That Nemo Snowstorm on the East Coast Has Nothing on Daily Life In Switzerland!

Snow can be really beautiful and wonderful. However, most of the time, the only things I think to myself when it snows is “Oh crap, it’s cold!” and “Damn, now I have to go dig out my car.” I know, I know, not exactly the positive and upbeat attitude I claimed to have when I started this blog. What can I say, winter brings out the worst in people! It’s just been a really snowy winter here with no end in sight. It’s snowing right now as we speak!

So last weekend, as my family and friends on the East Coast in the US braced to be hit by the big snowstorm called Nemo, we Zuri folks also faced the snow head-on! Ten of us packed our bags and visited Grindelwald (an adorable little town in the Alps) to celebrate our friend Dan’s 30th birthday. To honor him and his birthday, I stole the really cool pictures that he took and I’m posting them here 🙂 (Okay, obviously I only stole them because they’re AWESOME and he’s a WAY more talented photographer than I am, but didn’t it sound nicer when I pretended that I did it for him??).

So while most people were being all sporty and active and doing crazy things like skiing, I sat around the Chalet, ate a lot, and got a massage. The one attempt I made to be active didn’t go so well. Florian and I snowshoed for about an hour and a half and then I had to nap for 2 and a half hours immediately afterwards. I’m not sure if that ratio is normal or not…. And sadly, 4 days after Florian and I went snowshoeing, I’m still in pain. You can probably tell based on how boring this post is that I’m honestly too darn tired to write anything exciting. Sorry ’bout that.

But before you feel bad for me and my out-of-shape body, feel bad for poor Bella!! She had to take a scary cablecar all the way up to the tippy top of a very tall mountain. I think her face communicates exactly how she felt about that!

And back at our hotel, she could barely see over the piles and piles of snow, let alone have the opportunity to run off and poop in privacy. It was a rough few days for her.
 

Designing My New House: The Kitchen

As a good Swiss would tell you, there’s no such thing as planning too early. And with that in mind, I’ve been slowly planning my house that will be built in… oh… a year from now! But in fairness, building a house and determining every single tiny little minute detail is going be completely and utterly overwhelming for me. Other people LIVE for this – the idea of decorating and designing all day long! Me, I’m more the kind of girl who actually never pays attention to any house details whatsoever. I can visit a house 5 times and still not be able to tell you the color of the couch, let alone the details of the faucets or what shade of faux wood the floors are.

So with that in mind, I turned to other people’s genius in home design for some ideas I can steal and pretend were my own. First, a little background: we have a huge open first floor with kitchen and living room and dining room areas all open. We are going to have a medium-dark hardwood floors all over and most likely all walls will be white. Now, here’s what I’m thinking for my kitchen. PRETTY PLEASE, if you know anything about this stuff and have some advice, TELL ME!!!! Lisa=needs help home designing!


This is the shape of our kitchen (with an island) and I like the placements of the fridge, stove and ovens in the pic below. I’m also thinking white cabinets and a gray granite countertop. Still undecided on the backsplash… thoughts?

Can’t decide if I should go dark gray or light gray granite

Debating not having cabinets and just putting these pretty shelves like this kitchen has on the left-hand side.
Or if we do have cabinets, maybe have them see-through so it doesn’t make the room feel too top-heavy in the big open space. Problem being that then I actually have to keep everything looking pretty and clean inside those cabinets!
I love the kitchen sink/miniature bathtub thing. I need it big because I’m the person who leaves dishes in the sink after dinner. Also totally love brushed chrome for faucets so you don’t see every single water drop and finger print!
As I plan more, I’ll share more about the house. 

An Ode To Facebook Graph Search (Plus The Hilarious Searches That Lead To My Blog)

This week brought with it the meme seen ’round the world about actual Facebook Graph search results. Sidenote: I hate that everyone uses the word meme. Nobody can ever pronounce it, it’s sort of hard to define, and I just think we could come up with something better. Anything is better. You’ll probably love the “Mothers of Jews who like Bacon” search as much as I did.

