Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Help & tips > Family matters/health  
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 25.10.2011, 10:44
Banned
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: USA, former Zurich
Posts: 2,041
Groaned at 14 Times in 14 Posts
Thanked 4,811 Times in 1,660 Posts
BokerTov has a reputation beyond reputeBokerTov has a reputation beyond reputeBokerTov has a reputation beyond reputeBokerTov has a reputation beyond reputeBokerTov has a reputation beyond reputeBokerTov has a reputation beyond repute
German-speaking "in-laws"

Hi all,

I hope this is the right section, but given the number of people with a Swiss/German OH whose German is limited or non-existent, I thought I'd post a few questions and honestly I am looking for some support, because I am freaking out a bit (a lot). How to deal with basically German-only speaking "in-laws"? What did you do when you first met them? Language/communication issues?

So basically, the agreed-upon "let me show you my hometown" suddenly turned into "it so happens that it's my sister's birthday and we have a big family gathering, and I want you to come with me".

I have several problems with this: first of all, this is cute but it's been several years since I was close enough to someone to even mentioning "meet the parents" and yes, I feel a bit tricked into it. I really want to leave the OH at the party and go visit a museum instead, but this is not an option, as apparently they are all eager to meet me (and I just found out last night).

Problem number 2: the thought that my German is basically close to zero, and that I won't be able to communicate as I would like to makes me go crazy. Apparently, they speak some English, but limited. What will they think, of this random woman who shows up with their son/brother/friend and can't even speak their language? It will be awkward and I am a bit terrified.

Problem number 3: what do I bring them? Something Italian, from Switzerland, both? The OH is completely unhelpful here, as I asked what they might like and he was vague and unconclusive (men...).

Backing out from the trip is not an option, so do I fake some last-minute illness or do I "woman up", deal with the freak-out thoughts, and try to do my best?

Advice and opinions very welcome...at least I'll have my nails in order as I'll be getting a mani/pedi from Coconut before I go

Thanks in advance for all the contributions!
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank BokerTov for this useful post:
  #2  
Old 25.10.2011, 11:04
Helm's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Zürich<->St.Gallen
Posts: 2,209
Groaned at 13 Times in 13 Posts
Thanked 4,136 Times in 1,371 Posts
Helm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

My dear, here are some advices not only from a German dating girl, but from an Eastern-German dating girl:

1: Don't be a pansy. Everyone gets scared in the beguining of a possible serious relationship. It doesn't make you special.

2: His parents probably learnt Russian in school, not English. They might have picked up some English later, but usually, in my personal experience, older Germans over-estimate their English skills. Smile, use "latina" charm, and you will find no problem there. Don't be afraid to use said German boy as proxy when in trouble: will make them proud of the language capacities of their son. Attention: they might be frightened by over use of hand language which we both suffer from. They will get used to it, though, but try to tune it down a bit.

3: Bring a nice Italian whine. They are more interested in your origins that your current place of work. Chocolate is also a pretty good option. All parents-in-law love chocolate. I could add some semi-light-offensive remark on lack of chocolate 40 years ago, but will leave it out.

4: Take cookies inside your bag. I'm sorry to say, the food traditions of Germans are difficult to get into if you come from a southern Europe country. I still haven't gotten used to it after 10 years. I'm still crying over the last X-Mas dinner. Cookies will avoid embarassing stomach-rawring moments.


The rest depends on you and them. Don't be scared. You're not signing a contract with anyone.

But hei, who am I to give advice. I don't call mine "monsters-in-law" for nothing...
__________________

Fighting for Pluto's liberation from the Dwarf League since 2006 @(°.°)=@)x.X)' ' '
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank Helm for this useful post:
  #3  
Old 25.10.2011, 11:16
ximix's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: UK (formerly Zurich)
Posts: 2,098
Groaned at 22 Times in 21 Posts
Thanked 2,315 Times in 1,179 Posts
ximix has a reputation beyond reputeximix has a reputation beyond reputeximix has a reputation beyond reputeximix has a reputation beyond reputeximix has a reputation beyond reputeximix has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Quote:
View Post
...

