This is not a post that will have you ready to pack your bags and embark on the adventure of living abroad (more of those to come). But if you have already started that process, and you are moving to Switzerland, here is a glimpse at WEEK ONE and what to expect realistically. Also some tips on what to remember BEFORE you get here.
Mostly this post is a way for me to remember this stuff for the future and to try and encourage friends and family back home to get on Skye and Viber because they hear me feeling a little unenthusiastic and homesick.
for the recap:
Thursday- exhausted! We have finished the “journey over the Atlantic”. A few flight hiccup’s in the states but everything turned out better! Got moved to a Swiss flight! The kids were surprisingly better than expected. I Dreaded this part of our relo- but I am pleasantly encouraged, the kids both slept some on the overnight flight, and would have slept more but in an effort to get everyone acclimated to the time change they turn on the lights and start feeding you breakfast at local time instead of east coast time. We flew Swiss so it was pretty awesome as far as a long flight in coach goes. We boarded the plane at about 9:00- we were served a hot meal at 10ish- I was surprised- didn’t expect dinner?! They did lights out at about 11:30 and by about 3:00 am they were simulating morning wake-up to get you on track. I have a hard time sleeping anyway, but under these circumstances (sitting upright with kids all over the place, and negative 50 humidity) I got VERY little sleep on the plane. This made arriving to a new flat with beds and clean soft linens, a relief… fall asleep happy! ZZZZzzzzzz. Dinner at/with friends. Father in Heaven is with us. He has steered our ship and we have arrived safely.
Friday- Hit the ground running. Dave registered with fremden polizei. Off to search for furniture. Expensive, Tired.
Saturday- Hit the ground running- so tired. Things are moving way to slowww. Renting car is very expensive. We can not fit too much furniture into anything. Dave got van but there is not enough time for everything, stores close at 4pm. Van cost about 200$ /day- Assemble Assemble Assemble. Heavenly Father, Help Us.
Sunday- missing General Conference. Go to Jagna’s to search internet, must be a way to buy used furniture from expats or a Swiss version of Craigslist???? Discover www.englishforum.ch, www.ricardo.ch, www.gratis-inserate.ch. Pass time, kids play on trampoline a lot, when it is not raining. Weather has been gloomy and cold, tonight Gabriel prays for sun to shine through the fog. Dinner again with Jagna and Chris. Dave drives rental van back to Luzern. Must check email- need internet.
Monday- Dave started work. Had hoped to receive Swiss permit in the mail- nothing:( Cant get internet and cell phones till permit arrives. Pass the day unpacking, laundry etc. Silvia takes us to get microwave, blow-dryer, and mixer, and LOTS of Groceries at discount place. Shopping with kids was stressful. We saw sun for a little while today- It was beautiful. Had to use cash because many places do not accept visa, especially discount stores. COOP and Migro do, they are big Swiss ones- sort of like Publix back home.
4-9 /Tuesday- BLUR. Long walk to COOP to buy groceries. Carry them home – heavy. Nice walk though. Re-met nice lady from Boston -she has 3 kids. I overheard her speaking English and went to speak to her, she recognized my name and we got re-aquainted. Turns out I met her about 10 years ago! She said she just ran across my name a week ago and wondered what became of me. Coincidence? I think Heavenly Father is looking out for me. Some rain, Some sun. Nice to have no appointments. Where is this Swiss permit?! NEED internet!
4-10 /Wednesday- Slow morning. Cook. Clean. Another Pilatus expat family- British -are coming to meet us. Gabriel is very much looking forward to a play-date. I’m looking forward to hearing tips on how to make the transition successful for the kids. Nice afternoon, went to schwimmbad- a lake beach area with a kiddie pool in the village-next-door. It will be a perfect summertime hang out- has huge sandbox with proper white sand (our apartment playground sandbox is filled with brown dirt?) and there is a big play-set and teeter-toters etc.
