Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stuff I wish I would have brought with me

A very smart girl joined the Ex-pats in Zurich Yahoo Group BEFORE moving over here -what a brilliant concept! I wish I would have had the forethought to do that! I love my yahoo groups -(here's a shout out to Chix in Buisness:))! What a great way to ask your network questions, find out about local goings on, etc. I found out about the group on the plane ride over by the Amerian woman sitting next to me (thank you to whoever you are!). So I would definitely suggest if you move anywhere overseas you try to find out if they have something like this! It has been very helpful with normal everyday stuff AND we went hiking with a group we met through there last Sunday and had a wonderful time (I'll post pics soon I promise!). It was very cool to find out eveyone's "story" - why they were here, how long, their experiences so far! I've even joined a Supper Club!:)

ANYWAY, so someone wrote a post on the yahoo group yesterday that said - "I'm moving to Zurich from the States in 2 weeks - is there anything you wish you would have brought with you?" I posted my response below so if anyone ever asks me again I will remember. It is so fresh on my mind now since we just moved - I don't know if I would remember in a year!:) So here it is - oh yeah - and remember I only had 45 days to plan -so some of these things should have been a no brainer but I had A LOT ON MY MIND! :)
love ya, mandy

Email I sent:

Hi Sarah – where are you from? I just moved from the U.S. 3 weeks ago to Zurich and have a list of some things I wish I would have brought with me. I hope this helps!:
1. Travel books – go ahead and buy them – they are CRAZY expensive here in English
2. German Language/Translation books – I even had Rosetta Stone shipped after I moved – it has been very helpful (of course if you already speak German you are good to go!)
3. Ice cube trays!!!!
4. Bath Mats – this sounds strange but they are very expensive here - maybe 3 times as much as the US.
5. No one uses the dryer over here. I was told on my first day not to put my clothes in there. So everything is hung up to dry – I wish I would have brought a small drying rack as I live in a 650 sq. ft apartment and can’t find a small one over here - just large ones that I wouldn't be able to store.
6. Tupperware – they have it over here - it's just very expensive.
7. Depending on weight – I would say to bring toiletries – soap (I bought 2 bars of soap for $3 yesterday), feminine products, razors(!) they are very expensive, shampoo & conditioner), and any hair product you like! Also, over the counter medicine like cough drops and such - you have to go to a doctor over here to get them!
8. Other books to read – however someone did just tell me about a 2nd hand book store so that will help!
9. Backpack (trust me you will want it!) I never thought I was a backpack person but we ended up buying one the first weekend we were here b/c I couldn't take my purse anymore!
10. Good Hiking/walking shoes – very expensive over here
11. They also don't have a lot of choices in the way of salad dressing or marinades, so if you can buy the dry packets in a flavor you like I would suggest it.
12. Do you watch TV? If so I might suggest a slingbox and hook it up to someone in the US before you go. I thought I would just be able to watch the shows I missed online, but they block all non U.S. ip addresses so no luck with that!
13. Do you have Skype or a magicjack? I have a magicjack phone number and talk to my friends and family everyday in the US and it is just a local US number! Very awesome!

Stuff I'm glad I brought (I thought this might be helpful):
1. I do not have a car and use public transportation so I love love love my ipod!
2. Refillable Water Bottles - best thing I brought with me!
3. Recycled bags for grocery shopping. It's green AND they charge per bag you use at the grocery store over here.
4. Small blanket that folds up easily to take to the park, beach, etc - we have used it every weekend in Zurichhorn Park.

Finally, I would suggest buying most of your electronics over here – converters are like $40 each so it really wasn’t worth bringing stuff over. And I blew up a few things:)

I hope this helps!! Safe Travels!

Mandy

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Did we just break for ice cream?

Today we woke up to another beautiful day in Zurich! We didn't have any plans, so we decided to bike down to Zurichhorn Park again(like I said I'm a glutton for punishment) to lay out and people watch. I swear that is some of the best people watching in the world! This one guy totally pulled a MacGyver and attached an umbrella to a fishing pole then somehow propped it in his backpack so the umbrella would cover him from the sun while he walked! HA-FREAKING-LAR-I-OUS! I tried to get a picture but I wasn't fast enough and Nathan wouldn't let me run after him.:) Nathan likes watching all the girls change into their bathing suits right there in the park - the europeans are NOT modest that is fo sho!:) The only drawback is all the PDA - get a room people! Jeez!

