Archive | September, 2012

My first few days as a Swiss Miss

30 Sep

I have been in Zürich for a few days now. I seem to have got my bearings a bit and know roughly where I am going and what’s happening so much so that three people stopped and asked me for direction on Thursday which must mean that I look like I belong here. So far so good!

Here are the highlights of the last few days.

Wednesday 26th

This was the day that I flew out to Switzerland and said Auf Wiedersehen to Großbritannien. I had a few things to sort out in the morning before I left like going to the bank, nip to the letting agents to drop off an extra key and getting some passport photos done in case I needed them for anything when I got out there. It felt like there was a bad omen in the air as everything went wrong. Literally everything. The letting agent didn’t open until after 9.30, the bank was shut until 10 for staff training and the passport booth I went in was out of order. I saw the funny side of this but my mum didn’t, who then went on to chastise me for 45 mins about how I leave stuff to the last minute.

Anyway everything got sorted in the end and before I knew it mum was dropping me at the airport and saying goodbye. I was a bit worried about the weight on my case as I was sure that I was over the luggage limit. And indeed it was. Luckily for me the check-in desk lady wasn’t a job worth and I managed to get it checked in without having to pay excess. Result! Things were getting better!

Having whizzed through security I had plenty of time to think at the Airport which isn’t always a good thing. If you could hear my internal monologue for that hour and a bit before I boarded it would have sounded something like this: ‘Oh my God! This is it. This is actually it! You are doing this, you are aren’t you? Nice one girl!’

The flight was delayed slightly which was really annoying especially as we had boarded the plane and were left sitting on the tarmac waiting to go. But, because the Swiss are just so lovely, they came round with drinks and chocolate for everyone while we were waiting. You don’t get service like that on budget airlines!

Arriving at Zürich Airport and my new home I was met by the relocation consultant who I’d been in contact with and she drove me to the apartment that I am going to be living in for the first month or so before I find somewhere more permanent. The apartments are newly built and I think that I am the first person to have stayed in the apartment because it doesn’t look like any of the pots and pans and things have been used, or if they have someone has given them a right good scrubbing! A nice Swiss man showed me and the relocation consultant round the apartment. It’s always a little embarrassing having someone show you how the microwave works and the TV. You sort of want to say ‘Yes, we have those in my country too!’ This did get more embarrassing by the fact that he was showing me how to get the channel listings up on the TV and, all of a sudden, I shout out ‘ITV1 AND 2???’ Neither of them knew what ITV1 and ITV2 are so they just gave me a very strange look and then pretended they hadn’t notice me say anything.

I decided to nip out to the supermarket because by the time I’d been shown round it was after 7 and I was hungry but more importantly I needed a brew. The tea bags weren’t the issue as I packed 400 of them. It was milk I needed. I was dusk but I thought that there was no way that I could get lost if I just stayed on the same road. Wrong! I found the supermarket really easily, after about only 10 mins of walking and I thought that I should carry on a bit because I had nothing else to do. Well, I got a bit disorientated and ended up wandering around for about an hour and a half trying to find my way back. Luckily I had remembered the name of the street that I was starting on (can’t really forget the street name Hofwiesenstrasse but can’t really pronounce it either.) By the time I got back I’d earned my brew, especially as it would have been quicker to find a cow and milk it!

Thursday 27th

Thursday morning I woke up as a resident in Zürich. But I had to make it official by registering with the authorities and getting my resident’s permit. Zürich is divided up into Kreisbüro and you have to register with the Kreisbüro that you reside in. Unfortunately, my first attempt resulted in me going to Kreisbüro 11 when in actual fact I needed to register in Kreisbüro 6. It was a bit of a pain because I’d wasted an hour or so going to the wrong place. It was easy to find the right place and the whole process of registering was pretty simple. I had to ask a few questions about what I did and where I was from and show proof of my employment contract. So by lunchtime there was no going back – they had accepted me as a resident of the City!

After lunch I set up my very own Swiss bank account. I was dreading this a bit to be honest because I thought it would be a very rigorous process with question after question. But it was straightforward and done it a matter of minutes. It also helped that the woman serving me was American so there were no problems with any language barriers.

I spent the afternoon getting to know the area a bit better and getting to grips with public transport. Basically the public transport here actually works and is always on time. I headed to the centre of the City and had a wander around. I’m lucky that I have been and stayed in Zürich before and I actually recognised a few places that I’d been to before. The weather was glorious and I was gutted that my sunglasses were in my main luggage that wouldn’t be delivered until I’ve found somewhere permanent to stay.

In the evening I went to my first Swiss hockey training. I had been on contact with a team called Red Sox before I left England. I managed to find the pitch ok and was actually blown away by the sports facilities. There were about 6 astro pitches, an equestrian centre and tennis courts! The actual training was in German but there was another British girl there who has been living in Switzerland for about 3 years so she kindly explained to me what the exercises were. I don’t mind not being 100% ok with the whole language thing because it means that I will make more of an effort to understand. I think the more I immerse myself in German the quicker I will pick it up. That’s the theory anyway. I was really glad that I made it to the hockey practice because otherwise I would have been really bored sat in doing nothing and it was good to have a run around!

