This has been the longest time I have gone without posting since I started this blog almost four years ago. The last two months have by far been the hardest two months we have experienced since moving to Switzerland.
We started seeing the problems with living away from family in late February. Julie’s Mother was admitted into hospital with breathing problems, and it was very serious. Thankfully, Julie was able to make a fast visit back to the US and see her Mother, because unfortunately she did not recover. Julie’s Mother passed away on 11 March. Karen’s passing meant we made another trip back to the US to be with Julie’s family. For those of you that know Julie, or knew her mother here is a link to the obituary: Karen Marie O’Connor
The time period from when Karen got sick until coming back from the US in mid April demonstrated pretty much everything that is bad about moving away from your home country. If you remember back in February, I had a post about having to get my passport renewed. That was the beginning. Things we used to take for granted like being able to call a family member is suddenly much harder. If we make a call at 11 AM it is either 3 or 4 AM for our family. If they forget and call after work, Julie and I have been asleep for two or three hours. In most cases, time wise there really is not that much different in how long it would take us to get back to where our family is, but the COST is something completely different. It cost us roughly $500 to get each kid to Florida for the funeral. Our cost for the cheapest ticket we could find was closer to $1500.
We also got a surprise letter from one of the insurance companies last week. Remember back in February I talked about Julie’s knee surgery? Well the accident insurance decided they were not going to cover the “accident.” We have drafted an appeal letter, and in the letter showed where a torn meniscus meets the definition of an accident. The insurance company basically said, it cannot be an accident, because there was no outside event that caused the injury. Well, the Swiss Government decided about five years ago, that there are some accidental injuries that do not require an outside event. The law specifically says that a torn meniscus meets the definition of an accident. Keep your fingers crossed for us. If the appeal fails it won’t mean bankruptcy, but it will certainly be a big bill. Probably not to US medical standards, but still big!
I am working on another post that talks about why no one likes air travel any more, because the flight back to the US was the absolute worst experience we have ever had in regards to connections, lost items, and poor customer service.
While we were in Florida, I did learn that even though driving is a stressful experience in Switzerland, it is nothing compared to the stress of trying to drive around Ft Myers, FL. I was so glad to be back to the land of strange signs, narrow roads, and parking conditions that make driving seem like playing a game of tetris (trying to fit moving blocks together so they fit nicely and do not crash!). The biggest headache about driving in Ft Myers revolves around traffic lights. I learned that yellow lights no longer mean what they used to mean. Now they mean that if you are 1/4 mile away from the intersection and the light turns yellow, you do not prepare to stop. You floor the accelerator, and get through that intersection at all costs. Based on the reactions I got when I prepared to stop, I was LITERALLY concerned about Florida’s gun laws, and that someone was going to start shooting at me, because I made them stop for the red light. The next thing I learned about the traffic lights is that green no longer means go. Green means stay exactly where you are for 30 – 60 seconds and look every direction, because at least three cars are going to ignore their red light and go through that intersection no matter what.
After we got back from the US, we had three days to get ready for summer of visitors. My parents visited this past week.
We had a very relaxing visit. I worked very hard in Florida, and the days before their visit to make sure I was ahead with all my school work. It meant that instead of spending four or five hours every day studying, I only took one day with the school books.
After they had a good nights sleep we started with a visit to the Stiftsbibliothek (Abby Library) in St Gallen. I think this was my fifth visit, but I knew my parents would really enjoy the site. Every other time I have visited the library the docents were around to make sure that no one even thought about taking a camera out and snapping a picture, but those rules must have been loosened. I had my phone in my pocket so I took some pictures this time. The library is in my top three places to visit in all of Switzerland.
Unfortunately my pictures of the room do not do it justice. It is one of the most amazing rooms I have seen!
I took my parents to visit Colmar, France. We visited the Lindt Museum and Factory which is right by our apartment. The weather was really nice day on Saturday, so we took a lunch time cruise along Lake Zurich. I also took them for a drive along one of my bike ride routes. They got to see some of the hills I train on, and they could not believe that I have not been run over, yet! I kept my Dad busy. I took him to Jumbo which is the Swiss version of Lowes. We bought some potting soil and plants for our balcony garden. Next weekend Julie has to go and pick out the flowers she wants for our balcony boxes!
After our first visit to Colmar I wrote about how disgusted I was with the brass plaques bearing the Statue of Liberty. Well before we drove back to Rüschlikon, my parents and I visited the Liberty replica in Colmar. Many people think the statue is there because that is where it was made. That is not the case. The statue is in Colmar because that was the birthplace of Auguste Bartholdi, the artist that created the statue. It was put in place to commemorate Bartholdi’s 100th birthday.
Well, my parents left for the US this morning; so the grindstone continues for a couple of more weeks. I have three weeks left of my semester. I really hope my classmates wake up in one of the classes. I have been contacting them for two weeks about starting our final project. Almost no one in the group is responding and we really need to get going. Making the final project will not be hard, but we have present the project together. I don’t know about you, but the idea of making a Zoom video of our presentation is NOT appealing to me in the slightest.
In my other class, I am experiencing something never excperienced before. I am almost done with the class three weeks before the due date. I have a final program that I am working on due in two weeks. but I have already written the research paper due the last week of class, so all that is left is to make a powerpoint presentation of my paper. I figure that is about two hours of work. Even more surprising is that I can completely ignore the extra credit program also due the last week. I will probably do it, because it will be challenging and fun, but I am sitting at 102% of the points in the class with only three assignments outstanding. I think I can turn in what I have right now, and I will still get no worse than a B in the class. I will be exactly 1/2 way done with my Masters program this May. I am taking the summer off to because of all our visitors, and to hopefully to get a couple (four) trips in with Julie, as we work on our bucket list of places we want to visit. I am also going to keep training to try the Alpenbrevet again this September. Hopefully, I won’t get Covid again, because that will be devastating to my psyche!
Enjoy the pictures. I will have another post out this week, talking about the folly of our trip back to the US a few weeks ago. One word of advice. Don’t fly Eurowings!