But actually, I finally got access to graph search and played around and it just wasn’t that exciting. I tried to bust some friends for liking Justin Bieber but nothing showed up. Way more entertaining to me is when I, just like every other blogger,  obsessively  occassionally look through my blog web analytics and see what terms people have searched to find my blog. Of course, many of the searches are normal and boring people are just searching for things like my name or Zurich or something common like book recommendations. But there are a few gems that seriously make me laugh, moan, groan, and feel the urge to share publicly.

  •  already married etiquette wedding: I mean, they probably meant that they had been married once before but got divorced or something, right? And not that they’re currently married and planning a wedding to another person?
  • If you won the lottery speaking activity. I want to meet the guy who is so confident he will win the lottery that he’s already preparing his speech.
  • mozel for real. I don’t even know what this means but I imagine one of the guys from the Nice Jewish Guys calendar were trying to be pretty fly for a white guy.
  • bitches zurich: Did anyone else in their heads just tell Schmidt he has to go put a dollar in the Douche Bag jar right now?? 

  • freddy krueger face. And there were two different searches using these terms! 

  • women belong in the kitchen. Definitely a guy from Arkansas or West Virginia. Definitely going to be divorced at least twice. Probably is a prison guard or at least owns several guns.
  • as a woman i believe i should just be a housewife: OMG OMG OMG I should start a dating service here! Ms. Women Should Be Just A Housewife, meet Mr. Women Belong In The Kitchen. You’re welcome, please invite me to the wedding.
  • why would a dogs half face paralysis and half face paralyzed: TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE VET ASAP. Or if you’re the 2 people that searched “half face paralyzed” and didn’t include the word dog, take your mom or sister or whoever to the hospital. Seriously? GO! Google should not be used in cases of medical emergencies!
  • i’m an adult and parent’s don’t let me stay out late. I suspect it’s a 20-something with no job who’s sleeping on the couch and gaming during the day. Rough life, having your parents still pay your bills and cook your dinner and do your laundry.
  • never let me go is overrated. Sounds like someone got schooled at book club and wanted some witty comebacks for the next meeting to discuss exactly why this book was so bad. Or they wanted to know if they should just watch the movie instead of reading the book?
  • housewife cute dog. Sounds like the start of a bad online dating ad or a cheesy RomCom. Or both. But still goes with my idea of monetizing my blog as a dating website. Score! Because the RomCom version didn’t work when they tried it, even when it was starring John Cusack!!!                                                                                                                   
  • hot housewife party. This one got me really curious, so I googled it myself. Turns out my suspicions were right, the search turns up mostly porn! Most men probably imagine Hugh Hefner’s house as a good example of how women should act.
  • dumb people. Should I be offended that this lead to my blog?
  • aunty pregnant by nephew. Jerry, Jerry! 

Why I Created A New Resource Website For Expats in Switzerland

Let’s start by admitting that moving to a foreign country was WAY harder than my daydreams led me to believe. Of course I envisioned the long European coffee dates and strolling around the adorable downtown of Zürich. I pictured becoming an amazing skiier and breezing through the Swiss Alps and, let’s be honest, I imagined I would eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.

Then reality hit. Everything I knew and loved and defined myself by was no longer there. In America, I understood how to take a book out of the library, how to call a doctor when I was sick, how to check my bank account online and how to find the bleach at a grocery store. Luckily, there were websites and social groups to help me answer those frantic “I’m-obviously-new-around-here” questions here in my new hometown in Switz.

But then, I started getting greedy and asking for more. How do I volunteer for a non-profit organization? Where do I find a triathlon club to train with? Maybe I want to pursue a new career path – where can I go back to school? Well, that proved quite a bit trickier to find those answers. Half were in German, natives had no idea how a non-native would approach these things, and most Expats hadn’t found an answer themselves to be able to give advice to the new ones.

The truth is, no place existed that had those deeper answers. Yes, I need to adjust to my life here, but I also need to live here like I live here and not just like I’m a short-term visitor here. Expats have trouble here in Switzerland, integrating into daily life. They often suffer depression and anxiety plus expat wives are the #1 reason expat husbands return home before their international assignment is complete. I’m not blaming or judging, I’m looking at facts. What can we do to make ourselves happy here? What is missing that we had in our previous lives?

