Friday, January 20, 2012


That's my answer to the question: How are you doing in Zurich?

These people don't eat anything! Well, they do eat, its just that they eat small portions and probably 90% of every meal is cheese. Not ideal for the lactose intolerant.....

Seriously, I'm surviving thanks to two things:
1. Lactaid - Best. Invention. Ever. If anyone is sitting around thinking "I really want to send Melanie something awesome", you have your answer!
2. Snickers - its the only candy bar I recognize. Thankfully, I know the ingredients b/c here the wrapper is in German. Hungry? Why wait? Amen, Snickers, Amen.

I head to NYC tomorrow for a week of training. I'm most excited about the large American size portions of food. Meeeeeeeat!!!! (Andre is very jealous)

Bummer for Andre as he's stuck moving us on Friday when we take over the new apartment. I hate that I won't be here to help him. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012


Our application was accepted! Now we have to sign a contract and fork over 2-3 months rent as a deposit. Apparently the Swiss aren't very trustworthy when it comes to rentals. Yeesh. Below are some pictures put up by the rental agency. We'll add more photos once we take over on the 27th. Yay us!


Basically two bedrooms and two living rooms. We're thinking of converting the living room on the left into a guest "suite" to entice people to come visit! :)

Building Front

Built in 1895. Last renovated in 2004.

We're the level right above the Jewelry Store.


Notice the low ceilings. It's gonna be cozy!

Living Room Area

Anyone have decorating ideas for low ceilings?

Outside Area!

Might be a few months before we use that. Today's high 32F.

It also comes with its own washer/dryer! It's tiny but it's ours! We actually looked at one apartment that offered a communal washer that we would be allowed to use once every 14 days and no dryer. These people are crazy! :)

We're going to be in an area called Uster ( It's got its own lake and is about a 15/20 minute train ride from my office. We'll be within walking distance of the train station and the Australian bar! Sweet.

It's hard to learn german....

when these so-called "smart" websites keep detecting your IP address and automatically re-directing you to the website for the country you are currently located in....makes it difficult to buy German lessons when I CAN NOT READ THE WEB PAGE!!!!!!!

What's even better though is once I finally navigated to the purchase lessons page, they don't even offer German as an option. Sigh

Seriously though. It's both comical and extraordinarily frustrating. And something I did not even think about before arriving. Google is the worst. The first time I logged into the blog (after guessing which button meant "sign in"), everything was in German. Took me at least five minutes of scrutinizing every word on the page to finally correctly guess where I should click to change the language.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Apartment Hunting & Other Musings

Friday was a big day here in Zurich! We got ourselves registered with the canton of Zurich (pretty sure the only reason for this is so we can be taxed), we got ourselves a bank account AND we checked out our first apartment.

For those who haven't done extensive research on the Zurich rental market, let me sum it up in a few short words = landlord's market = everything is tiny and suuuuper expensive. Anywho, we went to check out this place that we found online. It was reasonably priced (in Zurich terms=1.5 times our mortgage) for the size (80m2 = 861 sq ft). Our relocation agent had already warned us that the market is really competitive and each apartment will likely receive close to 50 applications so we weren't surprised to see a line of people waiting on the sidewalk for the stated open house time. We decided to take a quick walk around the neighborhood while we waited on the door to open. Turns out the apartment is located next door to a strip club and across the street from another strip club! Andre's response: What's wrong with that?? Since we were already there, we went ahead and went inside to look around. The apartment was quite nice and was packed with other people looking and filling out applications. We decided to pass. :)

Saturday, it rained....again. Our big outing was to the supermarket. We had to stock up because all of the stores are closed here on Sunday. As in totally closed. Not open. At all. It's like being back in east TN in the 80's.

On Sunday, it rained....again. We said to hell with it, put on rain proof jackets and headed over to Uetliberg to see the sights. The conventional wisdom is that one should take the train to Triemli and then hike up to the top of the mountain and take the train back down. We, being rather out of shape, elected to take the train to the top of the mountain and then hike down to Triemli. We took some lovely pictures of the view shrouded in rainy fog. I'll throw those up online tomorrow. I'm sure we'll take the exact same pictures sometime this summer when it's actually sunny outside!

Sunday was pretty action packed. After Uetliberg, we took the train to various parts of Zurich to get an idea of where we might like to live if we can't find an apartment in the city. We found two neighborhoods that we really liked. After all that, we came back to our apartment and our neighbors invited us over for tea at 7pm. We're in temporary housing so everyone here is in transition. Our neighbors came in about a week after us so we've actually been helpful to them! One week can make a huge difference in a brand new place. After tea, we did some skyping with the parental units (and Sophie too) and then I tried to go to bed.