So around 5 o'clock we decided to go see a movie. I will have to admit - I love how laid back we are becoming here. Going to a park then to a movie in the middle of the day on a Saturday? Crazy talk back in the US, but here - sure, why not? Anyway, we went to the Corso Theater on Theaterstrasse to see Illuminato (in English:) ) . Just so you know - 20 Fr. per person (basically $18) to see the movie. And I thought it was a rip off in Raleigh at $8.75! Anyway, so when you get to the theater you get to pick a section to sit in - the ground floor, the stadium seating section, or the balcony (each one is more expensive than the other, respectively). I didn't know this at the time, but you are actually purchasing a ticket for a specific seat. Pretty cool - I guess no waiting in a long line for the perfect seat for the sequel to Twilight:). Anyway, so we are about half way through the movie and the movie stops. STOPS. And a picture comes on the screen and says "Time for an ice cream!" Are you kidding me? Nope - not kidding. The "intermission" was about 10 minutes and I swear to you that almost everyone came back with an ice cream - to the theater! Wow - my Dad is going to LOVE the movies in Switzerland! They combine his two favorite things - ice cream and the movies! I mean I knew the Swiss loved their ice cream - seriously every time I turn around someone is eating a cone - but during the middle of a movie? Really? Can't they go 2 hours? Has anyone else ever noticed this or is it just me? Anyway, here's a pic of Nathan in the theater with our seat tickets, but I should have gotten a pic with everyone with their ice creams:)

Tomorrow we are headed to Quinten to hike - I'm turning into such the outdoors girl:) I'll let you know if we hike UP the mountain. I can't take another DOWN trip!

TTFN,
Mandy

Friday, May 22, 2009

Just another day, ya know......hiking through the Swiss Alps!

Yesterday was Ascension Day, a National Holiday in Switzerland, so Nathan had the day off! The Swiss take their Holidays very seriously - we were warned almost everything would be closed (including grocery stores - I think the US should take a hint from this kind of mentality) so we decided to go hiking in the Jungfrau Region. The Jungfrau Region is part of the Bernese Oberland (a mountainous area that rises to the south of two lakes) can be reached via Interlaken (which means between the lakes). Interlaken -the "adventure capital" of Switzerland- is about a 2 hour train ride from Zurich. We of course got on one of the earliest trains possible (you know Nathan) and landed in Interlaken around 9:30 am.


We then took a train to Grindelwald where we bought supplies for lunch and tickets to Kleine Scheidegg to see the peaks of Eiger (13,025 ft), Monch (13,448 ft), and Jungfrau (13,642 ft). From Kleine Scheidegg you can take another train to Jungfraujoch the "Top of Europe" (also the highest train station in Europe). From the Jungraujoch you can see out to the Black Forest in Germany, the Vosges, in France, and south into Italy. On a clear day that is! Today was very cloudy so we decided not to go to the top (it was also another 160 Francs which I compromised with Nathan to say "if we don't go to the top I want to buy tickets to Budapest"). He agreed so we stayed in Kleine Scheidegg - I think I might kind of regret being so close to the "Top of Europe" and not going but it was still an amazing view from where we were and I really don't think the view from the top would have been that great given the weather (at least that is what I'm telling myself). (They do have other touristy stuff up there though if you decided to go - which are probably cool - but whatever :)). Here are our pics from Kleine Scheidegg:
I couldn't resist!:)