4-11 /Thursday- Long walk to COOP , hitting all the ATM machines to get cash for car. Its the easiest way to get our money from the bank account in the states. We don’t have a bank account hear yet because still no permit! Must buy car, renting every weekend just to get furniture is too expensive.
things that could be improved on:
1. I wished we had figured out a better communications plan before we left. I left it to my husband (yes I am sorta blaming him). I wish we would have had our phones (or at least one of them broke because we could have instantly used a prepaid phone chip and been rock-in and roll-in as soon as we could get to a phone store). HINDSIGHT! What I recommend- If you have an IPhone- have it broke before arriving. If you don’t- go to a phone store (swisscom is the biggest I think) and get a cheap phone for 10-20 CHF and buy a prepaid card- sold in increments of 30CHF, 50 CHF, and 100CHF. You will be able to talk and text at a pretty inexpensive rate. Sadly we racked up a $500.00 phone bill before figuring this out!!!!!
2. A house hunting trip to sort out some of this sure would have been nice, and if you are moving here for the first time- I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! Also HIGHLY RECOMMEND learning German (this has always been an ongoing problem for me).
3. Furniture pickup has been the second biggest hassle behind communications. There aren’t rental trucks at Homedepot- there is no home depot:( there is no such thing as UHAUL (are you listening out there? A completely un-tapped opportunity?!!) I discovered a few rental van places- Otto- I haven’t used it yet- but plan to. It rents by the hour and is all over Switzerland. Before you suggest Ikea- lets talk details. Ikea has a slightly complicated and tricky transportation opportunities. They do deliver, but pricing is dependant on how much you spend and can take a week to deliver. Plus they do NOT deliver Fundegrube items (the discount-returns- and scratch-n-dent stuff that’s in the area near the checkout registers). Ikea does rent vans and trucks and when we do our next big shopping trip we will plan for this… however the shopping hours in Switzerland are difficult. Dave is working m-f so that leaves us nights and weekends. The fundgrube will not hold stuff – all deals have to go out the same day. SO I can’t go buys something and have him pick it up later- there is no time. 2 weeknight they stay open till 8- and Saturday they are open till 4. It’s crazy for us Americans to imagine, but people here believe that the weekends are a time to rest and enjoy life. They are NOT a consumer driven society and this has never been more clear to me than as I have struggled to buy a household of goods this week. SO basically we found a ton of great stuff in the fundgrube but couldn’t buy it because by the time we got to the end and discovered it- there wasn’t enough time to rent the truck and have it back in time for closing. We need a 3 hour window to drive home, unload and return the truck. Next weekend we will be more strategic. First thing in the AM head to fundgrube and buy up the bargains, then rent truck straight away and Spartacus will drive it home, while I finish regular Ikea shopping. Then he will have time for a 2nd trip or to return the van, or use it to stop at the broken haus for thrift store finds! (more on those later). Sorry for vomiting up the long drawn out ordeal, but I had to learn it the hard way. You almost need a degree in logistics just to take advantage of the IKEA bargains.
4. Figure out a better way to access money?! We brought quite a bit in travelers checks, and maybe this is the best option?! Our small bank back home is awesome though and they really tried to work with us. They made a special arrangement to increase the amount of cash we could access per day and extended that over several days so that I could withdrawal enough money to buy a car. And because most ATM’s here (everyone that I used) had a $1000 limit/day, I had to visit a lot of ATM machines (on foot- luckily Switzerland has a lot of banks) and do one transaction after another. I really felt nervous holding that much cash!
Well there it is in a nutshell. If your still reading, thanks! It gets better, but what I can accomplish in a week in the states in DRAMATICALLY reduced here. That feeling of helplessness and frustration is not something I like dealing with (nor do the people around me like me dealing with it – I must work on this! “when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”). I am learning more patients. I am learning to try and enjoy things while I wait for other things. And just to end on a positive note- the little primrose are blooming, scattered all over the perfect shade of green grass.
The flowers are bursting into bloom everywhere.
These yard bunnies are so cute (and well fed- they could intimidate a fox and beat it in a wrestling match).
Luzern is famous for its swans. In the winter they spend a lot of time in the fields- It so fun to see a field full of swans!
do you see that this guy is eating dandelions
The contrast between the rocky cliffs covered in brilliant white snow, and the soft greenest green carpet of grass blanketing hills and valleys is stunning. It can not adequately be captured. When the sun shines in Switzerland it is the most beautiful place on earth ( and people- I really love me some palm trees and tropical beaches but this tops-em).