, maybe mushroom, with a chunk of something resembling the texture of feta cheese in the middle. It was probably like duck liver or something,  but I don’t want to know because it was delicious. Then they brought out the main dish, which was salmon with what tasted like a creamy dill sauce. Salmon is probably my least favorite food in the world, but I didn’t have much of a choice, so I politely ate about half of it. (Mom don’t read the next part.) It wasn’t half bad! (I know you read it anyway, so don’t expect me to eat it when I come home. :)) Then for dessert we had fancy pastries with custard and fruit, followed by espresso. 5-star living in US = free lunch in Geneva haha.

I also started listening to podcasts of French lessons. Rather than teach vocabulary and grammar, they use complete phrases that are useful in conversation, then explain the parts of the phrases. Hopefully this will give me some good practice so I don’t feel so illiterate any time I need to do anything in public.

Still hunting for an apartment or roommate, but a few good leads have popped up. I hope I can find something soon, as this hostel is terribly expensive.

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3 Responses to “Always Use Exact Change”

  1. John Figoni said

    Hi Lauren, Enjoy your blog. It has been my experience when dealing with the French, that if you want results speak German.

  2. Diana Rugani said

    Have you considered Rosetta Stone? Friends from my previous employer have used it when they had to go abroad and they felt it work well. I enjoy reading your blog everyday, I am glad each day gets better.

  3. Kathie Rugani said

    I’m glad to are enjoying yourself and are learning a bit about a different culture. Although you claim not to like salmon, I’m pleased that you remembered your manners and at least tried it! I’m still holding out hope that you will try my salmon when you get home. Tastes do change, you know . . .

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