And that’s the problem that GettingBusy.ch solves. We’re not just a social meetup that keeps you busy on a Tuesday night. We’re a bunch of problem solvers who help you find out how to pursue your passion here in Switzerland and make the most out of your life here every day. Love your life! Wake up excited because you are in control and know how to look for a job, find an organization to volunteer with, or coach a children’s sports team. The possibilities are endless once you have the resources and know where to start looking.

Here’s my welcome letter I have on the website that explains a bit more:
—–

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
 A big hello to all my fellow English-speaking expats in Switzerland!
I’m so glad you’re here. No, really! You see, we have a special bond that nobody else in the world can truly understand. Nobody else will laugh quite as hard about a cow joke as we will nor will they understand how frustrating it is to be just 30 seconds late and face all those disapproving glances.
I know, it’s not easy to move to a new place, not knowing the culture or the language or having many friends. But while the road is challenging, we can all support each other as we grow, both personally and professionally.
I created this website because, when I moved to Zurich in July 2011, it was tough to find information for many of the basic questions that I had. Of course there are tons of resources out there for how to pick a school for your kids or learn the cultural norms of the Swiss or figure out what the word for broccoli is in the local language. There were also networking and meetup events that provided fun entertainment for an evening, but no sustainable ideas of how to fill my time with something that left me satisfied. I think it is critical to happiness and integration in a new place to find activities that fill your time and fill your soul while you’re here. You want to wake up every morning excited and energized about what you’re doing.
So, I hope this website helps you in your search. If you have any ideas or would like to see anything new here, or even if you just want to say hello, email me at Lisa@gettingbusy.ch.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful country with me,
Lisa
——

People asked me why I made the website. I just made this to help other people in need (remember my 2012 New Year’s Goal). Simple as that. Want to inspire people with your good deeds? Leave a comment below and tell thousands of other readers what good you’re doing in the world!

A Winter Sports Celebration in Mürren (in the Swiss Alps)

Let me start by saying, I love being Press. Without fail, every single time I attend an event as a member of the press, I get wined and dined and given the VIP treatment. Yes, I write news articles for a magazine in Zurich, but somehow that doesn’t make me feel like Press. I’m a marketer in a writer’s clothes. Ah well, if you have to take the perks that come with the job, you have to 🙂 Sidenote: And actually, it makes me really wonder why I never went into writing full-time? Career change?!

So a couple of weekends ago I was in the gorgeous little Swiss town of Mürren.

Originally I was there to write about how dog friendly the town is (you can read the article here). I couldn’t bring my own dogbaby because I was worried it might be too much travel for her (it wouldn’t have been), so I had to ask other people about their dog experiences in Mürren. This lady stopped to chat with us for 15 minutes and afterwards sent me about 25 pictures of her adorable dog in a variety of snow-filled scenes. Too cute not to share!

The weekend I went just happened to be the 100 year celebration of winter sports in Mürren. There was a big ceremony and, unbeknownst to me, I was hanging out all day with a world-wide celebrity! Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards was there to unveil a new fountain commemorating the event. Sidenote: Admittedly I had to ask the bratwurst guy who Eddie was, but in fairness if I ran into any Olympic competitor I would have to ask who they were, too. The Eagle is famous for being the only British ski jumper to attempt, and therefore qualify, to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics, though he came in last at the actual events. Anyway, since we were the only native English speaking press there, we stuck together most of the day.

The Eagle, second from left, in red and black

And of course since the weekend was about winter sports I had to participate myself and go snowtubing! You can watch my video (but luckily you can’t really hear my yelling!!).

 

Welcome, 2013! I Already Know You Will Be Awesome

Guys, it’s 2013. Two thousand and thirteen!! Every year I am slightly boggled by the fact that I remember the year 2000 like it was last year and that so much and so little changes over the years simultaneously.

Amazing Things That Occurred in 2012:

I traveled the world. This year alone I visited: France, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Croatia and Greece, plus of course the US and Switzerland. Not too shabby! Next year is looking like it will include at least England and some beach town somewhere (maybe France? Maybe Italy?). I’m trying to talk Florian into a Spain visit so if anyone can help me talk it up, that’d be great.

Basically everyone I know I had a baby/got pregnant. Obviously this is a slight exaggeration, but only slight. My niece was born and my other sister is pregnant with my future nephew. My other “niece” was born (my best friend’s baby) and I had 5 girlfriends here in Zurich that had babies this year. Plus like 80% of my Facebook friends seem to be pregnant even if I haven’t spoken to those people in like 5 years.

