Monday, April 8, 2013

Since moving to Zürich

I've now been in Switzerland for just short of 3 months - a time frame that seems absurdly short (Boston seems quite some time ago) and very long (shouldn't I have more accomplished by now?). I am still adjusting in a lot of ways, both to Switzerland and life post-PhD.

For 3 month anniversary fun, here are a random assortment of things I feel since moving to Zürich.

- I miss Boston's one-stream recycling. In Zürich, not only do we have to sort paper from cardboard from plastic from glass, but also there are often subcategories within each one. Everything must be flattened and often tied up in neat little bundles. Different categories are picked up on different days (don't get it wrong!), vary in frequency of pick up, and those that don't get picked up have multiple drop off sites.

This is at the local grocery store. Batteries, water filters, and clear plastic bottles - white ones go in a totally separate bin. Obviously. 
These are located at random places around the city. Separate bins for brown glass, green glass, white glass, tins, old kitchen oil, and other stuff I know I am forgetting. There are only certain hours that you can drop off, and no dumping on Sundays or holidays (too noisy).
This is where the bags in which you brought your glass/tin/other are placed. Everything make sense now? 
- All those US websites/pins about grocery lists or craft projects or budgets "for only xx dollars!" makes me want to punch those people in the face. Maybe where you live, honey.

- I have conflicted feelings about most stores being closed on Sunday. One has until around 4 pm on Saturday to run any and all weekend errands, which often makes for hectic Saturdays. But when Sunday comes around, I do love the quiet.

- Stores that are exceptions to the closed-on-Sunday rule should be avoided at all costs. The Migros grocery store at the Hauptbahnhof on Sundays is a dark, crowded, scary place.

- I need to be better at making time to email people - both those at home that I constantly think of yet fail to send a message to as well as new contacts here. I'm a social person at heart, and there is no substitute for good conversation or emails from friends.

- Normal interactions with people at shops and such can usually be gotten through with a fair amount of guesswork, even if I don't understand Schweizerdeutsch (or Hauptdeutsch - or if I can't even tell which one they are speaking). Guessing wrong leads to new learning experiences. Or just lots of embarrassment.

- Living in a place where you don't speak the native language is a constantly humbling and nerve-wracking experience. I may have a Ph.D. from Harvard, but to that Starbucks cashier who has to repeat his question three times to know whether I want my drink to go or for here, I'm just another idiot.

- Having this blog as a way to share my uncomfortable experiences gives me more confidence heading into situations ("Hey, at least it will be a good story!" has become my mantra).

- Taking German classes is important. Attempting to have conversation with classmates with whom German is the only shared language is even more important.

- Expat women here are wonderful, wonderful people. Every single one I've talked to has been warm, welcoming, sympathetic, and completely understanding of how tricky or difficult an international move (particularly one-way ones) can be.

- I am still holding out hope that there is a secret, magic store somewhere in this country that sells slow cookers/crockpots. 


  1. What - no slowcookers!? News to me.

    I just moved to Zurich this past week. Found your blog and it's quite fun to read!

    Like you, I decided to start a blog to keep family updated on my new adventure. You have a great sense of humor - you've found a new follower!

    Hope to connect with you sometime -


    1. Hi and welcome (and thank you so much!) I am so impressed at how on top of things you are - only a week here and you've already got your blog up and running!

      I'm a few posts behind due to being behind on my Camp Nanowrimo word count (although maybe I should count blog posts - they are words, technically), but I also was at Sechslautig! We didn't stay for the burning of the Boogg, though - I wilted in the heat while watching the parade and didn't have the stamina to handle the crowds.

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment and reaching out - if you have any questions - or manage to find a slow cooker - just let me know!

  2. Cocotte (Dutch oven)! If nothing else, day trip to France and pick one up. My cast iron dutch oven was the only pot I used for most of my time in Paris and you can do anything in it (including bake bread). They are not quite a crockpot, but they work with the same 'simmer on the back of the stove for several hours mentality'. The Staubs were easier to find than Le Cruset, but I can tell you exactly where to get one - but only if you go to Paris to find one :)