View of Junfraujoch


From here we took a train to Wengernalp (6145 ft) to start out hike (we wanted to start in Kleine Scheidegg but there was still a lot of snow at that altitude). So we took hike #41 from Wengernalp to Lauterbrunnen (2612 ft) - straight down the side of the mountain. As in STRAIGHT DOWN the side of a mountain! I thought I was going to have to cut my left leg off at the knee b/c that wouldn't hurt as bad! We actually jogged the last 30 minutes b/c it hurt less than walking and b/c I just needed to get to FLAT land!!! We vowed to only do uphill hiking from now on - that's got to be easier - right? We're pretty sure we ate our lunch in the middle of a ski slope (which we thought was pretty cool - at least I did - I've never seen a ski slope when it was just grass) and I want to go back when we can ski to see the difference! The hike took about 2 1/2 hours and took us through the adorable towns of Wengen and Wengwald. Nathan commented that he had never seen a place like those. So cute and Swiss! Lots of chalets, no cars to be seen anywhere, children playing in the meadows, and lots of cows (and cowbells) - the simple life for sure! From there we hiked the final decent into Lauterbrnnen "the valley of waterfalls" and had a beer to numb the pain!:) Thanks Heineken - we owe you one! Here are some pics:
Start of Hike
View from our lunch spot - first pic is south to the mountains second is north to the valley
Just call me Heidi!
Cute little town of Wengen
View down to Lauterbrunnen

We're finished - let's drink to numb the pain!

Finally we trained back to Interlaken where we walked around the city for about an hour before heading back to Zurich. Walking around Interlaken brought back lots of memories as I had come here before in '98 with my girlfriends Erin, Sarah, and Jamie - good times for sure! We did a lot of the adventure type stuff then and I want to bring Nathan back to do a little of that soon! Nathan's two favorite spots were Hooter's and the Casino - go figure. He even made me take photos!:) We couldn't enter the Casino this time (b/c we didn't have our passports) so he wants to go back!

Front of Casino - they have a water show - just like the Bellagio:)
We were back by dinner - just in time to take SEVERAL Tylenol before going to bed! Another great day in the Swiss Alps!

~Mandy
p.s. - Yes we did wake up this morning with A LOT of pains in our gluteus maximus, quads, and knees. Nathan got up first to warn me so I went back to bed for an hour to avoid it - just thought you might want to know!:)
p.p.s. - So you might see that I have HOT PINK tennis shoes on in the photos. Yes - I know this screams American - oookkaaaaaaay!:) But I have a foot issue and these are the most comfortable shoes I could buy before leaving - so don't judge me:). I do wish they could have been a little more inconspicuous but .............that's not the way I roll!:)

LINK TO REST OF PHOTOS (if you want to see more).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Video of our new digs

Sorry guys - it's a little Blair Witch Project but I hope you like it! Several of you asked to "see" where we live so here's a video - all 650 square feet! Come visit!:)
love and miss everyone,
Mandy

video

Monday, May 18, 2009

Word of the Day

Word of the Day: Pferd (pron:Feared) Horse

Used in a sentence: Thank goodness my Rosetta Stone came last week and I did the first lesson, or I would have eaten Pferdsteak for dinner!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Does this look like my HAPPY face?

I will cut Nathan a little slack - he did tell me we lived on a "hill". Right - if the Swiss Alps are a hill! I mean - I guess I've seen the scenery - I should have known what I was getting myself into.
So here's the story:

We woke up from having a fabulous night out at our new friend's (Joy, Shannon and their little girl Elsa's) house. They were such great hosts! The food was unbelievable and we had so much fun talking about the trials and tribulations of being an expat in Zurich. It was nice to talk to someone who has been right where I am right now. They have been living over here for around 2 years - since Joy was transferred with her company - a little place called Coca Cola:). Anyway, we had a great time including lots of adult beverages, so I was a little groggy this morning. This is when it all went wrong. I'm pretty sure I wasn't thinking clearly when Nathan asked if I wanted to bike down to Zurich. Sure - why not -right? It IS such a beautiful day.....

Well - I knew I was in trouble when we basically glided very smoothly down hill for the 8 miles from Oerlikon to Zurich. Most people might have thought this was great! But all I could think was - crap we have to go back UP THOSE STEEP HILLS!

Did I mention that I haven't riden a bike since.....hell I don't even remember! And, I've definitely never riden this particular bike given to us by the infamous Zach Kinsaul (thanks Zach - make sure I thank you next time I see you:)). We shipped both the bikes over b/c I thought it would be fun to ride with Nathan - who rode all the time in Raleigh. Raleigh - which is basically -flat compared to Zurich. Why didn't I "train" in Raleigh? At least I could have ridden the stationary bike at the gym - but nooooooo - I'm just like sure let's ride to the bottom of the valley with a slight hangover.

