Bonjour de la Suisse

Hello from Switzerland! ~~ The adventures of a California girl who got married to a great guy, G, and traded in her old life for the chance to live in a foreign land and live the expat life for a couple years. We live in Geneva, Switzerland with our globe-trotting cat, Scout.

Ma photo
Nom :
Lieu : California, United States

"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." ~ G.K. Chesterton

mercredi, juillet 23, 2008

5,826 miles (or 9,374 km as they say across the pond)

How do you measure distance?
A plane ride?
A Skype call?

Just three short years before I had arrived in a foreign land so different from anything I knew, where I didn't speak the language, didn't know the customs, and more importantly didn't know a soul besides G.  Now I was leaving a place that I truly feel is my home; full of good friends, familiar haunts, exciting adventures, and so many wonderful memories.

Even though we are moving 5,826 miles back to our "other" home in California, I still will always consider Geneva my home.  There will always be things that I will miss about living in Europe, but there are a lot of things I'm looking forward to also.  I can't wait to once again be living close to friends and family.  I always said if I could live in the perfect place it would be Geneva but with all our friends and family there too.

It was a long journey back.  The Swiss Air flight from Geneva to JFK was a little rough for me.  Because Maddie was so young (only 8 weeks old) we decided to reserve a seat with a bassinet.  Unfortunately, the bassinet seat is on the bulkhead, so Gary ended up sitting in a totally different section of the plane with Scout, who flew under the seat in front of him.  I was in the very center of the plane squished between two people who didn't look happy to be flying next to me and a newborn.  Of course Maddie wanted no part of the bassinet and I ended up holding her about 7 hours of the 8 hour flight!  She did sleep in it briefly so I could eat a bit and use the lavatory.

The US customs agent was great.  He stamped all our passports (they don't do that anymore when you enter the US). On Maddie's passport he wrote "GL". I asked him if those were his initials and he said, "No, that is for good luck!" What a nice guy! The only passport he didn't check was Scout's. Yup, she has a Swiss passport which I wanted to show him, but he didn't seem too concerned about verifying who she was.

When we got to JFK I was trying to find a discrete place to feed Maddie before our next flight to Florida. We ended up in a corner table in the food court. I had had no problems at all feeding Maddie in public in Europe. It seemed to me like everyone did it and no one even batted an eye about it. (Well, except the little old man in the Paquis who glanced my way and said, "Bon appétit, bébé!") But here we were, just arrived on US soil, and the couple a few tables away gave us the biggest stares you have ever seen. They actually turned all the way around in their seats to stare at us. They looked offended, but what was I supposed to do? I wasn't flaunting it. I was trying to be as discrete as possible and Maddie was hungry. In retrospect I supposed they were offended because I didn't have a nursing cover (I did have on a nursing top so I didn't have my top hiked up). But at that time I didn't even know nursing covers existed! They don't sell them in Switzerland and I had never seen anyone use anything to cover up their babies to nurse them. Oh well, I stayed strong and ignored them.

The flight to Florida was a little easier and a lot shorter! Maddie was already turning out to be a good little flyer. This flight we all sat together which was nice for me. I was so happy to see Susie at the airport. It was a great start to our US homecoming. We must have been quite a sight! Two tired parents, a pile of luggage, a newborn, and Scout. I think the days of traveling light are over for a while! We arrived on July 2nd. I was happy that Maddie would get to spend her first 4th of July in the US.

Our time in Florida was brief, but busy. Maddie got to meet her Auntie Susie, Uncle Leo (who actually held her in spite of him being a little nervous he would drop her), and her great grandparents - Granddad and Ma. Ma told us that from now on she wants to be called "Gi-Gi", short for "Great Grandma", so that is what we will call her. Maddie is their first great grandchild and we were all thrilled they got to meet her when she was only eight weeks old.

Scout wasn't so sure about her temporary home at Ma and Granddad's condo. She would hide out either in the paint closet (no one could figure out how she was sneaking in there) or in the "library" behind the book shelf. The joke was she liked to read back there. She really is a good traveler though. What a little trooper!

We spent most of our time in Florida visiting with family and getting over our jet lag.  We spent some time at the beach, but I was worried about Maddie getting too much sun.  Down by the beach we took pictures at my favorite tree, it's the same tree I took pictures at when I was a kid. It was a really nice visit and a nice break on our long journey home.

All too soon it was time to get on another plane for our final leg to California.  We had another uneventful flight but by the time we arrived I was spent!  Gayle picked us up from the airport and took us to her house for some food and some much needed rest.  We ended up staying with her for a few days while we got our condo ready to move back into.  In addition to our luggage, we had a few boxes that were shipped from Geneva by air.  We packed them full of the absolute necessities for Maddie and for the house.  Our aero-bed, baby clothes, a few kitchen supplies, and some other stuff was in that shipment.  We would have to wait another eight weeks for the rest of our stuff to come over by sea and clear customs before being delivered to our place.

I think Scout acclimated better than we did!  She seemed to remember the condo and was happy to have her feet back on the ground.  We on the other hand, didn't have such a smooth transition.  Getting used to caring for a newborn on top of an international move was tough.  Sleeping on the aero-bed for eight weeks was tough. But slowly but surely we got back to the swing of life in California.  

The biggest and most surprising adjustment for us was the reverse culture shock we experienced.  We were anxious to get all our errands run on Saturdays because we kept thinking the stores would be closed on Sunday.  We were getting used to paying with a credit card again and not carrying around so much cash. I had to get used to the "car culture" in the US and the fact that I couldn't walk to the market or restaurants like I used to.  I felt very isolated from everything living so far away from a downtown.  I missed so much about living in Geneva that just didn't exist here.  Our friends, the lake, the festivals, Glocal events, outdoor cafes, public transportation, hearing the language, cobblestone streets, ancient buildings, the changing of the seasons, the view of Mont-Blanc, a proper fondue, a good kir, and so much more.

But our friends and family made up for all of that.  They welcomed us back with open arms and were really happy we had made the move back home.  Everyone was eager to meet Maddie and we had lots of visitors in those early days.  Maddie had two baby showers thrown in her honor.  One at Auntie Brand's house and one at Auntie Sharron's. They were more like "meet and greet" showers since Maddie was there too.  It was so touching to have so many people there to support us. 

By September Maddie started Gymboree, took her first dip in a pool, and we joined a playgroup.  Once our stuff arrived and we were able to put together a proper nursery for Maddie, things started to feel a lot more like home.  Maddie had been the biggest blessing and the best thing we could have come home with from our time in Geneva.

One day we may be lucky enough to have the opportunity to move back to Europe.  But for now we are starting another exciting chapter in our lives.  I'm looking forward to what lies ahead for Gary, Maddie and I. 

We were so fortunate to have had the amazing experience of living in Geneva.  I will always cherish our three years we had there and the wonderful friends we made.  I'm also thankful I created this blog that chronicled so many of our adventures throughout Europe and beyond.  

With that I am signing off this blog for the last time.  Thank you for reading and following along for the past three years.  I hope to start a new blog that will follow our little family and all our future adventures, wherever that may take us.  Until then, I a bid a fond farewell to "Bonjour de la Suisse".

Au revoir et milles bisous

"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; 
it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." ~ G.K. Chesterton


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