‘Je suis fini’ is what I said to the woman waiting to place clothes into the laundry machine. A literal French-to-English translation implies ‘I am finished'. What it really means is ‘I am dead’. Which explains all the frowning.
Despite coming from a bilingual country, taking mandatory French classes in school and having plenty of opportunity on the toilet to translate the instructions off a shampoo bottle, I still feel like an idiot every time I speak it...with reason. But French is an official language in Switzerland. It's important to learn.
So I've taken several classes. I've read a few novels in French. I've used an online learning tool to teach me all the important phrases...
And just when I felt able to make a phone call without the prerequisite, repetez encore s'il vous plait (because they charge by the minute here), this multilingual country threw me another hoop. The health insurance forms arrive in German. The water heater breaks and the instructions are all in German. German is another official language of Switzerland (they have four!).
So now I'm learning German. How are my lessons going? Danke, gut. After two weeks I can tell you my name, ask how old you are and order a glass of orange juice. To keep me motivated I try to set the scene, envision the moment these sentences will save a life, be of good use. Elderly German diabetic? In the meantime it's practice, practice, practice. World domination...one verb at a time.