Friday, April 30, 2010

Things I Learned In Switzerland, Part 5

You can't really love being in a country and make fun of it's people at the same time.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Things I Learned In Switzerland, Part 4

Friends back home will always see living abroad as an adventure, even though 90% of the time you're still doing stuff like buying dishwashing soap, look for a parking place, and paying electric bills.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Things I Learned In Switzerland, Part 3

Generally speaking, when it comes to the Swiss, the French, the Italians, the Germans, and the Americans, all the stereotypes are painfully true.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things I Learned In Switzerland, Part 2

The French aren't that rude if you speak French, and no matter how fluent you are, the Germans still want to speak English with you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Things I Learned In Switzerland, Part 1

You can take your children to see the great cities of the world and introduce them to masterpieces of art and architecture and the highlight of the trip will always be the swimming pool at the hotel.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Things I Will Miss Most About Living In Switzerland

I could just as easily make a list of reasons I'm glad to be leaving Europe. But in the spirit of optimism and premature nostalgia, here are the top 10 things I've loved about the last two years:

1. Our friends and our kids' friends.

2. Still seeing snow on the mountains in August.

3. Eating chicken and fries at Chez Ma Cousine (my Potbelly's of Geneva).

4. Pain au chocolate

5. Seeing the Jett d'Eau on my way to work.

6. Being within driving distance of Paris and Milan.

7. The view above Vevey.

8. Four weeks of paid vacation.

9. Taking my kids skiing.

10. The lakeside pool at Nyon.

11. (bonus) Discovering smaller towns I'd never heard about before.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Well-designed money

What do you get when you combine a country known for its banking system and it’s clean design?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Design Miami/Basel

I doing some for a client who is a sponsor of Design Miami/Basel.

I’d never heard of this event, but after doing a little research, I really wish it were held earlier in the year so I could attend. Add one to my “Things to do in my lifetime” list, right behind SxSW and TED.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Swiss Experience

In the last two years, I have worked on a watch account, a couple save-the-world-UN-related accounts, and three different bank accounts.

Now, in my final month, I have been assigned to a chocolate account.

I’d say my work in Switzerland is finished.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Giving up on Recycling

The Swiss love to recycle. Paper. Plastic. Organic gunk for compost. You don’t just throw stuff away here. You sort it and put it in the correct container.

But when our family visits, we just give up.

Because under our sink, they see a container for regular trash and a container for compost. And next to the stove, they see a container for paper and a container for plastic and a container for glass.

And they quickly deduce that we are pigs and have five randomly placed garbage cans around the kitchen, and they throw stuff wherever it’s convenient. So we simplify and ask them to put everything in the trash under the sink, no matter what it is.

If you are an environmental activist looking for something to protest, come stand outside our apartment when we have loved ones in town.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


This Iceland volcano thing is pretty interesting - and I'm not just talking pronunciation. The skies around Geneva look perfectly clear, although it's said people with asthma will be able to tell a difference.

A co-worker of mine was supposed to be in England for her brother's 40th birthday, and still hasn't been able to travel.

Friends of ours are supposed to travel to the States for a brother's wedding next week, and they're wondering if they'll make it.

We had about three families attend our church meetings today who would have otherwise flown out a couple days ago.

And my in-laws have tickets to return to the States this Tuesday, and are thinking it might not be until Saturday. It wouldn't be a big deal, but they've got medication that runs out by the week's end. Makes me wonder how many other people are stranded and need access to their pills.

We're scheduled to move to Dallas on May 1st - thirteen days from today. Things should should be clear by then. Unless the bigger one erupts, too.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Swiss precision timing doesn't apply to leaving your job

If you ever want to quit a job in Switzerland, here's a tip: The sooner the better.

Many foreigners are asked to sign contracts stating they will give two months notice. Since it took us more than twice that to move from Chicago to Geneva, I figured it wouldn't be a big deal.

But when I finally gave my resignation, I was told that according to Swiss law, your resignation becomes official the month after it's given.

So even though I gave my resignation on March 1st, my two months notice wouldn't legally begin until April 1st.

Had I known, I would have called my CEO at home Friday 10:30 pm when I received my offer.

We're still leaving on May 1st. I've worked it out with my company so the that's not going to be a problem.

But the whole resign-by-the-end-of-the-month thing would have been nice to know.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Are Foreign Jobs Abroad Going to Foreign Workers?

Working on getting a passport for our newborn daughter. I’ve called the US Embassy in Bern and the US Consulate in Geneva a few times. Each time, the person who answers has a British accent.

Why are all these Brits working at the American Embassies? Are they Americans who are trying to sound European?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yep. We had a baby in Switzerland.

Last week, my wife gave birth to a baby girl – our fourth child, but our first in Switzerland.

Based on our experience, giving birth in Switzerland was very similar to having a child in the US, but with a French soundtrack. (My wife was pretty amazing with her language skills. If I were in labor, I’d have a hard time being fluent in English, let alone a foreign language.)
Where things really differed from our US experience was in the recovery room. In the US, we’ve always had private rooms. Here, my wife shared a room with two other new mothers. Visiting hours seemed more like a cocktail party. My wife kept referring to it as Baby Camp.

The other two women at Baby Camp were European, which mean they liked their room crazy warm. They were wrapping their kids in blankets in Sahara-like conditions, and my wife was letting our hang out in a onesie. The nurses couldn’t believe that my wife would give a pacifier to our newborn. Culturally, everyone thought everyone else was a nut.

In the States, new moms are usually given two days max to recover. Here, the doctors wanted my perfectly healthy wife and child to stay for five. She started campaigning to be released and was let go on Day 3.

In Switzerland, they weren’t too concerned with whether or not we had a car seat for the baby. In the States, they wanted to see the kid strapped and buckled in before you rode off.

Being born in Switzerland doesn’t make my daughter a dual citizen. I think she has to reside in the country for nine years continuously to be eligible. So it’ll just be a novelty to have “Geneva, Switzerland” on her birth certificate.

Also, our doctor looked just like Jacob from Lost. When he left to “consult with colleagues,” it was pretty easy to image that conversation taking place inside a giant stone foot.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Easter in Switzerland (and I'm assuming most of Europe) is celebrated 4x longer.

In the States, it was never a holiday I took time off for. It was Easter Sunday.

But today's my first day in the office since Thursday. The office was closed on Friday for Good Friday and yesterday for Easter Monday.

I'm going to miss that about these Europeans.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shopping at Lake Geneva

The Swiss have done a great job keeping Lake Geneva unpolluted. Except, apparently, when it comes to shopping carts.

Most supermarkets make you deposit a 2-franc piece to use things things. I guess at least two people decided that wasn't a big enough reward for returning them.