15-Month Anniversary

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I have to be honest: I’ve been totally wrapped up in trying to power through the 90-degree Fahrenheit/32-degree Celsius temperature inside our un-airconditioned Geneva apartment and get some studying done for exams, and did not realize I was due for an anniversary post until my trusty phone alert late last night. Thus, you’ll have to forgive that this entry is short on thoughtful expat reflections, and accept a substitute of some very wise attic apartment advice instead: When it’s 90 degrees outside, do not leave your windows open all day in the hope that a breeze will bring some fresh air into your flat. There is no breeze and your apartment will somehow stay at a sauna-like 90 degrees all week as a result — even though it’s back down to 70 degrees outside. (You’re welcome.)

Outside of studying for exams — four more to go! — Gui and I have been spending our time down by the lake relaxing between workdays and classes, and soaking in what I really do think is Geneva’s best season now that I’ve experienced them all: Summer. (I know, it’s still officially spring, but this weather says otherwise.) The city comes to life with swimmers, sailors and festivals, and it’s really a different atmosphere from the quieter winter months when downtown empties out in favor of the nearby ski slopes.  Continue reading

Understanding Your British and Irish Friends: An American’s Guide

Since we moved to Geneva last year, I’ve had some incredible opportunities to learn my husband’s native tongue of French — but I’ve also had the pleasure of expanding my English vocabulary from a purely American repertoire to one that understands that your Irish friend has not, in fact, just declared that she’s high (more on that later). Indeed, it turns out that the differences between American, British and Irish English extend quite a bit beyond the occasional “bloody hell,” and often can lead to some rather amusing confusion. I’ve been keeping a list of some of those particularities since I started grad school last semester, courtesy of my dear — American dear that is — classmates who call England and Ireland home. So without further ado, here it is: An American’s Guide to Understanding Your British and Irish Friends!

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One-Year Anniversary

It’s quite the leap of faith to move to a country you’ve never before set foot in, trusting that you’ll be able to make a home there. It’s also very much against my Type A, super-planner personality. But two years ago today, that’s exactly what we did, and I am certain that we are better for it.

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Sunrise from our Geneva-bound plane, one year ago today.

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Expat Battle: Blogger Collaboration!

Hey guys! Amy from the awesome blog Food Etcaetera asked me to inaugurate her new series called “Expat Battle,” which features expat bloggers discussing their experience in a new country. Amy is a Swiss blogger living in the United States and I’m an American living in Switzerland (duh), hence the “battle” 🙂 French speakers, get excited: You can enjoy the post in English and French by adjusting the language in the top left menu bar, thanks to Amy’s translation skills.

Check it out here! https://www.foodetcaetera.com/en/expat-battle-1usa-switzerland/ 

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On Going Back to School

img_2408I turned in my first grad school paper Wednesday morning and I’ve spent the past two days reflecting on the whirlwind that has been my return to classroom after a seven year hiatus. Happily, I’ve found that I still love learning. Give me an afternoon discussion about TB at the World Health Organization or a morning lecture on human rights and HIV/AIDS and I’m totally hooked — though perhaps that’s not so surprising, as it’s one of the things I’ve always loved about journalism: every day you get to learn and write about something new.

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On Being Sick Abroad

Getting sick is never fun. But getting sick abroad has the added challenge of trying to track down your tried and true remedies in foreign terrain. Two weeks ago I had an allergic reaction to a bug bite. Benadryl? Nope, apparently you have to go to France, as the Swiss pharmacies stopped carrying that formulation. Looking for a refill for your bottle of Tums? Well, it seems the nearest country you might have luck is England. Somehow fall up the stone stairs in front of your university? (yes, I know, I’m special…) Neosporin is not a thing here. Fall prey to a weird summer flu that wreaks havoc on your stomach? Ginger ale and saltine crackers are a rare find in Genevois supermarkets (a big thank you, Gui, for your perseverance).

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CERN: No Goggles Required

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I had the pleasure of hosting one of my favorite people in Geneva last week, and, being a bit of a science nerd, a visit to CERN was at the top of her “To Do” list. For those of you who are not super into physics, CERN is where scientists build fancy machines to accelerate particles and crash them into each other. The goal is to learn more about the components of matter and, ultimately, the universe. Apparently, getting a tour of the expansive facility near the French border is one of the hottest tickets in town: You can reserve a spot 15 days ahead of your desired tour date, with a 24-person cap per group. At the 15-day mark, I signed online during my lunch break only to find the tickets sold out! Luckily, we had a second day that could work for our schedule, so I took things to the next level the following day. I signed on at 8:29am, having read that fresh batches of tickets are released at 8:30am, and, when the clock turned to 8:30am, raced to fill out the online form like I was trying to get into a Beyoncé concert or something. Happily, I was successful, and informed my friend who was in India at the time that I was officially the best friend ever. And then I was late to French class. Such sacrifice!

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Provence: Lavender Fields Forever

Last week was our return to “real life.” I started my all-day summer French language intensive, Guillaume was busy at work and in my downtime I was trying to catch up on more than two weeks of neglected housework (laundry, cleaning, restocking the fridge and attempting to revive my sickly plants). So when Friday night rolled around, Gui and I weren’t feeling enthused about our original plan to wake up early the next morning and drive three and a half hours to Provence. Instead, we decided we would take it easy and let ourselves sleep in. Then, if we woke up refreshed, we could head to Provence later that afternoon for an abbreviated visit.

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