Sunday, January 07, 2007


We arrived in Zurich early on Saturday morning. My feelings as I walked through the airport were difficult to describe. I was nervous and excited, of course, but there was also this feeling of emptiness and expectation that accompanies the start of something brand new. When I moved from Berkeley to Scotland during my junior year of college, many important aspects of my life remained constant; I was still a student of anthropology at a large university in an English-speaking country. Now, I am beginning a new job as a nanny in a Swiss German-speaking country with vague goals involving planning a wedding and researching a future career. In other words, nothing is as clear or familiar as it once was.

Anyway, we are safe and fighting jet lag with Ambien. Our temporary studio apartment is decent but so small that our hunt for longer-term accommodations has become more urgent. I have realized that because we are so far from home, the new place must be one I want to come home to. I won't be particular about the square footage (or meterage?), but our Swiss abode must possess some unique charm or small luxury like a fireplace, rooftop terrace large enough for a container garden, or perhaps an inviting sofa. Mickey is more practical about the whole thing, insisting that location, amenities and cost are of utmost importance.

Whenever I feel homesick, I try to remember a fact my mother mentioned about the travelers of long ago. When immigrants from Holland, Ireland, Scandinavia and elsewhere moved to America in the early part of the twentieth century, they boarded the ship 'knowing that they would not come back,' she said. When they said goodbye to their loved ones, they knew it would be for the last time. Like those travelers, I have left my home country in search of a different life, but I have it so much easier. I live comfortably and did not have to fear getting scurvy on a two-month voyage across the Atlantic. More important, when I long for home or a familiar face, I can email or call someone or resort to a "comfort movie." Does anyone besides me have comfort movies? You must; if you are reading this, leave me a comment about yours. My comfort movies are those that I don't mind watching over and over again that make me laugh, recall fond memories and feel at ease. The Sound of Music, Wayne's World, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Bridget Jones' Diary are on my list. Anyway, Google and modern technology have made relocation comparatively easy.

One of the ongoing themes of my blog will be cultural differences between Switzerland and America. I will try to avoid the cliches we've all heard from anyone who's ever had a Eurail pass: 'the pace of life is slower in Europe, Americans rush' or 'the water served in restaurants is sparkling or mineral,' blah, blah, blah. I love the US of A and will never say that everything here is superior to everything there. Likewise, I'll try not to do the opposite out of homesickness or frustration.

That being said, I don't think I've been ordering the right items on Swiss menus. I can't bear being the person who is too picky to enjoy foreign cuisine, so we'll say that I cannot yet navigate a Swiss menu properly. Last night I ordered a "mango" margarita at a local bar. If kids drank margaritas, this would have been the kiddy 'rita; it was tiny, rimmed with sugar (not salt) and tasted like it had never touched a mango. Note to self: do not order a margarita in Switzerland. I'll probably have to learn this lesson again when Mickey and I explore Zurich's version of Mexican food. Anyway, I also bombed out on soup and pizza ("pepperoni" is peppers, not meat).

Photos to follow.


Amy said...

I'm so glad you are writing about your experiences. It's such a great outlet and we can keep up with your adventures at the same time.
While we lived in France certain things made me less homesick--like having my favorite lotion sent to me, reading an American magazine (even if it was one I wouldn't normally have read at home) and giving up completely on pizza as I knew it and any form of ethnic food.

Best of luck and keep posting!

allisonisfamous said...

Even though we have lived on opposite sides of the country for the past 4 years, I MISS YOU!

Nan said...

what a wonderful writer you are. I can't wait to read about this experience each day. I love hearing about the way others live. It makes that which unifies us all the more important and powerful. Love, kindness, growth, the human experience. I had to fool around with the computer for quite a while to be able to repsond to your blog, but it was worth it because I feel competent for handling it (thanks in part to Google assistance.)

feeneygirl said...

I love your comfort movies. Especially glad to see Ferris there. Also on my list: Sabrina( the original); Sleepless in Seattle; French Kiss; Continental Divide; Kissing Jesssica Stein; and Bridge on the River Kwai