Expat Life – Going Home

For the last two weeks we have spent our days swaddled in the arms of genuine, family  love.  The kind of love that only family can render.  We have fallen asleep with smiles on our faces recalling days of laughter, dinner conversations that stretched late into the night and children naturally falling into the lives of cousins and kin.  We laughed that hearty belly howl that left tears in our eyes and warmth in our hearts, the kind of laughter that is absent most days.


We felt the joy of touching down in a State that saw us through our formative years, a place we both used to call home.  Memories naturally flooded over us, nostalgia washed up like waves on the shore that at one time looked ever so familiar.  The smells, the sights, the connections all filled those tiny hollows that filter in when you leave a place and those people you love.


Naturally, questions come to the forefront…what would our lives look like had we never left?   Is this a State we could adopt as our home?  Are we doing the right thing?  The truth is, we don’t have answers to the questions that fill our minds.  The reality is, we have worked hard to create the life we have and this life we live has been good to us.


And thus we resume our everyday existence, grateful for the experience that will keep us smiling through the cold, wintry weather, and once again, we are forced to make sense of our place in this world.  But as we sift through the memories, we feel blessed for the people that have left us with such a meaningful impact on our lives, the people that love us and make this life such a rich, profound experience despite where we call home.


Expat Life – Embrace the Detour


“Detours in life may lead to discovering places we never knew we loved.  Embrace detours.” – Anna Pereira

2017-07-15-Betmr_451Be prepared for it, that extended stay you swore would never happen. That one/two year contract that sounds utterly romantic at the first swipe of your pen, the break you might need from your everyday existence might just become your permanent reality – trust us on this one.

Though you might not believe it will ever happen to you, the reality is, it happens all the time. Many, like us, dive into the expat life thinking it will be for a short stint, just enough time to get your feet wet, explore your new country, take that much needed hiatus from your ordinary life and perhaps advance your career track, but before you know it, the two year contact you signed morphs into five, ten, or even twenty years. Gulp!

Why does this happen? How does this happen? We cannot speak for everyone, so we will simply share how our one/two year contact became ten. When my husband was offered a new position within his company, the one caveat of the contact was that he must commit to five additional years in Switzerland. For us, despite all that we had left behind in the States, we continued to feel captivated by our new home. We both knew that we were not finished with our experience and thus, despite the gut wrenching decision to prolong our return to our home country, we signed yet another contract enticing us to stay longer.


With that additional swipe of the pen, we decided it was time to dig our feet in the sand and start living like permanent residents, something we had neglected to do previously.   Permanent living meant making big life decisions and letting go of our tethers in the States. And thus the planning began. We decided we would try and start our family abroad; we sold our home in America, moved into a bigger flat and moved our belongings out of storage. We started living as though we were at “home” and continued the normal progression of our lives. No longer would we put off plans until we were back on American soil, life was happening all around us and we were ready to dive in.

Now ten years in, despite all that has transpired in those 3,650 days has, in some regards, been wrapped in the normalcy of an everyday life, despite that massive bow of the unknown, of newness, fear, excitement, disappointment and constant growth.

There is something intoxicating about still not having mastered all of the intricacies of our new lives. The humble fumbling of the German language, the school system we navigate with caution, the culture we are embracing, are all indications that we are the living a life ingrained in newness, decision making and the thrill of figuring it out as we go. Our lives have become a never-ending classroom that continues to school us time and again.


And thus, we highly recommend embracing those detours that life hands us and the understanding that when you are truly at the helm of your life, you have the ability to alter the course of your once chosen path.   Still navigate with caution, but never be afraid to change your direction for one simple change has the ability to alter your path forever.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Anthony Robbins



Emergency Medical Care – Basel


So, here is the scenario.  Christmas morning you wake anxious to greet the the day that has been in the works for months now,  your children are eagerly bouncing off the walls and you find your husband sick, that is, sicker than a dog.

Your family Dr. is obviously not available and the sheer thought of the taking him to the hospital, ripe with germs, and a plethora of crazed people, wraps you in the arms of panic; surely there has to be a better way.

