How Adventurous Are You?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

 I always liked to think of myself as a free spirit, someone who colors a little bit outside the lines.  But, the truth is, I pretty much live and die by my routines and I am not one who handles change very easily.  I've made a few big decisions in my life, the first being moving to California when I was in High School, and the second was moving to the East Coast for Law School. At the time they didn't really seem that big, and both were ultimately changes for the better.  Now, I am very settled in my life, and even though every day is a page out of the movie Groundhog's Day, I am perfectly happy, and content living my day to day routine. If it was up to me, I'd probably live here, in the same town until Gray graduates, not changing a thing about my life.  Well, since I'm married, it isn't all up to me, and from the beginning I knew that "someday" we would probably have to move to further my husband's career. That "day" has come and gone so many times, and up until now the conversation has always been would the move be to Northern or Southern California. Lately, however, discussions have shifted, and the dialog has me seriously questioning how adventurous I really am. 

As I've mentioned before, my husband grew up in Switzerland, and my kids are both Swiss. Since I've met him, my other half has always talked about moving back to the "motherland"and recently we have been seriously considering whether it would be an option for us to move over there. Whew, I said it out loud. Just so my best friend doesn't have a heart attack, the big move probably wouldn't be for another 5 years or so, but the idea of even considering such a move really has had my head spinning. 

Up until now, my main hesitation outside of what it will mean for me (meaning how can I live without my family and friends) and what it would mean for the kids. I can tell you right now, I love their primary school so much, that I can't stomach the idea of pulling them out of that environment, especially since Gray hasn't even had a chance to benefit from such an amazing school. Any time the topic of moving to Europe has been brought up, it has just as quickly been shut down with, "talk to me when it's time for High School." Well, my crafty husband did a little research, and would't you know it, there is a very similar American school, in a picturesque little town, exactly where he wants to live. We thought it would be ridiculously expensive, but wouldn't you know it the darn thing is actually cheaper. After this revelation the list of my reasons for not moving just got a lot smaller. 

Again, this is all superficial conversation, and no one is going anywhere yet, but I have to admit the prospect is gaining some traction around here. I mean, it is Europe!!! If we moved there the boys would have such an incredible life, with the Alps in their back yard. Paris, Italy... the world at their fingertips (or a few hours by train) and socially/ politically the kind of environment we dream of them growing up in. No mass shootings, reasonable gun control, the kind of place where you don't have to worry about them playing in the yard or walking to school by themselves. This really is the dream, isn't it? Sure, maybe not for everyone, but I'm starting to see that this may be our dream. 

I'm still not sure what this all would mean for me as an individual, but it would be one hell of an adventure. I can't even put in to words how much I would miss this life of mine, but with a six hour direct flight from Boston,  I'm pretty sure I could negotiate more than a few visits back each year, and really, who would't want to visit us if we were living in a town that looks like this?

Gorgeous, right?

I would LOVE to hear from any of you who have ever lived abroad... especially with little kids. Was it difficult to assimilate? I hear that most Americans who move out of the country naturally gravitate to other Americans. Is that true? The few times I've been to Switzerland I was in awe of its beauty, but put off by the rigidness of some of the people I met who lived there.  I wonder if I would ever get over that, or if I would change to adapt?  Serious food for thought over here. 

This one is go down as a to be continued...


Scout and Rice said...

How exciting!

I relocated my family two years, from Australia to Seattle and it has been the best thing. It was one of those fate moments where we told ourselves, even though we were happy in Australia, if we passed up an opportunity like that what else would we do? Just go along in our daily lives doing the same things that we could easily do elsewhere. Opportunities like that don't come up all the time and I personally think you should grab them when you can.
What's the worst that happens? You stay a year, decide you hate it, and come home. Nothing lost. :)

We moved when we my daughter was 10 months old and I can happily say that making friends in other mothers was so much easier than I expected. I did some research into online mother's groups before we left, and I would strike up conversations in cafes and at parks. It took a few months before I made some real friends, but until then we were so caught up in settling in that I never felt lonely.

It's true what they say, about how you gravitate towards other expats. About 60% of my friends here are Australian, and the rest are Americans that are not locals to Seattle. There's something about being able to talk to someone from your own country that is so comforting, I didn't even realise I was craving another Aussie until I met one.

Be brave and go for it if the opportunity arises - you'll show your boys what a real adventure is about. Nothing is ever permanent and you can always (and probably will eventually) come home.