Backing out from the trip is not an option, so do I fake some last-minute illness or do I "woman up", deal with the freak-out thoughts, and try to do my best?

...
Defo the latter. Knowing you personally, you'll do just fine m'dear. Besides, your Boo (boyfriend) is lovely and helpful. He won't leave you stranded conversationally and am sure will help out with translating where necessary.

Hopefully, he's not reading your posts, "backing out" might be a tad tricky if so.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank ximix for this useful post:
  #4  
Old 25.10.2011, 11:33
st2lemans's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Lugano
Posts: 32,607
Groaned at 2,592 Times in 1,849 Posts
Thanked 39,702 Times in 18,716 Posts
st2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

I have a similar problem, i.e. my wife only speaks Italian (and some high-school French and even less German, despite having had a Swiss-German father), and most of my relatives only speak English (the exception being one sister who's daughter went to fashion school in Milano for five years, so she speaks passable Italian), and a few who also speak SwissGerman (my step-sons and their partners), so it makes family get-togethers somewhat interesting!

Tom
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank st2lemans for this useful post:
  #5  
Old 25.10.2011, 11:40
Helm's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Zürich<->St.Gallen
Posts: 2,209
Groaned at 13 Times in 13 Posts
Thanked 4,136 Times in 1,371 Posts
Helm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

I actually remembered I made a little complain comic about my German X-Mas food problem last year... How I cried for my mommy's golden roasted turkey with cashewnuts/chourico/olive filling...




Really, don't be afraid! Just charm them as you charm everyone else you come across The great thing about the language problem is everyone can have a good laugh at their own shortcomings
Reply With Quote
The following 9 users would like to thank Helm for this useful post:
  #6  
Old 25.10.2011, 11:48
TidakApa's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Top of a Triangle
Posts: 2,992
Groaned at 38 Times in 29 Posts
Thanked 5,673 Times in 2,039 Posts
TidakApa has a reputation beyond reputeTidakApa has a reputation beyond reputeTidakApa has a reputation beyond reputeTidakApa has a reputation beyond reputeTidakApa has a reputation beyond reputeTidakApa has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Quote:
View Post
Backing out from the trip is not an option, so do I fake some last-minute illness or do I "woman up", deal with the freak-out thoughts, and try to do my best?
As Helm put it.........

Quote:
View Post
1: Don't be a pansy. Everyone gets scared in the beguining of a possible serious relationship. It doesn't make you special.
Woman up !!! ........ Don't be a pansy.


The fact that your OH doesn't help you with what gift* to provide doesn't mean you can give him a hard time about it........ we are men, we don't know the answer to these things.
Bring whatever you want and I'm sure it will be appreciated.

The fact that "He wants you to meet the family" obviously means he likes you..... sheeeeeshhhh, usually women are bitching about men who "WON'T" commit to a relationship. So what have you got to lose?

Look on the brightside with language - "YOU CAN'T SAY ANYTHING STUPID** OR EMBARRASSING", so just smile and enjoy the food and 'translated' conversation.
It's only a weekend so it won't kill you.

FYI - I'm in the same situation as you this weekend, so you are not alone. But for the love of God.... just go, stop worrying, and you might actually enjoy it.


*GIFT - is actually "Poison" in German, so don't say that.
** it might sound stupid if you say 'gift'.
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank TidakApa for this useful post:
  #7  
Old 25.10.2011, 11:49
bluecat74's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Glarnerland
Posts: 196
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 258 Times in 111 Posts
bluecat74 has earned the respect of manybluecat74 has earned the respect of manybluecat74 has earned the respect of many
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

When I met my partners parents it was for the first time this year and it was on holiday in Croatia for 2 weeks. I was a bit nervous about meeting them, but that all vanished when they picked us up from the train station and his mum gave me flowers and said welcome to the family and at that moment I knew it was all good.

I know it is equally as difficult for my partner as even though he speaks english, when my family are together we talk very quickly, use our own slang and with my mums scottish accent it can be hard to understand what we are going on about hehehe.

