Our first days here in Switzerland

Today is Wednesday, August 12. This is our 7th day living in Switzerland. We have almost completed a week. It has been a whirlwind… At times, busy and hectic. At other times, quiet and boring. For most of the past week, we lived in a shell of a house. We had suitcases to live out of, along with just a few built in cabinets and wardrobes purchased from outgoing ex-pats to put our belongings in. We had only the belongings that could fit into the 12 pieces of baggage that we brought on the plane ride here. We had air mattresses and foam mattresses borrowed from other ex-pat families to sleep on.

One or two of those mattresses also served as our only seating in our living room.

We didn’t have a television to congregate around. We did, however, each have at least one electronic device to bury our heads into I should not complain at all about the first 4 days here without our stuff, as most people I know experienced much closer to 4 weeks or so before their things arrived.

Two days ago, the container with all of the household goods we shipped from the USA arrived. The entire delivery process took 1 1/2 painful (for the movers) days. The could not get the truck with the container down our narrow street, so they had to park it elsewhere and shuttle smaller loads of goods to our house.

A crew of 5 men had to navigate the landscape stairs from the street down to our front door, and then, at times, stairs down to the basement or up to our 2nd or 3rd floors.

On hot days. With no air conditioning. Not only did they bring everything into the house and put it where we asked, they also put together every piece of furniture that required assembly. Considering the number of purchases we made at Ikea in preparation for this move, that is no small feat. A task that I assumed would occupy us for the first few weeks here is complete. We have beds. We have shelves. We have dressers. We have chairs. We have tables. We have a couch. Our house quickly transformed into our new home. A lot of work remains to put much of the stuff in its place, and figuring out where that place is, but the basic structure of the home is there.

This has apparently been one of the hottest summers ever in Europe, including Schaffhausen. We have a big tall house that gets a lot of sun during the day and has no air conditioning. It has been hot in our house. I think we have all been dehydrated since we arrived. I walk to work. I am going to sweat a lot in Switzerland, I have concluded. I selected the third floor for our master bedroom. I slept alone up there for the first 4 nights, due to the temperature. Vicki was not interested in sleeping up there in that heat, and it was cooler on the lower floors. Thought about purchasing a one room air conditioner, but the country of Switzerland is just about sold out of them.

Our home and garden/yard are really quite nice. We are up on a hill, so walking down to town is a whole lot easier than walking back home. The slanted yard isn’t great for practicing soccer skills or throwing a ball to Penny, and it is going to be work to mow, but its pretty.

We have kept in pretty close communication with the loved ones we left behind. Thank goodness for technology. We have used FaceTime to give lots of friends and family tours of our house and yard. The timezone difference makes the first part of the day pretty quiet, and then we go to bed when our U.S. friends are in the middle of their day. The kids communicating with their friends will get a little more challenging to schedule once school starts.

Our town is really beautiful and classically “European.” The Altstadt (downtown area) is just a few minute walk from home. Its full of beautiful old buildings, fountains, cobblestone car-less roads, shops and restaurants.

We have had a chance to get out and do a little more than just open boxes and put stuff away. Schaffhausen is right on the Rhine river. There is a swimming area built into the river called Rhybadi. We went there on Sunday. There are different sections with “floors” of different depths for the kids. There are also diving boards and, of course, a concession stand. It is a unique experience, being in what feels like a public pool, but getting moved along by a current and seeing fish in the water. Very neat.

Vincent has been the first to get involved in local activities. He had his first futbol practice the day after we arrived. He was very nervous. He was reluctant to get out of the car, reluctant to get out on the field. But he did. He couldn’t understand most of the instruction from the coaches in German, even though one coach speaks good English and would regularly check in with Vin, joke with him, and ask him questions. The sport is the sport, and he knew what to do with ball handling drills and scrimmaging. When practice was done, I was very proud of Vincent. He overcame his nervousness and fears and got out there. That is exactly what this whole experience is all about.
He also had his first on-ice hockey practice with his new team a day later. Once again, he got through the communication challenges and impressed us with his willingness to put himself out there.

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