What we've learned so far: 2 years edition

This morning I was in the Zurich airport buying a ticket for the train. I was stupid yesterday and bought just from Bern to the Zurich main station and back when I should have  bought from Bern to the airport and back. So I fed my 3.30 chf into the machine while trying not to look like I had just ugly cried with my best friend at the departures gate and I was struck by the familiarity of the moment.

Two years ago I was in the same spot. Waiting. I was waiting for my dad and John to buy our train tickets to Bern. We had been traveling for over 24 hours. I was tired and terrified. I was sitting on my zuca bag full of roller derby gear next to all our worldly possessions carefully packed into 4 suitcases. 2 big. 2 small. We have built a life for ourselves with contents of those suitcases as our foundation.

Here's what we've learned so far;

1. Because of the choice we made we will miss stuff. We've accepted this. We've missed every birthday our niece and godson have ever had. They will both be 3 this year. We both missed our grandmothers funerals. We miss celebrations, reunions, weddings and announcements. We found out we were going to be an aunt and uncle again (Hi Beryth!!!!) via email. While the email was awesome and wonderful we were sad we weren't there to find out in person like the rest of John's family. We miss birthday parties, derby bouts, after parties and barbecues with friends. We miss everything. And it sucks. But while we missing stuff and events we're making our own events and that's awesome, we just sometimes wish those we love could be here to enjoy it with us.

2. You learn to live with homesickness. It's not fun but you make the best of it.

3. It's okay to want to give up sometimes. John and I have both just thrown up our hands and said, "what the hell are we doing?!" This isn't easy. This isn't as glamorous as most people seem to think it is. It's not all chocolate, cheese and weekends in France. It's not all drinks with our international friends and exploring Switzerland in our free time. Most of the time it's feeling lonely, dealing with culture shock (yes it still happens 2 years later) and the ever present question of "when are you coming home?"

4. When you're an expat, you get the best mail. Letter writing is not a lost art. Trust me. It's not. It's better than an email. It's an indication that someone has taken the time to sit down and write and think about you the whole way through. The people who choose to do that are truly special. And we've been on the receiving end of a lot of love. Everything from John's small town local paper to a box of our favourite cereal. We seriously get the best mail.

5. You need to celebrate the little things.

6. It get easier but it never gets normal. We live in Switzerland for the love of jebus. Two stupid kids who fell in love in University found their way to living in Switzerland. Heck, one of them works for UN organization. That's not normal. We feel at home here but it's not a normal situation we're in. We're pretty okay with that.

7. As long as we have each other...and snacks...we'll be okay.


Anonymous said…
Happy 2 years in Switzerland, you two!

What interesting observations after two years away! I think the "missing things" one is hard as is the homesickness. But there are trade-offs for everything, I'm finding. I came back to the states because of that whole "I want to experience everything in person" and while I am grateful and glad, I realize that... it's different, too. And that sometimes 15 minutes away feels as far as an ocean with how our culture is structured. It's really easy to take those relationships for granted when you know you can visit each other anytime.

Anyway, lovely lessons! Thanks for sharing!

Rachel said…
Ah, number 3 nails it. Of course I've only been here for 3 months, but I can see myself struggling with this for as long as you have. Really nice post. Oh, and nice wine there, haha! :)