Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Citizen of the world

I've been here a week and I'm pretty sure the only legitimate Swiss person I've met is a guy I used to work with in Toronto.

Maybe once you get out of the vicinity of the building with all the flags and into the countryside, you'll find more yodeling and lederhosen. But this place is a magnet for people from all over the world.

Today a guy from West Africa stopped me to take his picture in front of the Jet D'Eau. You could tell he was as pumped by the whole thing as I was.

Stuff gets done here. Important stuff. And it's pretty cool to be even a tiny part in it. I think we both felt it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Great Apartment Hunt

What do you get for $3,000 in downtown Geneva?

I saw my first apartment tonight and the answer is decidedly, not much.

Less than not much, actually.

My first viewing was a largeish, 5 room apartment wedged above a dry cleaning shop and a pub. It was remarkable for being wrapped entirely in scaffolding, since workers were busily adding two additional floors to the building.

Like that'll be quiet.

So the search will continue.

In other news, I saw my first Saint Bernard. Should have asked it to find me an apartment.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Swiss Miss in Francey Pants

For the next week or so I'll be living in France and working in Switzerland -- a situation made all the easier by the proximity of the thriving little community of Ferney-Voltaire to the relative metropolis of Geneva.

From what I can tell from yesterday's market day, Ferney's 8,500 inhabitants are engaged solely in the business of baking bread, making cheese and crafting different varieties of tapenade. In short, they are good people.

Plenty of folks working in Geneva-- most of them EU residents -- make living in France a full-time thing, primarily because the cost of living and the cost of goods are so much less expensive here.

How much less? Let's just say that it wouldn't be unusual to spend $30 CDN on a salad for lunch in downtown Geneva.

This is one of the reasons why I'm glad I rented a studio with a little kitchen. That and the fact that having a kitchen allows me to troll the markets and grocery store aisles for new products -- one of my favourite things to do. I already have a new favourite brand of yoghurt.

Yet when it comes time for me to secure my own place, I'll need to look around the cantons of Geneva -- even though the cost of a one bedroom apartment will easily set you back $3,000 CDN a month.

I've already been warned. Geneva's .02% vacancy rate and captive audience of bureaucrats makes for slim pickings in the rental market.

There are often multiple applicants for the same unit and each applicant need submit a dossier containing proof of salary, a note from their employer and letters of reference. I'm thinking of adding a picture of my cat and a bag of Twizzlers.

Send good apartment vibes. I think I'll need them.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Moving on up

This blog is about to get interesting. Well, at least I hope it is.

On Monday I'm moving my Mom into a retirement home while I get ready to move myself across the world to the land of yodelling and dark chocolate to work for the organization with all the flags.

It's a big deal.

But anyone who know me, knows that getting to this decision has been one of the hardest things I've ever done.

I've been presented with my made-for-me dream job during a nightmarish time with my Mom. Middle stage Alzheimer's isn't for sissies. It's the biggest lesson in patience I've ever been taught.

Yet, no matter what I choose, it's not going to end well for my Mom. Staying here won't halt the inevitable, though it might ease it some. Moving her into a retirement home would have happened soon enough anyway. She can no longer handle even the most basic decisions.

Still, despite plans to return every 4 to 5 weeks, leaving the country fills me with such guilt.

Surprisingly -- or maybe not -- some of the most comforting words of reassurance have come from my hairdresser and the mother of a girl I used to work with. Funny how wisdom comes from different corners.

Somehow their perspective, their objectivity and their compassion have penetrated my anxiety and have helped me move forward, when I'd really rather wedge my head between the sofa cushions and weep.