Did I also mention that Nathan isn't much of a rule follower? I almost got run over twice - lots of honking - me going through a ride light. Good Times! I really need to learn what the signs here mean b/c I know Nathan doesn't care!:) There are buses, trams, cars, other bikes and even pedestrians coming at you from all directions! Every intersection is like 5 points in Raleigh - it's never just a regular 4 way stop. Also, there are all the tram grooves in the roads that your bike tires can get caught in - trust me -you don't want that to happen! Very nerve racking!

Either way, we made it to the park without getting killed. I know I was shocked too:) We rode all the way down to Zurichhorn Park. What a beautiful place - you get a Lake breeze and a view of the snow-covered mountains on the horizon. Hundreds of people were out enjoying the day (some were even crazy enough to swim - we were told the water was about 58 degrees F)! Great people watching and a nice place to relax after biking through the busy city. Here are some pics (to prove we really rode our bikes - that is Nathan in the orange shirt in the bottom left hand corner with our bikes):
I, of course, didn't want to leave. I KNEW what was about to happen next! The ride back UP the hills we just coasted down! NOOOOOO - please no - can we puh-leeeeze take a tram back? What do you mean we don't have any money? Can we take our chances on getting caught? Then, I think there was something like "strap a set on" said and we were off - on our bikes - back UP to Oerlikon. Yeaaaaah!:)

Did I also mention that I didn't really know how to work the gears? But believe me - after the first straight up little jaunt - I figured them out REAL quick! All 27 of them! (I also was almost thrown into traffic - but whatever:)).

We finally made it. But here is my question. Does this look like my HAPPY face?

So does anyone want to buy a bike?:)
~Mandy

Nathan needs a new Yob!

Yo..Yo...This is Nate. This is my first post since arriving into Zurich 2 weeks ago. There is no way I can compete with the humor of Mandy, but I will try to write when I feel like a man's view of the world is needed.

Actually it is Mandy that needs to get a yob to take care of Daddy Nate's wants and needs I love it here, but we are going to need to make alot more money to keep up with the Jones. The toys look so awesome...Now I need to find out how I can get me sum. I guess I need to work harder and smarter.

We had the fortunate opportunity to spend some time in Downtown Zurich yesterday. I always knew there was alot of money in Zurich, but I never new until I spent 4-5 hours on Banhofstrasse.

I counted 4 ferraris....3 lamborghinis...2 Bentleys and a Rolls Royce for Nathan's broke ass.

Here's some proof. For those that come over to visit, the people & toy watching is absolutely spectacular.



Friday, May 15, 2009

We can't leave the country - Sorry Mom!

So we are stuck in Switzerland - isn't that terrible?:) The whole thing has been kind of a mess. HR at ABB told Nathan that we needed to take 90 Fr. down to the Migration Office and get a "3 month return visa". SO - we stood in line for 1 1/2 hours and when we got up to the desk this is how the conversation went:
SIDE NOTE: Our VISAs only allowed us to enter and exit Switzerland one time. If we leave we can't get back in. Of course if we never got a VISA we could freely travel whereever we wanted to go on our U.S. Passports - crossing the Swiss border indefinitely if we wanted to- but details - right? (Oh yeah and if we didn't get the VISAs Nathan couldn't work - that's why we got them:)). Anyway...
Agent: (after she types our names into her system) "Sorry we don't have your permanent registration card information so we can't give you the return visa until we get that."
Nathan: "Here are our registration cards."
Agent: "Those are temporary registration cards. We need the permanent ones to get the information."
Nathan: "But the information is right here."
Agent: "No. I need the information from the governement. However, once you get the permanent one you don't have to come down here b/c that proves you live in Switzerland."
Nathan (mad voice): "What does THIS card do for us then (pointing to our temporary cards). We just stood in this line for almost 2 hours and we can't get our return...."
Mandy: "Honey, I don't think it is her fault. We must have gotten bad information. Can you please explain this to us one more time."
Agent: "Yes. We can't issue you a return VISA until we get the Permanent Registration Card information from the government. But in the meanwhile if you get the actual card you don't need a return VISA anyway so no need to come back down here. That cards proves you are supposed to be in Switzerland."
Mandy: "Okay, so how long does the Permanent Registration Card take to get?"
Agent: "About 2 - 3 months"
Nathan (mad voice again): "But I have to go to Finland in like 2 weeks."
Agent: "Come back when you have concrete plans and we will issue you a temporary return VISA for those plans."
Nathan: "Well, then I have concrete plans to go to Finland in 2 weeks."
Agent: (Laugh) "What exact days are you leaving and returning."
Mandy: (mean eye to Nathan then very sweetly to agent) "Okay, let me just get this straight b/c I am REALLY starting to get confused. If we get our permanent registration card we are free to travel. If we don't then every time we want to travel in Europe or US then we have to come back here?"
Agent: "You are free to travel around Europe as much as you would like."
Mandy: "Oh great!"
Agent: "You just won't be able to return to Switzerland."
Mandy (to myself) "*&$#*%! RIGHT - now I get it. Once we get the registration card we can travel but until then we are waiting on her to get the registration card info and if we want to travel before then we will have to stand in a 2 hour line to go anywhere outstide Switzerland. Yep. Got it. I think...."