I finally speak German!: It took long enough! But my German is finally at the point where I can function on my own without having to ask people to speak English or asking Florian to call somewhere on my behalf. This was soooo important to helping me feel like I could finally start to integrate myself into my new life here.

I started my consulting business: I know I don’t talk much about my work on this blog but 2012 was awesome n helping me jumpstart my own strategic marketing consulting business here in Switz. I laid some foundations that are making 2013’s business outlook really good and I actually had paying customers. Yay!

Florian took over his family company: Many people ask why I moved to Switzerland and why Flo didn’t just move to America. I always want to answer because that would have made life too easy but instead I respond with the truth; Florian runs a 4th-generation family business. This year Florian officially took over majority share from his dad and is now the CEO! Well, as much as anyone can be a CEO of a small 20-ish person business, I just think it sounds so cool to say that. Anyway, I’m so proud of how amazingly well he did! And how can you not love the adorable old-skool picture of him that’s still on the company website??

We bought a house: Just in the last minutes of 2012, Florian and I bought our very first home! We spent over a year looking and I was pretty much convinced we would never find a house that met all of our (my) requirements. Then we stumbled upon something in an area we weren’t even looking at and BAM!  just weeks later we were giving away all of our money.

It was my first full year being married: I had so much fun being married this year that I can’t wait to spend the next 50 years doing it! Flo and I have so much fun together and have so many similar interests and a stupid sense of humor. We can discuss economic policy one minute, football the next, and then watch Jackass the next minute. We also bonded over our love of the dog, the adorably sweet Mrs. Bella Pumpkin Pants. I honestly never thought it would be possible to find someone that is this much of a perfect match for me but I never gave up searching! I only had to travel across the world to find it but you know, I’ve never regretted it for a minute. To my best, best friend and husband, and the love of my life, here’s to 50 more amazing married years!

So 2013, it’s gonna be pretty tough to beat this awesome year, but I have a lot of faith that 2013 will bring its own special gifts 🙂

The 8th Anniversary of My 21st Birthday

Yep, I turned 29 this month. As in, one year until the big 3-0. People asked if I feel older, which of course the answer is not really, but I do feel richer. Why? Because I hit bank at the casino!!! I mean, how can you throw a goodbye to my 20’s birthday party that doesn’t include gambling and prostitution? (Sidenote: prostitution is legal in Switzerland and is a highly regulated, safe profession! And we didn’t actually use their services but they helped to set the atmosphere).

I gathered about 20 or so of my friends and wrangled them down to the new casino that just opened in Zürich last month. Unsure what to expect, the first part of the night was mostly farming folks in flannel and asian tourists. I admit, I got nervous about the crowd when we first arrived. Not exactly the posh/swanky atmosphere I had imagined. But then, gradually over time, the crowd magically transformed into 18 year olds and prostitutes and my group of 20- and 30-somethings dressed to the nines.

The girls started with Roulette but I was losing money fast so I gave up and joined Blackjack. AMAZING! I was winning!!! I even learned how to double down when I had 11 to start and it worked!! I was basically a professional by the time we left. And by the time Florian joined me at the table, warmed by some alcoholic drinks, we were both winning big! By the end we had about fr.400 in our pockets. Woot woot!!

And then on my actual birthday, it didn’t actually hurt that I won my Fantasy Football league!! Against all the men in my league who wake up at 3am to watch the games and know all about who’s on the DL list, what college the players were drafted from, etc. I barely even know the names of the players on my team and definitely don’t even know what real teams they play for. And yet… I schooled them all! I think they hung their heads in shame for a few days after that. Actually, I know they did because they told me on FB. And I won an additional fr. 400.

And later to celebrate Florian made me a fantastic birthday cake…. my absolute favorite – chocolate lava cake!! (too bad I had secretly eaten all of the rest of the ice cream we had in the freezer a few days before so we didn’t have any to eat with the cake. My bad!). He is so sweet 🙂 I love watching him try to bake and that was almost better than the cake! Almost, I said, don’t get crazy. Chocolate is still obviously numero uno on my list.