Just relax and enjoy being the centre of attention.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank bluecat74 for this useful post:
  #8  
Old 25.10.2011, 11:53
swiss_in_training's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 1,350
Groaned at 19 Times in 19 Posts
Thanked 1,392 Times in 606 Posts
swiss_in_training has a reputation beyond reputeswiss_in_training has a reputation beyond reputeswiss_in_training has a reputation beyond reputeswiss_in_training has a reputation beyond reputeswiss_in_training has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Hey, I have those!

And the first time I met the extended family was at the grandmother's 90th birthday (the first time I met the future mother-in-law was when my now husband asked her to fly to California to "help us" when we moved in together. Yeah, I know, I should have bolted then...)

Don't panic, just smile, and don't drink too much

They'll all be so busy telling each other the story about the time Onkel Jurg drank too much Schnapps and fell into the cow fountain that they'll barely notice you.

As long as you don't sulk. Or dance on the tables

So, smile, don't panic, be polite, don't drink too much, and try to remember that you'll get your revenge when you invite him for your crazy Aunt's once-a-decade BBQ where everyone is expected to try her Guinness and Tabasco ice cream (yeah, I don't have a crazy aunt either, but I wish, oh how I wish...)

What to bring:

If you're staying with his parents, bring a bottle of wine and some fresh flowers. Italian wine is always good. Or chocolate. If you want to demonstrate your knowledge of Switzerland, something from Sprüngli is nice (though very expensive!), since it is (almost) only available in Zürich. My in-laws love it. If you're not staying with them, definitely chocolate (it's easier to carry around and share). Keep in mind that you might be visiting more often than you'd like, so don't go too crazy.

For the sister, depends on how old she is or where they are. Honestly, if she's about his age and you really don't know her, then get a gift certificate and a nice card.

Totally bring cookies or crackers with you.

Oh, and one hint from a woman who's been there, if you're not the star of the party, try being helpful. It will keep you from looking like you're sulking in a corner if you're helping Aunt Vreni with clearing the table or herding the youngest family members back into the play area. Everyone will think, what a nice young lady, and maybe Aunt Vreni will help you with a few German phrases.

Oh, and send a thank you card after, even if you have a miserable time!
__________________
--------------------------------------------------------
Where are we going and what's with this handbasket?
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank swiss_in_training for this useful post:
  #9  
Old 25.10.2011, 13:40
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Zurich
Posts: 481
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 267 Times in 168 Posts
gourmet is considered knowledgeablegourmet is considered knowledgeablegourmet is considered knowledgeable
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Quote:
View Post
Problem number 2: the thought that my German is basically close to zero, and that I won't be able to communicate as I would like to makes me go crazy. Apparently, they speak some English, but limited. What will they think, of this random woman who shows up with their son/brother/friend and can't even speak their language? It will be awkward and I am a bit terrified.
Look at this as a client assignment. That might make it easier.. what do you do when you get a new client? you do your homework, find out as much as you can, prepare and expect the worst for the first meeting.

Now, your German is a lot better than you think, just because you fruzzle out by the Swiss German. They might very well be delighted with your language skill. Just be yourself! Honestly, you are such a lovely warm person, just let that come through naturally.

Quote:
View Post
Don't panic, just smile, and don't drink too much

As long as you don't sulk. Or dance on the tables
you can dance.. just when the others do!



Quote:
View Post
3: Bring a nice Italian whine. They are more interested in your origins that your current place of work. Chocolate is also a pretty good option. All parents-in-law love chocolate. I could add some semi-light-offensive remark on lack of chocolate 40 years ago, but will leave it out.

But hei, who am I to give advice. I don't call mine "monsters-in-law" for nothing...
definitely don't whine! but wine is good or some Grappe (I think that is how it spelt) Nice flowers for the sister and mother and if there is grandmother, a bunch for her as well. (make sure your Boo is carrying them) Definitely some sweets or desserts or biscuits for coffee.

