Posted by: expaticainhelvetica | July 20, 2010

La Bebe

Mes Amies had a baby.  La Bebe is gorgeous, adorable, cute, wonderful, and awe-inspiring.  Doesn’t mean it’s changed my mind on the whole kid thing (I still plan on telling the next person who asks me if we plan on having any that I’m barren),  but it is really inspiring to see two people, so deeply in love, totally at ease with their slide into parenthood.  I’m so happy for them and am looking forward to introducing Expatico to her in a few weeks. 

Mes Amies are parents!

Happy mommy, zonked out bebe

Posted by: expaticainhelvetica | July 20, 2010

My Coffee to Go

I’ve been consuming too  much Starbuck’s since arriving here Stateside.  Every morning, I get all twittery walking into the ‘Buck’s and ordering a grande, non-fat latte.  The first sip makes my heart happy.  It costs half of what it does in CH, where we only buy one a week, if we’re lucky.  I even get myself a Greek yogurt parfait, and my whole breakfast STILL costs less than a single grande, non-fat latte back yonder.

That being said – fun, green tip!  Save your Starbuck’s sleeves.  I re-use them whenever I go back. They’re pretty durable and have a decent lifespan.  I can usually get a month or so out of them before I get a new one, and this is even during heavy consumption times.  It’s a small little thing you can do to help benefit Momma Earth.

 

Posted by: expaticainhelvetica | July 15, 2010

Back at the Homestead

I’m back Stateside for a month, sans Expatico. It’s weird being home and how quickly one can fall into the familiarity of it all. There are things I appreciate more (both here and in der Schweiz), things I miss, and things that make me realize why I get so annoyed with the US of A. I’ve only been back a little over 72 hours, and already I’m compiling a list of things that fall under each bucket.

For example – I appreciate America’s diversity and the slew of opportunities available at my fingertips.  But I also appreciate Switzerland’s national pride and love of all-things Swiss.  The Swiss will pay 10X as much for something if it’s been made in their country, so even though that limits many things, it also is kinda nice to see.

I miss the kindness of folks in the US and the openness.  I also miss Swiss efficiency.  Not having those little side conversations and distractions does make things move along much quicker.

I am annoyed already, though, with some things.  Take the gawking men who drive by in the a.m. while I”m standing on my friend’s porch having a cup of coffee.  Yes, I have big boobs and I’m wearing a tank top with shorts.  Move along…men in CH don’t seem to do this as much.  Maybe they’re just not as impressed or just could care less?

I’m also annoyed with the T.  Why can’t they be more on time?  And why can’t they just give you a time when the next train is coming?  Every other transit system I’ve ever been on tells you the next train is in XX many minutes.  Why can’t Boston acquire this technology.

Another thing that I realize I’m not a big fan of – air conditioning.  Why is my office 65 degrees, but outside it’s 90 degrees?  This explains why I get sick nearly every August.  A 30 degree temperature fluctuation is likely the culprit.  I miss my office back in CH where I can OPEN  A WINDOW as wide as I want.  If I want to perch myself on the ledge, so be it.  My choice, and my choice alone.

The thing that makes me happiest, though, is to see good friends and family.  I miss everyone terribly.  I’ve been packing my calendar chock-a-block with dinners, drinks, etc.  I just wish Expatico was here with me for the whole trip.  Luckily, he’ll be joining me at a later date so we can share this all together.

Now off to put some drops in my eyes cause the damn AC is drying my peepers out!

Posted by: expaticainhelvetica | July 6, 2010

Today is a Special Day

One year ago today, I landed on Swiss soil with two suitcases in hand, a jet lagged head, and a child-like wonder about my new adventures.  The first few months were tough sans Expatico, but things got a bit easier as time wore on, and then much easier once he arrived.  Now, dare I say, I occasionally find myself calling this unfamiliar place home.

The past year has been exciting, frustrating, entertaining, wondrous, and incredible, all wrapped up into one.  Moving is always stressful, but moving to a totally different country that has draconian laws and a significant language barrier is just downright overwhelming.  To think I embarked on this adventure, and along with Expatico, have made a life here is really hard to believe.   Since last year, we’ve done so much and had so much fun.  We’ve also been lucky to make some really great friends who I hope we continue to stay in touch with even when this adventure comes to a close.  To think simple interactions at a grocery store, at work, or in a cooking class can result in meeting some great people helps me realize that even in your 30s, meeting people in a new place doesn’t have to be a challenge and can reap so many rewards.

