Updating on my first day of class, my sister’s PHd defense, and some family stuff.
I had my first day of the Vorbereitungskurs. It’s a mixed bunch. Some have pretty good conversational German, some sound really weak. One is as young as 18, some have kids and look in their early 30s. They come from different parts of the world.
There was one guy who was technically Swiss but didn’t live here almost at all, having went to college in Brighton and considered English his mother tongue. Hence the need for a preparation course.
The class it self was okay. There are more breaks than I’m used to, and instead of generally teaching German it’s specifically prepping us for the various aspects of the test.
From what people say, it’s not that hard to pass. Which is a relief.
So right after that class ended I rushed to Lausanne, where I met my sister’s husband (I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to brother-in-law) who showed me how to get to the room.
Given that her thesis was in statistics, and I haven’t done that since IB Maths (and much preferred calculus over it) most of it went over my head. Essentially it was a theorem to predict ecological populations from relative sample sizes. It even works in practice, which surprised my sister too.
We had a little apéro, I met some of her friends. Two of them did the North Korea trip I mentioned some time ago. They were letting in more people for the centennial of Kim Il Sung’s birthday, so they went to see it for themselves. Their impression was that yes, people were poor, but not as horribly starving as is typically depicted. Perhaps, as they said, only as bad as rural China, which is still bad but could be worse.
I mentioned that my grandpa did a meetup with an Internet friend, and even stayed over at his place. They were interested in his war record, and he told them war stories that he never told his family. My dad, who had dinner with them, remarked that “Hey, you never told us about this.” He said he didn’t like to brag. I asked him to tell me these, that I might write them down.
My mother didn’t go for the Defense. I surmised that nothing I could say would convince her to go. I worry that I’m making the decision for her without more thoroughly consulting her, but I really don’t see how it would happen. Even if my mom felt remorse, I’m not sure she’d swallow her pride enough to go.
So it goes.
My uncle was there. He’s the one my mom particularly dislikes. She’s often told me that he’s said unkind things about me: that I’m a bum and going nowhere. It’s made me wary in the past, but frankly I don’t care. She does, though. In any case though, it was still nice to see him. Sometimes I get the feeling that this big feud in the family doesn’t have to be interpreted as a Cold War but is taken as such by mostly just my mom and my aunt.
But they’re not completely wrong about some things. Since my grandpa got here, my sister never wrote to or called him, even though the whole reason he’s here is for her. She saw him for one afternoon, and that’s it. Screw most of the things my mom gets worked up over, but this is just courtesy.
My uncle made an odd remark, too. My mom’s concern about that side of the family is that they seem very money-focused. My older aunt has long been extremely preoccupied with the status of her inheritance, for example. So when my uncle was remarking on how nice my grandpa’s DSLR camera is, he said to me in an aside “Wow, hey, that’s expensive, he must be pretty rich.” Colour me suspicious.
I’m wondering how I should compile my grandpa’s stories…