Have something to eat beforehand, so you are not hungry, that will settle your nerve a bit..

you will be fine and of course, we will want to hear ALL about it when you come back.. ok?
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank gourmet for this useful post:
  #10  
Old 25.10.2011, 13:44
Helm's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Zürich<->St.Gallen
Posts: 2,209
Groaned at 13 Times in 13 Posts
Thanked 4,136 Times in 1,371 Posts
Helm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Quote:
View Post
definitely don't whine! but wine is good
You dare going grammar Nazi on me? You... you... I know things about you! I will use it against you!

MUAH AH AH!




I hate the words whine/wine... I never know which is which and I am too lazy to check on the dictionary
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 25.10.2011, 13:51
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Zurich
Posts: 481
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 267 Times in 168 Posts
gourmet is considered knowledgeablegourmet is considered knowledgeablegourmet is considered knowledgeable
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Quote:
View Post
You dare going spelling Nazi on me? You... you... I know things about you! I will use it against you!

I hate the words whine/wine... I never know which is which and I am too lazy to check on the dictionary
whine is like man complaining.. and wine is what you drink for pleasure! Huge difference!

it is like celebrate and celibate!! you definitely DO NOT want to do one of those, or do you?
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank gourmet for this useful post:
  #12  
Old 25.10.2011, 13:56
colinjhw's Avatar
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Burgdorf, BE.
Posts: 74
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 53 Times in 26 Posts
colinjhw has earned some respectcolinjhw has earned some respect
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

You'll be fine! I'm Australian, & the first time I "met" my in-laws was on the phone asking them to marry their daughter, with her sister translating for me. They knew I spoke no German, & I knew they spoke no English. Then I met the rest of the (extended) family at our 2nd wedding over here. Everyone came over to congratulate us, & have a chat...I had no idea what they were saying. I got into the habit of saying thank you (for the congrats) & before I knew it (literally, I had no idea), I was thanking them no matter what they were saying (How do you like it here? "Thank you")!

When they know these things, it's much easier from the start, so make sure your man has informed them beforehand.

And from what everyone has said about not drinking too much, I totally agree. But DO have a couple of drinks...It will ease the nerves, & that little amount of German that you didn't think you knew could well become quite fluent!

Problem 3: I can't really go there, as I'm a man, & my response is usually the same ("I dunno...") Chocolate works :-P

All the best!
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank colinjhw for this useful post:
  #13  
Old 25.10.2011, 14:07
venice's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: zurich
Posts: 704
Groaned at 11 Times in 5 Posts
Thanked 688 Times in 353 Posts
venice has a reputation beyond reputevenice has a reputation beyond reputevenice has a reputation beyond reputevenice has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

federica, don't worry in the least! germans ADORE italians and everything italian. they are ready to excuse even our most deplorable habits. it's the well known "Italiener-Bonus" which made me survive for all those years in germany with my german in-laws...

you will come across as the charming italian woman that you are (manicured and pedicured).
they will greatly appreciate if you as much as say "bitte" and "danke schön". of course you will be all AAHHH ans OOHS about art and history and cultural heritage in east germany (dutifully ignoring any depressing DDR issues).
and don't forget to say "sehr lecker" to the thüringer wurst (in case ask for one) - which is really lecker.

you know what? not all germans are cold and stiff, surprisingly many can be really nice and welcoming. I'm sure your future in laws will be - I feel it! besides, they can't be so bad if they are your beloved one's relatives, can they?

believe me, they will be still talking in Dresden or Leipzig, or wherever he comes from about the "reizende italienische freundin" for years to come
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank venice for this useful post:
  #14  
Old 25.10.2011, 14:12
venice's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: zurich
Posts: 704
Groaned at 11 Times in 5 Posts
Thanked 688 Times in 353 Posts
venice has a reputation beyond reputevenice has a reputation beyond reputevenice has a reputation beyond reputevenice has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

as for the present, I would go italian, to avoid confusion: something really typical like baci perugina, wine, vin santo e cantuccini, a gucci handbag (just joking, of course)
italian design, for instance alessi is also very popular in germany, like a fruitbowl or a can opener... I'll let you knwo if I come up with anything else
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank venice for this useful post:
  #15  
Old 25.10.2011, 14:12
Helm's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Zürich<->St.Gallen
Posts: 2,209
Groaned at 13 Times in 13 Posts
Thanked 4,136 Times in 1,371 Posts
Helm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Quote:
View Post
whine is like man complaining.. and wine is what you drink for pleasure! Huge difference!
Not totally sure it's that big of a difference... I'd drink wine to cover up the whine

