Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pics & Observations

Today we began researching the different areas of Zurich so that we can hopefully decide on an area to live. To that end, we spent the afternoon exploring in the city of Winterthur:

A few pictures:


Some more random observations:
1. It appears to be more socially acceptable to wear (tight) sweatpants in public here. By grown men....
2. All the good US shows are dubbed in German here (i.e. Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, etc.). All the bad US shows are still in English with German subtitles (Teen Mom, Room Raiders, mostly MTV shows....)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We're heeeeere!!

We made it! We landed just before 8am (Zurich time) on Tuesday morning. According to the pilot, it was 24 degrees Fahrenheit. Not great but it'll do. Today it warmed up to 40!

Things we learned traveling overseas:
1. When connecting through NYC, pay close attention to the airport you are arriving in and the airport you are departing from. It's entirely possible that is not the same airport. Relocating from LGA to JFK with 11 pieces of luggage = HUGE PAIN.
2. When checking more than two pieces of luggage, call the airline to discuss the fees. The fee information on the website may not be complete. For American Airlines, it is most definitely NOT complete.
3. Airport wireless is slow. Download movies, music, etc BEFORE arriving in the airport.

Upon arrival, our wonderful relocation agent picked us up and brought us to our temporary apartment. She gave us a tour (which was very short since its a one bedroom apt) and then headed off into the sun. Andre and I promptly collapsed into bed for a 3 hour nap. :)

We got our butts out of bed and headed out into the city. We still have a LOT of work to do but we are reeeeeally glad we took some German lessons in Charlotte. While every person we've encountered so far speaks English, we've noticed that most of the signs and directions are in German. We managed to get ourselves to the main train station, exchange some money, and buy 2 brats and a small coffee for a snack. Total snack cost = 17,20 CHF = 18.26 USD. We bought some groceries and then we came home and sat on the couch staring blankly at the t.v. watching How I Met Your Mother dubbed over in German in a vain attempt to keep ourselves awake. We lasted until 8pm.

I read for a bit, fell asleep and then woke up wide eyed and bushy tailed at 2am. I sent a few e-mails, played on Facebook and cruised the web for a while. I gave up, turned off the light and I estimate that I fell back asleep around 4:30/5ish. I woke up again at 10:30. :). Andre did a bit better then me waking up for a bit over an hour around 5 and then falling into a restless sleep until about 10. We both have high hopes for an uninterrupted nights sleep tonight. Fingers crossed.

Today, we got up and went exploring around the city. Link to pictures below. Since today is Andre's birthday, we went out for a nice diner and then bought him some delicious Swiss chocolate for dessert. Lucky for me, he shares his chocolate!

Snow in the forecast for tomorrow & Friday!

12 28 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

17 hours until flight time....

Holy crap!!!!

Other updates:

1. Several of you have heard about the super awesome (and extraordinarily loud) car we are driving this week. First, I must say a HUGE thank you to Roland for letting us borrow his car. Second, I must point out that Roland is a single man. Evidence below:

2. The guys from Graebel came by the house and packed up all of our stuff into one crate in under two hours on Wed. They were awesome!

3. Best news I got all week: the rental company has a cleaning service and will arrange for them to clean our townhouse! Hooray!

4. Been checking the weather in Zurich all week. Looks cold. Snow in the forecast for Friday. Yay???

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pet Update!

After much discussion, hand wringing and crying, we finally decided that it would be best to leave our pets in the states. We'll be living in a smaller place and we plan to travel a lot so we don't think we'll be around to really take care of them (on top of having to spend our life savings to bring them over).

Armand has gone to live with Andre's friend Wendy. We drove him to Raleigh on Tuesday afternoon. He was on his best behavior when he met Wendy and I can tell already that Wendy is going to spoil him rotten. Armand's quality of life just quadrupled.

Kit Kat has gone to live with my very wonderful friend Kim in Knoxville. We drove Kit Kat to Newport, TN yesterday for the handoff. Apparently Kim's husband has been looking for a reason to steal Kit Kat ever since they visited us in Charlotte last summer. I know Kit Kat is better off. In fact, if I pass away and come back as a cat, I definitely want to be one of Kim & Matt's pets!

Sophie, the world's cutest & best behaved dog, is going to live with Andre's parents. Its no secret that Andre's mom has been trying to steal her back ever since we stole her originally!

Friday, December 16, 2011


L to R: Yeong Chang, Eoin Fallon, Me, Chun Chu,
Tae-Kyu Park & Jeannette Bucher

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Good News! & Advice

  • If you are ever interested in cancelling a service or subscription within the US and you don't want to listen to the new offers, incentives to stay, blah blah blah - tell them you are moving out of the country! It's fabulous. Everyone is super nice and cancels stuff right away.