Rolling in the dough this birthday! Does that mean the rest of my year will make me rich?? I should start playing the lotto.

We’re Officially Homeowners!

Florian and I are homeowners! As in, we own our very own home!!!! Ahh!! I could say it a million times in a million different ways and I wouldn’t be any less excited. Ok, well, technically we own a piece of paper that says a house will be built and finished by approximately February 2014 but you get the idea. Saying we own a piece of paper is far less exciting than OWNING OUR OWN HOME!!! Here is the town right next to us that has our community center and here are the early renderings with our property circled:

My Plea For Help:

Do you love the idea of designing a house and picking out things like floors and kitchen cabinets and tile for the bathroom? Then, pretty please, help me!!! I’m out of my element here! Follow me on Pinterest and then send over ideas or I can add you as a pinner to my board For My New Home! Or follow me on Houzz, which is possibly even more amazing than Pinterest for home design. 

Background for people not familiar with the Swiss housing market: 

This is more exciting than you think. I know to my Americans this sounds like, Oh, who cares, everyone buys a house or condo. But no, in Switzerland, almost nobody buys a house at this age. Most people buy a house when they’re like, 40, and then live in that one house for the rest of their lives. There is no “starter home” concept here. And I hate talking money but honestly it’s f*!”@ing expensive to buy here and critical to understand about why nobody owns. I’m talking CHF600,000 ($600,000) for a small one bedroom outside of Zurich. And they don’t do the American “here, take out three mortgages for 110% of the cost of the home.” HECK no, the Swiss are far too cautious. You have to have 20% cash ready and available. That means if you’re buying a home over CHF1,000,000 (which, realistically, you are if you want anything nice or convenient or more than one bedroom), you have to have CHF200,000 just laying around in your savings. Because, you know, we all have that just laying around, right???? Sidenote: And if you’re now mad, thinking you’ve been missing out on receiving awesome presents from your über-rich friends Lisa and Florian, joke’s on you. We’re not loaded, we got some help affording it. C’mon, you thought we have hundreds of thousands laying around?

We searched and searched…
My local Swiss gals have heard me complain over the months about how I didn’t want to buy, I didn’t know where I wanted to live, I didn’t want to commit yet, it was too expensive, etc. Florian always had his eyes and ears open, just in case. We probably visited a dozen homes but something was always wrong. Too close to a church (those bells ring EVERY hour, sometimes for like 15 minutes straight!!), too much traffic, no convenient public transportation, house layout wasn’t nice. But this house is the first time we both agreed that we love everything about it! Weird to say, there was nothing we had to “settle” on with this baby 🙂  I mean, look at the views!

We were lucky – Flo is friendly with our banker and the banker told us about this place that hadn’t even finished its paperwork and wasn’t yet even available to the public for sale. We were excited and the next day went to go look at the land and we loved the location! We saw a guy there playing with his two little kids and had like a 10 minute convo with him about the place (cultural note: Swiss people don’t normally “chat”  or have “small talk” with strangers, so this was a good sign from the start!). Turns out, many of the neighbors are foreign and speak English and they’re a really friendly and open community (again, sorta shocking for Switz!!). The schools are small but good, the neighborhood is  really open farmland with a beautiful view of the mountains closeby and lots of trails for walking/biking.We have a bus stop right outside of our house so we can also still get to Zurich easily and we are 10 minutes from another city in Switzerland called Zug. But get this – we are under 5 minutes from Florian’s parents!! Sidenote: Yes, this is a good thing, we love his parents. They’re not crazy in-laws at all, they’re wonderful! They’re so adorable, how could anyone not love them??

Babies, Babies, Everywhere! (I’m Going To Be An Aunt x3)

I didn’t think it was possible for an adult to play with this many adorable babies unless you were, like, a nursery school teacher or a creeper or something. But I am apparently somewhat of a bab(y) magnet. No joke, I think if you’re having trouble conceiving just come hang out with me for a little while and you’ll get pregnant. And now, one more super important baby is coming into my life. My sister Rachel and her husband John just up and got pregnant!! Woot woot!! I’ll be an aunt for the third time!!! As you can see, Rachel has really embraced the baby spirit early on.