I know both meanings, I just can't remember how to spell each one, and the fact they are homophones, it's difficult for me to remember We have nasty ones like that in Portuguese too...
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 25.10.2011, 14:12
Assassin's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Chasing clouds
Posts: 4,023
Groaned at 180 Times in 123 Posts
Thanked 11,558 Times in 3,148 Posts
Assassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

If in doubt, go hiking. Far, far away up above the tree line where no one can hear you scream.....
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank Assassin for this useful post:
  #17  
Old 25.10.2011, 14:17
Helm's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Zürich<->St.Gallen
Posts: 2,209
Groaned at 13 Times in 13 Posts
Thanked 4,136 Times in 1,371 Posts
Helm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond reputeHelm has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Quote:
View Post
If in doubt, go hiking. Far, far away up above the tree line where no one can hear you scream.....
Knowing where she is going, this one makes me laugh quite a while... That area of Germany is quite famous for its mountains, of which I never got to see a hill over 100 metres though...
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Helm for this useful post:
  #18  
Old 25.10.2011, 14:22
PaperMoon2's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Arizona, USA
Posts: 499
Groaned at 24 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 100 Times in 74 Posts
PaperMoon2 has earned the respect of manyPaperMoon2 has earned the respect of manyPaperMoon2 has earned the respect of many
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

I don't think it's as bad as you're imagining it. Just relax and be yourself.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank PaperMoon2 for this useful post:
  #19  
Old 25.10.2011, 14:52
Sbrinz's Avatar
RIP
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Murten - Morat
Posts: 11,866
Groaned at 563 Times in 354 Posts
Thanked 11,548 Times in 5,941 Posts
Sbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond repute
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Quote:
View Post
as for the present, I would go italian, to avoid confusion: something really typical like baci perugina, wine, vin santo e cantuccini, a gucci handbag (just joking, of course)
italian design, for instance alessi is also very popular in germany, like a fruitbowl or a can opener... I'll let you knwo if I come up with anything else
Agreed with all the good advice so far.

Don't loose the plot, it is the sister's birthday, so the handbag is an excellent choice.

For the hosts I would take some Italian biscuits, expensive Swiss chocolates, and a small bunch of fresh flowers. Remember, small but good quality presents are best.

Best to avoid gift vouchers! Ha ha.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Sbrinz for this useful post:
  #20  
Old 25.10.2011, 14:56
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Frankfurt (Ex-Zurich)
Posts: 869
Groaned at 95 Times in 42 Posts
Thanked 584 Times in 331 Posts
FrankS has earned the respect of manyFrankS has earned the respect of manyFrankS has earned the respect of many
Re: German-speaking "in-laws"

Quote:
View Post
I have several problems with this: first of all, this is cute but it's been several years since I was close enough to someone to even mentioning "meet the parents"
That's probably a cultural thing. Whereas in some countries, meeting the parents means that you're almost engaged, this just isn't the case in Germany (unless it's an aristocratic or old money family maybe). It's absolutely normal to bring along one's boyfriend/girlfriend to (non-formal) family parties, even if you've been a couple for some weeks only.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank FrankS for this useful post:
Reply




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
New English-speaking "ElternKindTreff" opening in Lenzburg Nicola_Jane Family matters/health 0 27.03.2011 16:36
"Ghost Writer", English-Speaking Theatre in Zurich Ittigen Other/general 2 08.10.2010 10:12
How do you say "Ausbildungsmöglichkeiten" and "Chemiefacharbeiterin" in swiss german bayboro91 Language corner 2 07.05.2010 17:31


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 02:56.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0