Oh I should add! A good friend of mine relocated from Australia to Sweden some years ago and she doesn't plan to ever leave - the work/life balance there is fantastic, it is one of the best countries in the world to have children in.

Good luck! (and apologies for the uber long post)

Anonymous said...

My family lived in Lausanne, Switzerland for two years when I was in 5th and 6th grade in the early 80's (my dad taught advanced business management programs for European execs). I probably have a romanticized view of the country, but it always struck me as stylish and orderly and I loved learning French. My sisters and I initially attended a British/American school, but switched after 3 months to a private Swiss school that had an immersion program.

My mom was very active in the American Woman's Club, and all her friends were mostly American or English-speaking Europeans. She loved it, although this was 30 years ago. We always thought the Swiss were difficult to get to know, but if you're married to one it might not be so complicated!

I now live in NYC (but grew up in and around Boston) and would have loved to live abroad with my own family! I let that dream go a while back, however, since two of my kids were extremely late talkers, so introducing another language wasn't advisable.

All I can say is that if your spouse is from the country you're moving to, you've got a real advantage. I have no idea what it's like to live in Switzerland these days, but I loved it when we were there. To this day, my family refers to events in our history as "before Switzerland" or "after Switzerland." Wishing you all the best!


Lou said...

Hi - I am afraid I can't write from the perspective of someone who has moved but from the perspective of someone who has spent a long time thinking about the ramifications of moving! Hah - so typical me.

We have the opposite; the possibility of moving to America - San Francisco to be more precise - has come up many times because of my husband's job. When our kids were small I completely baulked at it as I could not imagine being without the support network of my Mum and friends. Now though, they are grown up and I see that actually - brace yourself - we should have done it when they were younger! With Boo especially - nearly 13, we have missed the boat of it being an easy move. We could do it - but it would cause her such heartache. Partly for leaving her friends but also because she worked hard to get into the school she is at, she would feel that we were making her start again. Even with our younger child, 8, it would be a wrench. Whereas when your kids are under 6, they are SO much more pliable and open. I can't tell you how their world shrinks to friends and familiarity when they get on in school. This is good as these friendships will last them a lifetime, as will the friends we have made through their schooling. BUT, it does lessen our chances.

So all I would say is - don't hesitate too long. My sister in law did it was two under 5 - moved to Dubai and has never looked back. Now is the time!!! Hmmm - food for thought. As for Switzerland - yes it is LOVELY! Lou x

Anonymous said...

My husband is also Swiss, as is my son, and we lived there for 4 years. Make no mistake, it is a wonderful place, but it is very isolating for an American that is used to having everything at her fingertips.

Anonymous said...

I moved to the UK from the States so we could be closer to my husband's family, and am so happy we did. It was a bit of culture shock at first, but I really enjoy the better work life balance here, and all the Continental travel.

My grandparents were Swiss, as was my father...the impression I have received is that women are In a more traditional role there...they were some of the last to get the vote in the developed world...just saying. Beautiful country, high standard of living, but something to mull over. Maybe an extended visit before the big move?

Gardise said...

Do it! ;) it will if nothing else make your kids way more open and better their chances in all kinds of ways.
I say that as someone, who has not got kids yet, so bear with me. I have lots of friends with kids though in multinational families, e.g. being serbian, greek, agyptian, eastern european, german, american, what not living in London or Berlin. They all face certain challenges like the kiddos starting to speak later and sometimes being confused, in the long run, they understand different situations and reflect any other being so much better than just being all american, english or german etc in the first place. English may not for all eternity be such a dominating language. And especially in Switzerland out of all European countries you will have to make an effort of learning/ using the language(s;b).
As a German, who has lived in Ireland, London as well as Switzerland for quite some time. I have to say, the Swiss are special, they tend to be conservative and very proud, but they back it up in most ways. Once I proved I can "engineer" and therefore am not the secretary in the big Engineering practice, I was treated as an equal and all respect I sometimes miss in a very rough German construction business. Swiss are very classy but in mostly the good sense and not so much the annoying way. Plus you would be in such a pool position for holidays down there (not just the beautiful lakes/ mountains in your fore or backyard but the mediterraineans just around the corner and all the different other European cultures just a hop on a plane away. Dont wait any longer. We keep up great friendships with Eastcoastamericans easily over here and it sounds like you may even have some family of your husband there you can support and ease your transition.xg