We won’t know for a couple more weeks if it’s a boy or a girl (maybe I’ll have my frst nephew??) but I have to say, for its own sake, I hope it’s a girl. Why? Because Rachel and John have begun referring to the baby with one of two nicknames: Queen Latifah (for a girl) and Weird Al Yankovic (for a boy). Which would you want your kid coming out resembling?

 OR

I already started making a nickname from her nickname because that’s how I roll, so I mostly call it Queenie or Latifs. And just to ensure we convince it to be a girl, here we are taking Queenie for her first Louis Vuitton bag.

But going back to like, all the babies I know… even two years ago, I liked babies just fine and all and I knew one or two peripherally, but that was about it. Being married and having a baby were pretty far off from my lifestyle back then. Since I got married, moved here, and became friends with grown ups (aka people my own age who don’t live in San Diego), I realized that this is actually the time frame when people have those kiddos. I think it was THE thing to do in 2012 because I had at least 6 friends here in Zurich who had babies on top of my little nieces that were born in NY. Plus Jessica Simpson. And now Kate Middleton (with possible twins!).

Ok, I know all of you couldn’t concentrate on that last paragraph because you were too busy trying to YouTube Weird Al songs. Fine, here, I’ll save you the hassle and post my fave songs. 

I Miss Real Food (What It’s Like To Be On An Elimination Diet)

Here’s How I Currently Feel: HUNGRY!
Here’s The Background Story: Right before I moved to Switzy, I started clenching my right jaw and I attributed that with sooo many other ailments that came right alongside it (sinus issues, back pain, neck pain, headaches, etc). I’ve done a million different things to try to fix it (I wear a mouthpiece at night, I went to physiotherapy, I got a neck-support pillow, I tried acupuncture and exercise, etc). Basically, every doctor I went to told me that it was from stress and to stop being stressed out. Helpful. Anyway, I waited around for about a year before I decided I am officially stress free and still have all my symptoms. Then I started digging.
What Did I Find? Turns out, I can’t breathe. As I started googling the more unusual causes of jaw clenching, I saw that sleep apnea can cause this issue. My doctor immediately dismissed the idea and said I’m not old, fat, or a man, so I couldn’t possibly have it and refused to send me to a sleep clinic. However, by investigating it and checking my breathing, I realized that I can barely breathe out of my right nostril most of the day. Sidenote: I realized this was why I was not making a lot of progress with my triathlon times – I wasn’t getting enough oxygen into my system!
So Then: I went to an ENT (Ears, Nose, Throat specialist) and he was immediately like Get a CT scan. I made the appointment but kept thinking, Um, excuse me, why do I need to subject myself to all this radiation unnecessarily (that has been shown to cause cancer)? What exactly did he plan to find on the test? So I went back to see him and ask more questions. Turns out, he wasn’t even going to bother diagnosing me with the CT scan, he was using it as prep for surgery. SURGERY? I haven’t even been tested or diagnosed really. And surgery for a “deviated septum,” which like 99% of people have and most don’t need surgery for?? I guess he took a look at my rather-large nose and figured I’d upgrade to the cosmetic fix as well. And I thought American doctors were only in it for the money… 
 
So Now:  Instead of jumping into surgery, here I am, trying out an elimination diet to see if the nasal blockage is caused by any food allergies. On this diet, you basically can’t eat anything with anything anyone may have once been allergic to. Gluten, dairy, those are the norms. But what about tomatoes? Nope, that’s a nightshade vegetable. Beef? No way. Maple syrup?? nu-uh. No sweeteners. Not even my grapefruits!! But I think now is the best time to try my diet because:
  1. I also seem to have some weird allergy that makes my lips all swollen and dry, which definitely needs to be resolved ASAP unless I want to continue looking like a walking herpe.
  2. The holidays are always a gorge time, so this may be the first year I won’t gain those “Holiday 10” pounds (since basically all I can eat are rice cakes, quinoa, and fruits and veggies).
  3. The sooner I can breathe, the better!
Have any of you ever tried an elimination diet? What was the hardest part to give up? For me, it’s dairy! I miss my cereal in the morning with milk. I miss eggs. Oh, and chocolate. And coffee. Ok, now I’m just listing everything I miss. Nutella. I love you, delicious Nutella.