The experiences we’ve packed into 365 days is jaw-dropping, and I feel so fortunate that I’ve been able to share this with Expatico as my partner in crime. I know I don’t say this enough, but I am one lucky gal to have him here with me.  I doubt that ANY one else in this world could have dealt with me this past year.  My emotions at times have been akin to that of a teenager going through puberty; holding it all together on one day, totally snapping the next.  All the while, though, my dearest hub-a-dub has been there, holding me when I cry, telling me it’s all going to be all right, and some how working his magic to put it all in perspective.  I had a conversation once with a friend whom I’ll call Old Bay (and if she reads this, she’ll know why🙂 ).  She said when she and her husband moved, they found their relationship got stronger because they had to rely on each other for so much.  I find that our move helped make a good thing better, which is one of the lovely bonuses of this all.

The entire experience, though, is kind of funny.  I mean, if you had told me, when I was a child growing up in a broken home surrounded by dysfunction and drama, that I would be living in Switzerland with an incredible, thoughtful, loving man and have a job that more than one person describes as “big”, I would have thought you were totally nuts, drunk, high or all three.  What did I do to be the fortunate recipient of this life?  And who do I have to thank for it all?

Of course, none of this means that I’ve forgotten about my true home.

I miss my friends and family and knowing I can call up whom ever, whenever and they’ll be ready at the drop of a hat to go grab a bite or a drink to catch up on this and that.

I miss not having to worry about a six-hour time difference when phoning home.

I miss the familiarity of people, places and things, knowing exactly where something is, be it in a store, on my street or somewhere in the city.

I miss the ease of everyday interactions, such as chatting with the checkout lady at Shaw’s, or recognizing the face of the woman who walks her dog on our street every day.

I miss familiar food since simple things like red potatoes, good salsa, and spicy Italian sausage are damn-near impossible to come by here.

I miss knowing I can get a decent meal at a decent price any day of the week from any kind of ethnic restaurant I can imagine.

I miss my city and its little cracks and crevices full of life, beauty, and excitement.

I miss the ocean and that tell-tale smell, be it on the Cape or near the Harbor.

In the end, though, I know the longing and missing is all worth it for an experience like this.  All the things I miss will still be there when we go home.

Posted by: expaticainhelvetica | June 23, 2010

Hold the Wheel and Drive

Watch out, Switzerland.  The powers that be allowed me to painlessly switch my US license to a Swiss driver’s license.

Jackpot!

Transferring my license was so simple and it didn’t cost nearly as much as I expected.  The best part?  No new driving test, just fill out some forms, get an eye test, and voila!  Swiss license pour moi.

How does one make this magical change?  See below:

– If you’re living in CH, you can use your foreign license for one year. This is good for procrastinators like me.  Within a year of living here, you are required to exchange your license for a national driving license.   Rumor has it that if you don’t transfer your license within the first year, you’ll have to start from scratch and pass a Swiss driving test.  So, do it within a year.  If not, you’re back to driver’s ed a la 10th grade.

– To transfer your license, you need the following:

  • License exchange request form – you can find it here in German
  • Original license
  • Eye test certificate – Krass Optik in Sihlcity Nord, Enge/Zurich, does tests for 10 CHF, no appointment required  I have a friend who said they did her exam for free.  So, maybe it depends who you get to do the test. When I was there, I didn’t have the energy to argue this.  Either way, it’s still cheaper than most other places which charge between 20 – 50 CHF.
  • Passport photo – I read some where you need two, but they only took one when I went.
  • Swiss Visa or Auslanderausweiss to prove you really are living here – I find this funny, because Switzerland is really a Big Brother kinda place.  The fact they WOULDN’T KNOW that you’re here legally or on a certain visa seems very odd to me.

Once you have all of this, just take a trip to your local gemeindehaus , give them all of the above with 20 CHF. and within a week, you have a new Swiss license.  Easy, ‘eh?

Of course, there are exceptions to this seemingly simple process.  This being Switzerland, if you have an African (except South Africa), Asian (except Japan), Central and South American, Portuguese or Turkish license, you must pass a practical exam. If you fail the exam, you’ll have to take the full exam, written included.  Personally, this rings of subtle racism, but maybe I’m just reading too much into things.

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