D is for Disconnect

Source: Pinterest
Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a "woe is me" post. Not at all. But simply an honest look at what some expats experience when they choose to live this far away from their families and friends.

Not everything about living in Switzerland is adventure, chocolate and, cheese. Not everything is hiking, alps and scenic views from trains. No. Sometimes it's crippling homesickness, isolation and feeling disconnected from everyone who knows you.

Within the first month of us living here we had the following conversation with family and friends back home on more than one occasion.

Person back Home: Did you hear that *insert name here* *insert life changing news here that is several weeks old.*
Us: No
Person back home: Oh we thought you would have heard.
Us: From whom would we have heard this?
Person back home: Through the grapevine.
Us: Sorry our grapevine was lost in the move.

Yes these conversations actually happened. They actually still happen. Not as frequently but they still occur. Whilst we appreciate the fact that our families like to think of us as still on top of all the family news, gossips and rumours we're simply not. I guess in a world of email, facebook, skype and smart phones people assume we're just as connected as we always were. Like we're still plugged int. Unfortunately we're not. We're generally the people last to know now. We've gradually grown to be okay with this.

The time change has a lot to do with this. We are 5 1/2 hours ahead of my parents. 7 hours ahead of Johnathans family and most of our friends. 8 hours ahead of my Oma Regina and my brother and a whopping 10 hours ahead of my Aunt and Uncle on Canada's west coast. These are not trifling time differences and lead to a delay in the relaying of news.

Source: Pinterest
Another contributing factor might shock you. Facebook and Skype. Items that are specifically designed to keep you connected to people. Unfortunately they operate as rubbing salt in the wounds. They are a reminder of what you're not there for and what you're missing. Or in some cases (facebook especially) scoop the news before you can hear it from your family. Never in a million years would I have thought before our move that facebook would tell me something about my family before I was told. Never. I had heard of it happening but it would never happen to me. My family was to good at relaying information than that. Oh how wrong I was.

Due to the time difference and a few other factors I didn't find out from my Dad that my Oma had passed until the next afternoon. It was no one fault. The news was coming from Manitoba to Newfoundland to Switzerland. That's a lot of time zones. However enter logging onto Facebook, there was a vague Facebook post about it from a family member that I saw when I logged on Friday morning. Yes, FACEBOOK told me my Oma was gone before my father could tell me. Cue freak out and a phone call to my husband at work. His instructions, until someone from my family tells me personally calls me and tells I needed to go about my day and get the hell off facebook. Now I'm not angry this happened. I'm not mad at the person who posted it. They had no way of knowing there was a granddaughter that didn't know yet. It just happens and it's one of the perils of living in the age of everyone posting everything on facebook.

Skype on the other hand has this amazing ability to invite you into your families home but at the same time remind you, that its only an illusion. You can't reach through that monitor and hug your niece. You can't cuddle your cat. You can't just grab a snack from the fridge. You can't tickle your goddaughter. You just sit on someones counter, coffee table or foot stool and watch everything unfold.

Our niece, her Uncle Francis and, us on Christmas Day 2011
We make do though. We have become the super presidents of the world in Skype peek-a-boo. We've had tea with friends. I've gotten up extra early on a Sunday just so I can have a skype date with two dear friends so we could gossip. We recently skyped with my husbands family and when he saw our niece eating goldfish crackers he went to our cupboard and got his own crackers and ate them along with her. We do what we can to feel some ounce of involvement with out friends and families. Care packages are sent back and forth with reckless abandonment and I've been known to write and mail upwards of 15 postcards and letters in a week.

Yes, we are aware we could have avoided all of this by not moving here. But as I've stated many time. The regret would have been worse than anything else. We accept we're going to be the last know for as long as we're far away. It's one of those prices you pay for having an adventure.


  1. Chris and I have been seriously talking about moving to Alberta, his parents and grandparents are both moving to the Philippines full time and both are selling their home/condo and are offering us a deal we really can't refuse for either place we would own instead of rent. But it's thoughts like this that scare the pants off me. I want to go and I know it's a great opportunity that we would kick ourselves to pass up but the thought of not being in the same city let alone province of my parents, I don't even know how to begin to deal with that. Obviously still not nearly the same as being an entire ocean away, we can drive the distance in less than a full day and God help anyone who would separate me from my fur babies. Basically what I'm trying to say is I envy your bravery and courage, T you rock!


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