Friday 28th

As yesterday I had sort out all the admin stuff that I needed to do, I decided to go for a walk down Bahnhorfstrasse which is the main shopping street in Zürich and apparently one of the most expensive streets in Europe. And looking at the prices in some of the shop windows, I can well believe it. I went looking for a bookshop that one of my friends mentioned to be which is called ‘The English Bookshop’. It was easy to find and all the books were in English so I could have a really good browse at all of the books. Spending a good few hours in a bookshop is one of my guilty pleasures so it’s good to know where it is for future reference. The bookshop also sells some English products like Birds custard, Lyons treacle and HobNobs! I am going to try to embrace the Swiss culture as much as possible but it is good to know that the shops stock some English produce if I get desperately homesick.

In the afternoon I was looking round an apartment that a colleague is moving out of in the next month or so. She had already sent me the pictures of the apartment and it looked really nice. When I got there I couldn’t believe it. It is about 7 mins by tram from the centre of the city, the public transport is really good in the area and the location seems to be really quiet and just a lovely part of the city. The apartment itself is really lovely and the pictures that I had been sent over didn’t really do it justice. I decided to take the apartment because I am a bit eager to get somewhere sorted so that I know that I have somewhere to live so I will be moving there at the start of November. I can’t wait. I can really see myself living there and settling in well there.

In the evening I was going to stay in and have a quiet night but someone that I met on the internet who has just moved to Zürich as well sent me a message asking me if I want to go for a drink. [I know that this sounds a bit dodgy but really it isn’t. We met on an English speaking Swiss forum and it turns out that he is from the same area as me and we have some mutual Facebook friends. Which goes to show how small the world actually is.] I really didn’t feel like going out but I did anyway. He had been really helpful in answering some (stupid) questions that I had about moving over and Swiss life in general so I thought it would be good to meet him in the flesh. We met up outside Zürich HautBahnhof (Zürich main train station) as it was a good place to meet and wandered to a little Swiss bar down a cobbled street. It was really nice to meet someone who was in the same situation as me and we both got on really well and have the same sort of outlook on life. Before I knew it 3 hours had flown past and it was my bedtime. I’m sure that I will see him again. He was a really nice, fun, friendly guy and was really easy to get to know.

Saturday 29th

After all my gloating to people back home and all the email pictures I sent home of Zürich basking in the sun, the weather turned today. I had planned to go to the street market in Oerlikon that I had read about which is about 10 mins from where I am staying but I really didn’t want to get wet (my umbrella wouldn’t fit in my luggage so that will be staying at home in the UK until my mum comes over with her big suitcase!). I was hoping that the weather would clear up in the afternoon so that I could go for a walk around Lake Zürich, or Zürichsee as the locals call it, but it never happened so I stayed in the apartment and tried to learn more German. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be going in. I think I just need to be a bit more patient but that’s sometimes easier said than done.

Sunday 30th

Today the weather was a little bit better but not very warm and a bit cloudy over the city. I went for a walk in some woods near to where I am staying and I discovered something called the Helsana trail. From what I understand there are several of these trails set up around the city and circuits are marked out. So you can bike, run or walk around whatever circuit you want depending on how energetic you feel. The circuits start at 3km and move up to 5km and some of them are 14km. There are also sort of exercise stations so you can do some pull ups or other exercises and there are stretching stations as well where there are signs with ideas of stretches to perform.

The trail was actually quite busy and I even past a man with a horse and cart. I sort of regretted not taking my running shoes and kit and having a bit of a jog but I will definitely go next weekend, if not before. I also saw a red squirrel in the trees. I’ve only ever seen a red squirrel once before and that was in the Amazon rainforest (I think he was on holiday or something). It moved before I got a chance to take a picture though.

So all too quickly it is now time for work tomorrow. To be honest I am looking forward to it. After all, that is the main reason that I have moved over here. I think that exciting times lie ahead. I just hope that I’m right and you check back to see that I am too…

Time flies

24 Sep

6 weeks ago today I found out that I was moving to Zurich with work. 6 weeks until the move date seemed like a long time and it felt as if I had all the time in the world to sort out my life here in England before moving out to Switzerland and start a brand new adventure.

It feels like I have barely had enough time to sort out cancelling my car insurance and mobile phone let alone having a chance to say goodbye to all my friends. It has been fraught but, two days before my one-way flight over there, I feel surprisingly calm about things or maybe it’s a bit more accurate to say that I’m a bit like a swan; all calm and elegant on the surface but below the surface I’m kicking like my life depended on it.

Lots of people have told me how brave I am for moving out there not really knowing anyone and having to start afresh completely on my own but nothing ventured, nothing gained as someone once said to me. What is the worst that could happen? I can just move back if things don’t work out as I planned it or things just don’t feel right. To be honest I don’t think this is likely to happen. I think the worst that will happen is that I’ll eat so much cheese and chocolate that I can’t fit in my plane seat on the way back home to spent Christmas with my family. I’m really going to have to make sure I don’t go mad like a kid in a sweet shop.

So now all my belongings have been packed up and shipped off and I am literally sat here writing this in the only outfit that is not packed away, I’m just counting down the minutes until I get to the airport and my big adventure begins. Wish me luck!

Welcome to my blog

11 Sep

Welcome to my new blog.

Check back for more updates soon.