Victoria Osei-Bonsu – My Basel Experience
I first arrived in Basel on the 4th of October, 2013. It was another kind of experience for me! Even though I had already been to France, to the US and was a regular visitor to the UK, I still could not help but have a cultural shock upon arrival in Basel. For one thing the language was different. Apart from English, I speak passably good French, and some Spanish. But here I was faced with German, or, to be more precise, a variety of Swiss German known as Basler Deutsch; and I had no idea what people around me were saying or what the announcements in the buses and trams meant. Bottom line: I was lost!!! And I was a little scared. But I meant to make things work out for me here. I was going to literally take the bull by the horns with or without a knowledge of the language.
So, I started by taking courses in German, only to find out that my course load was so packed that I could only manage a single semester of A1 (A Eins)! Then I decided to go to the open market – the Flohmarkt – more often so I could hear the language in use and practice from there. That helped a bit and I realised that gradually I could make some meaning if I listened carefully or politely asked people to repeat themselves a little more slowly. And I could also make myself understood using very basic expressions.
It took me a while to establish a social life outside of my little flat. But once I did, I was eager to explore more and more of the region as and when I could. I am not much of a party person, but from time to time I attended fun parties organised by friends I had made. I also took time out to visit other places such as Bern, Zurich and Geneva. In the Christmas of 2015 I joined the Anglican Church; and I so enjoyed their services that I kept going back as it catered to my spiritual needs. With the Church I went on other very enjoyable excursions that took me walking in mountainous regions and enjoying pure pasture.
Towards the end of my stay in Basel, I was sure I was going to miss the region once I left the country. I was also certain I would always carry great memories of the City with me wherever I went. Afterall, my second daughter was born there and my husband and I cannot help but think of her as the Basler in our family!