My Glamorous Swiss Life

I did not know what direction this post would take when I started writing it earlier this week, but it has evolved into more of a reflective post about how living life as an expat isn’t always as glamorous it seems. Therefore, I have created a new “Reflections/Personal” category to file this under and wanted to put out a disclaimer that this post is directed more towards friends and family — and also to fellow expats.

I was going to post about my recently acquired GA pass which allows me to travel the country. It’s a beautiful thing and I made use of it by traveling to Konstanz on Monday, finding a nice cafe on the Rhein with free wifi and working on my grad school applications.

Sojourn to Konstanz

However, I decided that the post praising the wonders of the GA can wait.

You see, I’ve been in a reflective mood this week. Maybe it has something to do with me trying to wrap my mind around writing a personal statement for grad school and thinking about what I want my future to be. In thinking about this, I’ve been reflecting on my time here and how things are so much different than I imagined them to be.

Before I came here, I had imagined a lot of things about how my life would be. I told people that I would have so much time on my hands to do all sorts of personal projects, like finally put together the wedding video (yeah, still not happening), learn how to play the piano and guitar, and have plenty of time for Coursera classes. I’d learn German. I’d learn how to cook and always have a warm meal for my husband. I joked with Aunt Shana and Uncle Dave that I’d be making a trip to the market every day. And most of all, I knew that I would spend most of my time traveling and exploring.

Well, now that I’ve been here 4 months (today!), I’m noticing that my visions of life in Switzerland are not all as planned. Come on fellow expats, back me up: when you are finally living the dream in a foreign country, you find that priorities you thought you would have become shifted and new ones quickly take their place. It can be disconcerting, feeling like you aren’t accomplishing what you told everyone back home you would be doing. And yet it can also be greatly rewarding — finding things to focus your energy on that you would have never imagined when you were dreaming about this glamorous lifestyle way back when.

So, for me… Learning German? Ok, yes, I’m now in level 3 – so this mostly remained a priority, though I feel I never have time to practice or utilize it because A) I surround myself with expats on a daily basis and B) In the land of Swiss-German, it’s not as easy as one might think to practice high-German. Cooking for Mr. Goat? Haha, oh please. I’m actually rather surprised at just how unenthused I am about cooking in general these days. Personal projects? Don’t know if I’ll ever have time! And traveling? Well, this is another area that I’ve seen missing in my life here (besides the few weekend trips Mr. Goat and I have made).

It feels strange. To not have time for all these things that I decided were priorities merely months ago. And thus, I’ve been re-evaluating my goals this week. What is really important?

Well, here is the list I’ve compiled about what I consider (now) my top priorities:

1. Grad School application and studying for the GRE

2. Musical Rehearsal

3. Red Cross volunteering

4. Travel (yes, it’s moved down to #4!!)

5. Learning German

The problem with this is my other various engagements constantly threaten to take over my time — including various social groups and activities I have found myself a part of, trying to make this house a home, planning for friends and family who are visiting, etc. It’s amazing to me  just how easily my time can be used up and just how many distractions I have bombarding me on a daily basis. The previous though was: hey, I won’t be working, I’ll have time for everything.

The thought now is: how did I become this jumbled and when will I ever get anything done?? Interesting to realize that when I was employed, I had it easier. It was so much simpler to draw the line with activities I had time for vs. those I didn’t. To feel like I could get things done. Now, I cannot seem to accurately gauge just how much of a time-suck all my activities are.

I recently have tried many time-management techniques to make myself more productive. So far, nothing has really worked. Don’t get me wrong, I love being this busy and to have discovered so many productive ways to spend my unemployed time. But in a lot of ways, I feel so much more scattered these day. I feel like I need to get more grounded. To fall into more of a routine. And to stop taking on so many new activities! Apparently, much to my dismay, I can’t do it all.


4 Responses to “My Glamorous Swiss Life”

  1. Heather Says:

    Still sounds glamorous to me… 🙂

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Rachel,
    Thank you so much for writing these posts and updating us on your life in Switzerland, it may be the only way Dave and I ever get to see it. I love reading your posts even though I don’t always leave a comment. Your writings are so descriptive it’s like we are there! Your life sounds so exciting and full and you seem to be engaging in so many different things. We are all so proud of what ever you choose as your goals and I wouldn’t doubt they continue to change as you love to explore and live life to its fullest.
    Have you been to the market lately?
    Aunt Shanna

  3. Bea Says:

    I totally get what you’re saying about what you thought you’d be doing here vs. what you’re actually doing here. I went from full-time work in the states to very part-time work here in ZH. I also feel less productive now that I have more ‘free time’ on my hands. Ugh.

    Keep up the good fight with respect to learning German! I’ll bet those trips to Konstanz help with your comprehension. 🙂

  4. Dubious Hausfrau Says:

    I totally understand the whole fantasy vs reality thing. At first I thought I would be living the dream. Writing from home, travel, twirling in meadows while eating my weight in chocolate and cheese. In reality it’s standing the grocery store wondering how they can charge 5 francs for such a tiny of peanut butter and wondering what they hell you’ve gotten yourself into.

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