Goods News:

  • We sold Andre's car!
  • We have a buyer for my car and should be able to sell next week when I'm back in town!
  • Our flight tickets to Zurich have been booked! Ready or not Switzerland, here we come!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Temporary Apartment

Check out our digs for the first 30 days:

Random Thoughts

I seem to be finding a lot funny today but that may be because I woke up at 4am....

#1 - I had to apply for an EIN (employer identification number) today b/c apparently I'm not allowed to use my social security number for identification purposes when moving internationally. While I appreciate the attempts at protecting my privacy, I'm more annoyed that I now have yet another number to keep track of......

#2 - I registered with PwC for tax assistance today. Here's my welcome note: "Welcome to We know that many people find taxes stressful, and that this process is more complicated when living in a new country. Your employer (or your spouse’s employer) has arranged to have PwC help you with the preparation of your tax returns." Here's the question: should I be nice or totally put these people through their paces when they prepare our return???

#3 - We picked up our visas last week! Hooray! Next flights! I have to use a company so who knows how long that will take.....

#4 - Realized this weekend that we're planning to move in two weeks - almost fainted cold when "two weeks" processed through my head - YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Making Moves in NYC!

Aside from all the fun stuff we've been doing in NYC, Andre and I are getting all kinds of things checked off our list.

#1 - Global Entry Program ( - Instead of having to drive to Atlanta, we were able to take the subway over to the JFK airport and do our interviews and fingerprints there. Now we just wait on the FBI to run our fingerprints through their system and verify we are not wanted or crazy criminals. Fingers crossed! Global Entry is a program that will allow us to basically skip the customs line whenever we come back to the US. It's a $100 for a five year program. Totally worth it in my opinion....

#2 - VISAs - Also supposed to obtain those through Atlanta, however, my super resourceful husband looked up Swiss Consulates and noted there is a consulate approximately one block from our hotel. He walked right on over, delivered our paperwork and now we can pick up our VISAs on Thursday!

Other NYC activities worth noting:

Friday night
- best gluten free food experience ever - Had dinner at an Italian restaurant ( where almost the entire menu was gluten free! They even had gluten free breadsticks!! After that, we headed to Tu-Lu ( which is an entirely gluten free bakery. I basically bought one of everything they had to offer. :) For those who might be worrying, have no fear, we visited a full of gluten bakery for Andre where he purchased plenty of his own goodies.

Saturday night - Met up with some friends and had dinner at a Thai restaurant which was followed up with Karaoke at MK Karaoke ( We had our own private room complete with two microphones, two flat screen t.v.s and two light up tambourines (and possibly an adult beverage or two...). A good time was had by all!

Sunday - Involved several naps and walking around NYC. Details available upon request.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

nerk nerk

more to come later on my immersion cultural training in NYC but in the meantime, i thought someone out there might find this hilarious:

Andre: American Airlines is going under. Hope you don't have a flight with them. ;)

Me: have a flight with them on Friday......

Unexpected Cultural Training!

I haven't even started traveling and I'm already getting all kinds of culturally educated.

With me in NYC this week, we have the following cast of characters:
Chun - Born in Taiwan, raised in New Zealand, been working in Tokyo for the last five years
Eoin (pronounced Owen) - Ireland born & raised
Leonie - Amsterdam born & raised

Apparently, Americans eat LARGE portions of food. Both days at lunch, they've remarked about how much food they were served. Yesterday, we went to an Irish bar. I went with a hamburger and a side of fruit (instead of fries - apparently I'm now sensitive to cross contamination - we can discuss that another day). I can't imagine what they would have said if the giant burger had arrived with fries. As it was, they all ordered salads!

Today, we had a short geography lesson where I drew a map of the US and indicated the locations of NYC and Charlotte. (I won't be winning any prizes for my US map, that's for sure).

I learned that everyone in Amsterdam rides bikes everywhere. Leonie found out that is not the case in NYC when she rode her bike to work (42nd & Madison) from the Chelsea area yesterday (without a helmet, I might add). Today, she attempted the subway somewhat successfully. She rode the subway for two blocks and then walked eight. :) Third time is the charm!

Other notes - two days without a calculator - fabulous!!!

On tap for tomorrow - we meet someone who has been described as "loving the code!" - I'm scared.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


And we've entered the 21st century!

Skype Usernames are available upon request! :)

Just spent 30 minutes skyping with my mom who is approximately 2 feet away.... gotta practice somehow!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Woo Hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Check out the e-mail I received today:

Hi Melanie

Good news! We received the approval for your working visa form the federal office of migration of Switzerland today. The final approval from the migration office of Zurich is still outstanding but there will be no doubt that we received this answer within some days. The start date 1st January 2012 is therewith confirmed. I get back to you, as soon the visa is ready to pick up at the Swiss Consulate in Charlotte.

Your actual first working-day will be Tuesday 3 January, starting with the two introduction days. More information's will follow in December.

Who's excited?!

WE ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!