MORAL OF THE STORY: We are stuck in Switzerland b/c we have to have our concrete plans at least two weeks in advance - which is kind of a bummer b/c it is either snowing or raining all over Switzerland this weekend and I want to go to the Italian Riviera!

Doesn't our life sound complicated?:)

We are going to try again for the Return Visa at the beginning of next week, because when I spoke to ABB's HR yesterday they told me that what the Agent said was incorrect. Who knows?!
I'll let you guys know when we aren't hostages anymore!
Mandy

p.s. - I forgot one important thing! While we were waiting in line I learned how to count to 10 in German! Isn't that great? It only took 1 1/2 hours!:) (I did also learn 11 and 12)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I needed to get out of the house...

so I went to this amazing park near Nathan's work (about a 10 min walk from our apartment.) No grass but so cool that I had to share pics! I love all the steel beams with the plants growing up (or down) them. What an inspiring place to work on Swagger stuff!

These first two pictures are from the top platform looking at the ground:


And the last two pictures are ground level. In the first picture you can see the platform at the very top that I had previously been taking pictures from!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Found the Home Depot!!!!

Well the Swiss version at least:) The "Home Depot" is combined with "Michael's" and is called the bau+hobby. Not too shabby either! It was pretty well stocked and I found all kinds of stuff I need and haven't been able to find! Yeah! It has been hiding underneath the grocery store I found on the first day - who knew? We bought a fan (thank god b/c we have been without A/C since we moved in - they think the windows and wind are enough - really? wtf - I don't think so!) Here are some pics from inside the joint - I thought you guys might want to see what it looked like:) Oh yeah - I looked up the translation of bau (means construction) and I figured out hobby by myself:) I guess that makes since now!:)

Monday, May 11, 2009

I think I just ate a Bologna Sandwich

Not 100% sure but pretty sure. I thought I was buying a ham sandwich - at least that is what the picture looked like:) After biting into it, I also found egg. I threw it out on my walk home, but I should have kept the packaging to look up the word and memorize it for all future sandwich buying! I just looked up bologna on Wikipidia and I think I'm going to throw up... This is what they had to say:
"Bologna itself is made from leftover beef, pork, turkey, and/or chicken. The meat is first finely chopped, with water, salt, seasonings, and other additives, the blend then is stuffed into casings, and then fully cooked, with or without smoke. It is very similar to a hot dog, excepting the shape."

Yuck. No wonder I haven't had bologna since I was 5. I don't eat hot dogs either for the same reason.

Other interesting things I bought at the grocery store today:
  • Mayonnaise (again I think it is mayo - there is an egg on the packaging) in what looks like a toothpaste tube. I'll let you know how it is.
  • Peach Yogurt - well I thought it was Peach Yogurt - I opened it when I got home b/c I threw out my sandwich but it is of a gel consistency - I'm going to let Nathan try that one first:) He has a stomach of steel.
  • Diet Coke! Yeah, Diet Coke! They call it Coca-Cola Light here but as always no matter where you go it looks and tastes the same! Thank you Coca-Cola. Thank you! And a bonus - with the conversion the .5L is basically 99 cents! So I can drink as much as I do at home!
So I have decided that I like to go to the grocery store here! (At home it was one of my least favorite things to do, but here it is kind of like an adventure:) You never know what you are going to find! Also, this is a good thing b/c I have to go almost every day - basically b/c I can't carry that much stuff the 1/2 mile I have to walk to the grocery store!
love and miss, mandy

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm taking a poll

Who thinks these boxes full of clothes:
Are going to fit in this wardrobe (which already has the stuff from my suitcase in it)?
I guess we will find out soon enough. Time to unpack the rest of this crap!

