Monday, April 30, 2012

When did you settle down?

This morning, I had a meeting at the unemployment office (sigh!) which meant that I was out without Coco for a little while. I took advantage and did things I can't do when I'm with my little bundle of love: I took my coffee with me in a travel mug, sat down on the tram and listened to music on headphones. I absolutely adore listening to music on headphones, and I had forgotten how nice it is to just sit idly and watch everything go by out the window of the tram. It's the little things!

I got to thinking about how much Zurich is really our home. I mean, I am so "in the system" here. I'm visiting the unemployment and speaking hacking away at German while I'm there. We've reached the point where we know the local customs. Hurry up in the checkout line, don't arrive somewhere even two minutes late, have cash at all times. I feel comfortable in Zurich; I gave birth to my child here! And yet we are not settled here. It's too far from family; I'll probably never speak German well and we want Coco to have an American identity so we can relate to each other as a family all from the same culture. If she grows up here, she will be Swiss and J and I are not. We will always be American; no matter how long we stay. So staying here beyond five years just isn't an option. Yet for now, it feels like home. Isn't that funny? It seems odd to me, and yet there you go. That's just how it is. I'm okay with the idea that we are settled just for now. I don't find it unsettling in the least. ;)

I'm curious, when did you settle down? Or have you? What factors mattered the most to you in choosing a place to spend your life? Have you always stayed close to home, or have you lived in other places? I'd love to hear about your experiences in settling down. Please chime in! xo

7 comments:

  1. I feel that way about Portland, a bit. It feels like home for now, but I know it wont be my home for ever...cause the Midwest will always feel like my real home.

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    1. I guess it's true that home is where the heart is - the metaphorical heart! ;) xo

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  2. So, yes, I am stalking your blog now. With the possibility of moving to CH, I can't help it! Anyway, this is such a good post. The first time we lived in Switzerland, it felt very temporary because we knew we'd stay no longer than 3 years. That meant that for 2 years we were living an adventure, not settled down, sort of in limbo. When we moved back to my hometown of San Diego, we thought we would settle down, and for us that meant buying a house. Here we are 3 years later, and homeowners for a little over a year and we are willing to sell the house and move back to CH in a heartbeat. Honestly, if the move happens, we think that we'd be moving back to actually settle down there. Weird to think it won't be in the US, but it's like you said in a previous post about living the American dream. It's not happening for us here, but we can certainly live that American dream in Switzerland. Sorry for the ramble... and an off topic question: what did you do about learning the language? We didn't make the best effort the first time around and want to do things differently if we get a second chance.

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    1. Wow!! That is amazing. How easy would it be for you to come back? It's been getting harder and harder to get a permit as of late. So if you can do it, go for it!!
      We have a really hard time as we go back and forth all the time about how long to stay. We are happy here, but when it boils right down to it, we want Coco to be American. And if she grows up here, she will be Swiss. So we see the summer before she starts first grade as the cutoff! ;) By then, I hope our youngest is two so I will feel comfortable and ready going back to work.
      As far as the language, J majored in German so he is fluent in high German. He can't understand or speak Swiss German at all. I can understand some Swiss German and a lot of high German. I'm learning high German with a friend who is a language teacher. But the city offers classes through the integration department with childcare. I might consider doing that, too. I think it's important to be able to communicate in the local language. That said, they'd rather speak English than high German in most instances, which also explains my laziness in learning German.

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    2. I don't think it's going to be very easy at all :( I have heard that about the visas and that is our main obstacle. I am almost positive hubby's old company will hire him back, but they will probably have to beg the Swiss government to give us visas. Our other option is Munich because the company has HQ there too, but CH is our first choice. I totally understand your feelings of wanting your daughter to grow up and be American. I am hoping that lots of visits home and from relatives will keep our son American enough, that is if the move happens, of course. Thanks for your response re language. We're considering Rosetta Stone in the meantime...

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    3. I think a lot of parents think the same thing, but from our experience as teachers here, I can tell you that it doesn't work that way. If you're going to raise your children in another country, you have to accept that place is where they'll be from. And as long as you're completely okay with that, then it will be great! :)

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    4. Good to know! We made friends with a family made up of an American mom, Swiss dad, and 2 preteen kids. The kids were Swiss through and through, so I know what you mean. When they went to the US for visits, they only mildly felt like they fit in. Their English was great, but they worried that their pronunciation was funny. But from my perspective, they were definitely American "enough." For now I think I am OK with the idea of our kids being just American enough to not totally stick out like a sore thumb while on US soil. For now... ;)

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