I'm having a hard time sleeping here because of all of the caffeine I'm consuming! We had tea with the neighbors on Sunday night. I couldn't refuse the tea b/c I had already skirted around the bread they were serving (it's hard to be polite when you have gluten issues - good thing I have a husband who doesn't mind eating two servings!). At work, I've found that after lunch, it's expected that on the way back to work, everyone stops in the break rooms for a coffee break. I've been drinking tea but still...more caffeine. In addition to the regular post-lunch coffee break, on Monday, the Irish expats at PwC held a welcome back from holiday happy hour beginning at 4:30pm complete with Irish coffee and snacks. More caffeine! I "watered" down my Irish coffee with an extra helping of whipped cream but still that sucker was strong. Good thing I didn't have to drive anywhere!

Sidenote: Apparently the only people that work in Switzerland the first week of January are suckers like me that don't know any better. Everyone else takes off before Christmas and doesn't return until the second week of January (hence the welcome back party yesterday). Note taken.

Continuing on then, we went to check out our second apartment last night. We liked it a lot. Tomorrow, we go look at more apartments! Hopefully after tomorrow we'll have seen enough to be able to make a decision. Fingers crossed!'s supposed to be sunny tomorrow! I think this will be the first time we've seen the sun since leaving the states two weeks ago....

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Days at Work

I started work this week! I guess it had to happen eventually. Boy have I enjoyed the last 6 weeks of "working" and vacationing. :)

Day 1
Prior to Tuesday, I thought my biggest nightmare was walking into a room full of strangers already engaged in various conversations and having to insert myself into the group. Turns out, my biggest nightmare is walking into a room full of strangers already engaged in various conversations in German and having to insert myself into the group. Just a smidge intimidating....

Of course, it didn't help that when I checked in, they didn't have a nametag for me so I was already concerned about not being in the right place. It all worked out in the end. C'est la vie

Anyhow, after sucking it up and finding some poor new hire to torture with my horrid small talk skills, we started with our day of classes. Day 1 was mostly spent on appropriately brain washing the new recruits. I was quite happy to find out that English is the corporate language so all of my training was conducted in English.

Sidenote: The people here speak phenomenal English. I only hope to one day be able to speak German so well. They do have problems with some of our phrases such as "brain washing" which they'll make rather literal and instead say something like "Once we're done washing your brain here, you'll go on to...". They also commonly add an "s" to words that are already plural so I'm getting a lot of informations and many people have childrens.

The course I found to be of the most interest was the business etiquette course during which we discussed appropriate business attire. As it was presented to us, in Switzerland, Business Professional means "wear suit", Business Casual means "wear coat/jacket" and something called Smart Casual means "98% of Melanie's wardrobe". Looks like I have a shopping trip in my future! Not sure if I'm happy or sad about that. :)

Day 2 - Picture Day (Weather on walk to work - Rainy & Windy)
ahhhh Day 2 - the arrival of my computer
I determined very quickly that I had a couple of problems:
#1 - The keyboard is German. My Z and my Y are switched and ALL of my symbols have been relocated. I don't mind so much the Z having relocated itself but I had no idea how much I used the Y until yesterday. Also the exclamation and question marks! Needless to say, I have already sent more than a few misspelled chat messages and emails.
#2 - When I was put into the system, both my middle & last names were included as my last name so my assigned e-mail address is: Approximately 5 minutes after arriving to work this morning, I was on the phone with PwC Help getting that changed.

Day 3
As mentioned above, priority #1 - change e-mail!
I then met with my global mobility consultant who was a HUGE help! We went through an arrival checklist to make sure I had taken care of or was planning to take care of all the necessary administrative things.
I also got a chance to meet with my boss who had plenty(!) of ideas on work for me to do and then I had a delicious lunch with my buddy and my new admin assistant.
I do continue to be frustrated at not being able to speak German. Late this afternoon, we had quite the storm. Upon one particularly loud burst of thunder, everyone stood up to check it out and began excitedly discussing German....sigh. Time for me to get serious about my audio lessons (which were borrowed/stolen from Roland - thanks Roland!)!
All in All - Two thumbs up for Day 3!

Tomorrow I am going to work the first half of the day and then our relocation agent is going to take us to get properly registered, get a bank account, take us on an awareness tour and begin to show us apartments!

The weather here has been surprisingly mild. Or at least mild when compared to our expectations. We've been mostly hanging out in the 2°C to 8°C range. We've had more than our desired amount of rain and virtually no snow. Also, plenty of wind. We're currently under an alert for "Disruption due to wind - Strong gale (lowlands), gusts of 90km/h". I'll leave the conversions to you!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Andre and I spent most of Dec 31 enjoying the English language television we finally figured out and drinking wine. After much discussion, we finally bit the bullet and headed out with the masses to see the fireworks over the lake. We were not disappointed! even if I lost feeling in my right foot while we waited... :)

Check out a few pictures:
New Year's Eve