More Cow Bell!

We had a fabulous day yesterday in Lucerne/Luzern! We knew we wanted to go somewhere, but we also had plans to eat dinner at Nathan's boss's house (in Thalwil) around 5 pm so we decided to go to Luzern since it is only a 1 hour train ride from Zurich and Thalwil is on the way! We didn't do a lot of planning (busy week) so around 11 pm on Friday night we looked up the train schedule, typed Luzern into google, and figured we'd wing it!:) It was amazing how brilliantly this worked out!

When we got to Luzern we went to the Tourist Office outside the train station - I had read that there was a guided walking tour of the city and thought we could check into it. However, while standing in line, Nathan saw a picture of Mt. Pilatus and said "I want to go here"! Mt. Pilatus was marketed as "360 degree Switerland on Lucerne's doorstep". So when we got up to the counter we asked for details, found out it was about a 4 hour excursion, and with our half-pass card it was on 45 Fr. each! We were in! The only caveat - the lady looked at how we were dressed and said "Are you sure?" It was only 10 degree C (around 52F) at the top! Of course that wasn't going to stop us - I figured we could just buy a sweatshirt or something - we were here right? "

Note a VALUABLE LESSON - Always bring your jacket with you when traveling in Switzerland! The temperature changes frequently!

For those of you who know me - you will think this is funny. So we only had 15 minutes to find a store, buy a jacket, and get on the boat - so we found the first store, saw a rack of hoodies for 16 Fr. and it fit so we were off. The funny part is that once we left the store I figured out that the hoodie part had a bunch of cats and dogs on it and the tag read - "I LOVE ANIMALS!" - nice! My "token" from Luzern - I will be gifting this to someone when I get back to the U.S.:) Here's a picture b/c I know you won't believe I ever wore this:)
Anyway, the "Golden Round Trip " included a 90 minute boat ride on Lake Lucerne to Alpnachstad, from there a ride on the world's steepest cogwheel railway to the top of the mountain at Pilatus Kulm, and on the way back down a gondola to Frakmuntegg, Cable Car to Kriens, then a bus back to Lucerne. I don't think I've ever taken that many modes of transportation in one day in my life! At the top of Pilatus it was 2132 m or 7000 ft. Also, there was an amazing ropes course in Frakmuntegg which we wanted to do but weren't dressed for it. I'm sure we will bring visitors back here as it was breathtaking - so we will hopefully do it then! This was also the first time (that I can remember) that I heard the cows walking around with their bells - so Swiss:). They were EVERYWHERE! And of course Cow Bells always remind me of Will Ferrell - love it!:) Here are some pics:

On the boat:


At the base of Pilatus:
On the Cable Car/View from Cable Car:
Top of Mt. Pilatus:


View from Gondola:


View from Cable Car:
When we got back to Luzern around 2pm so we decided to do the 2 hour walking tour of the city before catching the train to Thalwil (I am married to Nathan Becker so no resting or downtime:)) Luzern is absolutely beautiful! Twos pics - The Water Tower and the City:

After Luzern we went to Thalwil to visit with Hakan (Nathan's boss), his wife Jasmin, and their two beautiful little girls Flurina (3) and Hanna(16 mos). They made us the most amazing dinner and answered all my Swiss questions!
Fabulous day in Switzerland!
love and miss you guys, Mandy and Nathan
ps - If you would like to see the rest of the pics, here is the link: http://picasaweb.google.com/yoswaggergifts/Luzern?authkey=Gv1sRgCIvImtSwk6nUQw&feat=directlink

Friday, May 8, 2009

I survived the first week

Even better for Nathan - he survived the first week without me killing him:). It was a close call at a couple of points but we are better now. I don't recommend moving to a new country when you have PMS:)

Let's start at the beginning. ABB has no relocation support for the relocating spouse - why is that? Nathan had his orientation on Monday and he has been coming here for over 5 years. Honestly this has been very frustrating. I guess no one in HR has ever had to relocate to another country or I'm hoping they would be a little more sympathetic. I would have appreciated even just a 1 hour meeting. Thank God for the internet - how did people do this in the 80's? I guess the HR budgets hadn't been cut back then and they ACTUALLY got an orientation. I will move on from this topic or you will be reading this for the next 2 hours....