There is, we assure you.  Medix is a walk – in clinic that services all medical problems, including urgent care 365 days of the year from 7:00 – 10:00pm.  The clinic is located just across from the Basel train station, which was clean, and extremely efficient.  We walked in, filled out the necessary forms and within 20 minutes, we were seen by a Dr. on staff.  Note of warning, you will need to pay for your medical services immediately after being seen by the Dr., so be sure to pack your wallet with a way to pay for such services.


Centralbahnstrasse 3 – 4051 Basel – +41 (0) 61 500 11 00 – http://www.medix-toujours.ch


Banhof Apotheke Drogerie – 365 Days – 4051 Basel – 061 283 3065


Expat Life – Where Are You From?


Oh, that little question, “Where are you from?” still gets me.  A question I never thought much about until we moved to Switzerland some ten years ago.  Growing up, we were a family that moved frequently.  Five States to be exact before I turned 16, but I always considered California home because to be honest, it was where we had lived the longest.

California is where I grew up.  Where long day and endless summers were spent exploring, playing tennis, swimming until my hair was tinted green and growing up along side of my best friend.  California, oh that Golden State, witnessed me go from child to adolescent and my heart was crushed when my dear father announced we would be moving East after finding a new place of employment. Even when residing in the States, I was always from Cali.   So, now, when people ask where I am from, I typically refer to the old standby, “Well, before moving to Switzerland, we were living outside of Philly, but honestly, I have lived all over America.”

The other night, as we were snuggled up in bed, our nightly conversation ensued.  “Can you believe we have lived here ten years?”  We both fell silent; “The longest I have lived anywhere,” I muttered.  Ten years is a decade, an almost lifetime in the eyes of our children, yet to us, this time together, creating our family, building careers and shying away, embarking on a whole slew of firsts, seems to have spun by ever so quickly.

When we think about the notion of home, especially this time of the year, most reflect on a place, but honestly, over the years and throughout my lifetime, I have come to learn that home is not necessarily a place, but rather a feeling.  And thus, as we embrace more indoors than out lately, this tiny place of ours feels just right and very much home.



Expat Life – Together Again


“They are our storytellers – our elderly are meant to be those who share the secrets of wisdom and knowledge and life with our youth.” – Cameron Diaz

I read the lines on a Facebook post and it broke my heart.  “Elderly people frequent the grocery store two – to – three times a day just for social interaction.”

This made me think about an idea that had been festering in me for quite sometime.  What if the expat community (but honestly anyone for that matter) were to “adopt a grandparent(s)?” What does that mean?  An expat family, residing in Switzerland, far from their own family and grandparents, would reach out to an elderly person or couple in their community in hopes that together they would each benefit from their new found friendship.

You see, as expats residing in a country far from home, that often means that we are sadly raising our children without the unique connection they might have with their own grandparents.  By reaching out to the elderly in our new communities, perhaps we can create a relationship between our families and those individuals that might be feeling alone; thus fostering the powerful connection between the young and the old.

What would that bond look like?  It is hard to say and would be unique for each family, however, the idea is to reach out to the elderly and invite them for a cup of coffee, a meal perhaps, write hand written notes to each other (pen pals), invite individuals to your child’s play or sporting event, include them in the activities that our children’s own grandparents would normally participate in, should we live in close proximity.  Thus filling a void on behalf of the children and the elderly.


How to get involved?

I will be honest, this is a completely new initiative and one that I have never embarked upon with my family, but there is a need and thus, I believe we should do our best to full that emptiness.

I need your help.  Do you know of a home for the elderly that would appreciate creating relationships with local families, which might mean our German skills are emerging at best?  Do you have a neighbor that might benefit from a pen pal?  Do you know of a Senior Home that would benefit from the energy of youth in their community?

Please let me know by posting a comment on this site.  Together we can create happy communities one family at a time.

“The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.” – Andy Rooney

*Update:  I reached out to the Dalbehof Elderly Residence in Basel and my students might become pen pals with the residents in the New Year.  If you have an organization that would benefit from student art or letters, please let me know.