Five years in Switzerland
Exactly five years ago today (yes, St. Patrick's Day), was my Going Away Party with all my friends in Milwaukee. Two days later I would board my one-way flight to Switzerland with four suitcases and a dog.
I still can't believe it's been five years. And I still can't believe I live in Switzerland (it still sounds exotic!). I had barely left the US during the first 30 years of my life and yet in the past five years I've visited nearly 20 new countries (France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, England, Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand). I'm surrounded by so many different cultures and have met people from all over the world. I can drive to France for lunch. Sometimes we go to Germany just to buy groceries. I've lost count of the number of times we've visited Italy. It's such a cool environment/location and something I never would have experienced back in Wisconsin. Literally a whole new world opened for me as soon as I became an expat.
It was probably the biggest decision I ever made, but I've never regretted it. I quit my job of 10 years, sold my house, sold my car and left pretty much all my family and friends to move to a country where I barely even spoke the language. And all inspired by love. Cheesy, but true. (And I do love cheese - both Wisconsin and Swiss). The year before I moved, I had visited Switzerland several times and honestly it always felt like a second home. I knew I belonged here and that it wouldn't be scary or hard. And it wasn't. It was the biggest decision, but also the easiest. I found a job, met some great friends, learned the language and have never felt out of place. Perhaps, it's my German heritage, but this place feels like home.
I actually entered as a German citizen rather than as an American. My dad was born in Germany, but his family immigrated to the US when he was only a small child. Thus, while I didn't grow up speaking German, I was surrounded by the culture. And even though he had acquired US citizenship, we were able to go to the German consulate in Chicago and obtain German passports for both of us. That made acquiring a residency permit in Switzerland much easier. Apparently they prefer EU citizens to Americans. Go figure.
In addition to traveling the past five years, I got engaged, got married, said goodbye to my dog of 11 years and had a baby. I still miss my family and friends back in the US all the time, but we try to go back to the US twice a year and I've been lucky to have many visitors here. Plus, between social media, FaceTime and texting, I'm pretty much in constant contact with everyone anyway.
And I love the idea of raising children here. In addition to my five-year Swissiversary, today also marks our daughter's three month birthday. It's already gone by so quickly and my little newborn has been replaced by an active and alert little baby. I still have three more months until I return to work, so we plan to take her back to England (road trip!) and the US (10 hour flight with a baby!) to meet her extended family and friends. How cool is it that in the first six months of her life, she'll have already visited three new countries (not counting Switzerland where she was born)?! I never even left the US until I was 17, and that was a family vacation to Cancun, Mexico, which hardly counts. I love that she'll grow up speaking one language at home and a different language at school, that she'll be an experienced and confident traveller and that she'll be so much more aware and accepting of people from different cultures.
Today is also one year since I started this blog. I wanted a place to share things I love and document our adventures. Whether or not anyone reads it, it's been a fun place for me to record our life and do something creative. I can't wait to see what the next five years brings!