Since we only had about a month and a half warning that would be moving it was a little crazy before we moved. I tell you this b/c I feel like I need to defend myself for not being more prepared. I had to focus on my business (hiring new employees, training the store manager, etc) instead of reading up on Switzerland. I didn't have time to do any research. I can't think of one night Nathan and I sat on our butts - b/c we also had to sell a lot of our belongings, rent our townhome, go visit family, etc. So with that being said....... Why the hell didn't I read up more on Switzerland? Why did I trust Nathan when he said everyone spoke english? Why didn't I ask any of my expat friends what they wish they would have known when they moved? The "Why's" could keep coming - believe me! I don't tell you this so you can feel sorry for me - I am telling you this so if you ever know anyone else who is moving our seas - give them my number or have them read this blog! If I can help just one person have a smoother transition it will make this week worth while.:)

A couple things we did this week in order to officially live in Switzerland:
1. Registered with our Kries (so the goverment knows where you are and where to find you). This was pretty painless except that we had to take "passport" type pictures without smiling. Are you kidding me? You know how big of a picture nazi I am! If I don't like a picture on YOUR camera I will delete it:) So NO - none of you are going to get to see this photo. I look like an ad campaign for botox (the before photo). Nathan looks like a terrorist though so I don't feel as bad:)
2. Opened a Swiss Bank Account. We couldn't go to just any branch. We walked into a UBS in Oerlikon and they informed us that only the Airport branch would take "us Americans". The process took about an hour and apparently if we move we have to close it - unless we want to give them about $25K - then we can keep it.
3 Bought our "half pass" for the train (that I'm still not 100% sure how to use yet). This allows us to travel within Switzerland at "half" the cost. Which is still expensive mind you. Our 30 minute train ride to Zug was $15 each! That is some expensive gas!
4. I have perfected the word "Gruetzi" - basically SwissGerman for Hello. That is what everyone says here when you see them. I must have done a good job b/c someone came up and asked me for directions - at least that is what I thought he was asking me. To which I said "No sprechen zie Deutsch".:) But it maid me feel good that he thought I could:)

Stuff I wish I would have thought of/done before I left the US:
1. Bought Rosetta Stone or some other type of German Language crash course. Thank you Carla for shipping me one ASAP!
2. Shipped over books to read. I guess it never dawned on me that all the books over here would be in German - duh!
3. Known about the fact that Hulu.com and all the american TV stations block downloads of their TV shows to overseas IP addresses. I would have also loved to have known about Slingbox - the device that lets someone in one country DVR TV shows and you can watch those TV shows on your computer any where in the world. But LATE is better than NEVER! Thanks Sara!
4. Thought to join a Zurich Expat yahoo group. The woman I sat next to on the airplane told me that that was one of the most beneficial/helpful things for her. I joined yesterday and have already found out a bunch of info!
5. Thought to ask everyone on FB if they had ever lived in Switzerland and to give me some tips!

Stuff that I am so glad we knew about/did before we moved:
1.Magicjack. Magicjack is a thing you plug into your computer and then into your phone so you can make calls for free to your home country. It does run through the internet so you need a connection, but our Magicjack phone number is a 919 area code so all our friends and family can call us without extra fees! Love it!
2. Of course I already knew about Facebook - but I LOVE IT even more now that I live in Zurich. It makes me feel like I am still so close to everyone. It would have been so much harder to do this before the internet or my phone bills would have just been CRAZY! Also, I was introduced to someone over here after I posted that I was moving - thanks Lisa!

Hindsight/Perspective/Stuff I wish I knew then that I know now:
1. I would tell anyone to not bother shipping over any electronics. My hair dryer was supposed to convert from 110V/240V with the push of a button, but it didnt't - and it blew our $40 adapter! Just buy the stuff where you live -that way you can actually plug the item into the wall! As far as I can tell the electronics really aren't that much more expensive over here - and you will have to buy an adapter anyway - which at $40 a pop (in 2009) ain't cheap!
2. They don't have closets in most of Europe - they have wardrobes - which are quite small. That would have been a nice bit of info to have. I probably wouldn't have shipped over 200lbs of clothes..... And as my sister asked - if you don't have drawers - where do you put your underwear? Good question Marla - I'll get back to you on that - right now they are in the cardboard shipping boxes:)
3. When they tell you to they are going to let you ship 500 lbs of stuff - it is b/c you don't have enough room for anything else:) Get rid of half your stuff then get rid of half the stuff you have remaining - at that point you will still have more than you need but it will be manageable!
4. Buying my one Europe travel book was a good idea! Again - the ones here aren't in english:)
5. Have a good sense of humor - you are going to need it! Not being able to buy groceries efficiently was an eye opener.
6. I brought a cook book, but I realized that I will have to do all the converting to metric b/c that is what all my cooking supplies are in, so I think I will just use the internet so they can convert for me!

My Favorite Thing I Learned This Week:
So yesterday I wanted to go to Old Town in Zurich and was trying to find directions. I wasn't sure how I was going to use them though b/c we don't have a car. WELL the cool thing over here (that maybe some of you already knew but I didn't) is that you can choose how you want your directions: By Car, By Public Transportation, or By Walking. Cool, huh?! I hit the public transportation button and it gave me a couple choices - by Train or by Tram. The train seemed more direct so I chose that one then it gave me the next available time and then directions on where to walk once I arrived at the right train station! Thank you GOOGLE - you rock!

Here is a picture from my outing. If you can see - the guy in the left hand bottom corner really loves his city - he tattooed it across his back - nice!:) Sorry Mary Helen - I didn't hear the 3 clocks b/c I was listening to my ipod! I will go back and try again:)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Word of the Day

Since I know ZERO German at this point, I am learning as I go. I thought you guys might want to learn a word or two with me, so:

Ziehen: Pull - as in -Pull the door open or you are going to run into again Mandy.

and for that matter

Stossen: Push

Sweet Home Alabama......Wait, What?

Last night Nathan and I went to dinner in Zug with Letha McLaren! I couldn't believe it when we saw her on our flight from Atlanta to Zurich. Letha and Mike are old friends from GT and unfortunately I don't think I have seen them since their wedding 8 years! We all wanted to catch up, so I got her number on the plane and this morning I called her to see if we could do dinner. She said yes, so we took a train to Zug where she is working. (The train ride from Oerlikon was about 30 minutes).

Zug is beautiful. Quaint town about 30 minutes south of Zurich on Lake Zurich. Definitely different than Oerlikon:) After we go off the train we walked to the lake to pick a place for dinner. Below are a couple pics. Nathan especially loved the deer. Yes - I said deer. They were fenced in like someone's dogs. Kind of funny but we saw this in Australia too. Nathan wants to know if people keep them as pets here? :)

We ended up picking an Italian place near the water. This was the view from our table:

Not too shabby! We all ordered pizzas which were amazing! I wish I would have looked at the name of the restaurant so I could tell you guys!:) What I thought I ordered was a Pepperoni and Steak Pizza but I forogt that when they write pepperoni they mean peppers:) It was still amazing - the "carne" was fantastic! Not sure what made the sauce so good either but wow I want to go back! So while we were eating, these two guys from Italy and Peru came around with a tip jar and asked if we wanted to hear anything. We had heard them playing "Johnny Be Good" when we first sat down (which was funny itself) so Nathan tried to stump them with "Sweet Home Alabama". In their broken english they said "Okay" so it was on. See the video below - pretty funny - I love the saxophone! I guess you don't have to know english to memorize the tune and the words.:) The singer came over afterwards and asked how he did. We of course said "Excellent!" - he was very excited b/c he said he was really trying to pronounce the words correctly!

video

All in all - great night! Thanks Letha! We hope to see you next time you are "in town"!
TTFN,
Mandy

ps - as I am writing this I am eating the nonrefridgerated eggs from the grocery store - I'll let you know if I get sick:)
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