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Hey Mom & Dad, 

Not sure if you still read this, but I’m moving the blog to Wordpress b/c it has better archiving features. So you can find it here suddenlyswitz.wordpress.com

If not, I’ll be back in the US on sept 17th. Think someone can grab me from the airport?

Love,

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"Staten Island was like a quaint European country. The American music was 20 years behind, and you could smoke wherever you wanted." -Sex And The City

I think the quaint European country Ms. Bradshaw is referring to must be Switzerland during Carnivale. A time when people flock to Bellinzona for a giant costume/street party. The train ride to get there is 30 minutes of Italians singing football club fight songs, people smoking cigarettes and weed, and bottles of wine being passed across the aisle. Once inside the festival, it’s good food, live bands, lots of dancing, and total chaos. 

We went for two nights, and while I gained some unforgettable experiences, I did lose a pair of fake eyelashes, one gold mask, my cat ears, my lovebug wings, and few hours of Thursday seem to be missing from my memory as well. 

Switaly continues to keep life interesting. 

I can’t even begin to recap the whole thing so here is a smattering of quotes and photos. 

"Barney… I’m not even going to lie to you. We’re going to be drinking."

"Just look for the giraffe."

"How are my wings?"

"We can’t go in there, I’ve never seen so many drunk high schoolers in my life."

"Yep… I feel like we’re on Staton Island right now."

"Khaia… no. Khaia! No!"

"God, I could really go for a kebab."

"Forty years ago people! FORTY YEARS AGO!"

"No seriously, I could really go for a kebab."

Train ride shaky cam

Duck Face. It’s a disease. I’m sorry. 

All ready to go!

Line to get in

Waiting in line. Just before realizing we’ll have to chug our drinks before we can go through the gate. 

Annnnd… just after.

Best way to never lose your friends. Giraffe costumes. 

Inside the tents

Start of our second night at Carnivale. It should be noted that this photo was taken by my bosses (Anne & Bjarne) after they kindly invited my friends (Their children’s teachers) in, gave them wine, and laughingly told me they didn’t expect to see me before mid-afternoon the next day. Pretty much the two coolest people you could ever nanny for. 

Drinking Prosecco while being interviewed by a fake news reporter on the train platform

I’m apparently physically incapable of making a normal face in photos. 

So many people waiting for the train

Not sure what I would do in Lugano without this one

Smurf band!

Unfortunately leaving us in March. #Stupidvisas

Probably singing Whitney Houston

My favorite photo of the night. Whatever Julia was feeling really failed to impress Jennifer. 

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A year ago today, I woke up an hour earlier than normal, fixed myself a cup of coffee, and logged onto my computer so I could Skype with Anne. We had previously exchanged a few emails, but this was our first time meeting. We talked about the boys, my previous nanny experiences, and life in Switzerland. At the end of our conversation she said, “Well, you take some time and think about it, and if you’d like to join us next year, let me know and we’ll start the process of getting your visa.” I then walked to the office and put in what will go down in my history as the most worthless workday of my short career. I should have been writing a creative brief on ETNs (not sure I even remember what those are anymore) but instead I kept google image searching Lugano and asking myself if I should do this.

It felt like a reckless decision. I realize how lucky I am that I had a job I (for the most part) enjoyed, and more importantly that I had coworkers I referred to as friends and bosses I greatly respected. Giving up that security was a frightening thought. More frightening though, was the undoubted regret I would feel in a few years if I turned down this opportunity.

At the time, I was cat sitting for Molly. After work, I walked to her apt to feed Maxwell, plopped myself on the living room couch, took in her amazing SF view, and called my mom. For an hour she let me go on until I had exhausted every concern and excited emotion in both my heart and head. About the time in the conversation when I started listing possible ways I could handle my student loan repayment while in Europe, my mom cut me off and said, “Khaia, your getting mired in the details too early. Try and let that go for now and just ask yourself what you want.” Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how important my parents’ respective opinions about the potential move were. I needed to know that they didn’t think I was thumbing my nose at my education and throwing my career away. Once it was clear I had their support, all my other apprehensive thoughts seemed to quiet for a moment. I knew I needed to move to Europe. It was something I had wanted for a long time and I would never forgive myself if I let fear and money concerns get in my way. I hung up the phone and turned to Maxwell who was curled up next to me. “Well cat, I’m moving to Europe!” I announced. I loved how it sounded. He, of course, was indifferent.

Mom and Dad. Thank you. I don’t say it enough, but your support through this entire adventure means the world to me. I feel so lucky that you are my parents. This year WAS needed. I can’t imagine having not met the Riis family or having not experienced life here. I wouldn’t be in Switzerland if you both hadn’t been so encouraging. Also, thank you for not turning my childhood bedroom into your new gym or office. I just looked at my bank account online and I may need to crash there for a bit come this September. Hope thats cool. 

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Nico LOVES our housekeeper Teresa. I’m pretty sure in some past life they were best friends, because they have a connection that can’t be explained. Most times, when Teresa is here, Nico wants to be with her, and if you have to take him away from her he freaks out. I know it’s ridiculous to take these situations personally, but I do, and I can’t help it . Usually when he starts crying uncontrollably, the second she hands him off to me, the only logical response I can think of is to also tear up (have I mentioned I’ve been a little overemotional lately?) As soon as she’s out of sight, the tears stop and we’re on to our next set of adventures and giggle fits, but man if those initial tears don’t sting a bit. I’ve always felt like I’m not a very jealous person when it comes to relationships, but being this little one’s nanny has taught me that is total bullshit. I often catch myself thinking, “WHY!?!? Why don’t you love me as much as you love her!?!?” (The column entitled “Personal Improvement I Need To Make After I Moved To Europe and Realized I’m A Crazy Person” keeps getting longer). 

But then there are days like today, when I pick him up from his preschool play group and he RUNS across the room into my arms. In those moments I think my ovaries heart is just going to explode. 

As I type this, he’s turning the trash can over on my floor and pulling out the entire contents of my purse. Whatever. Sometimes I love The Little Monster so much I don’t know what to do with myself. 

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"Oh! Bring your ski jacket, looks like it’s gonna be pretty cold in Geneva."

And the award for understatement of the year goes to Ms. Julia Wilikins, because our trip to Geneva this past weekend was just about the coldest thing I’ve ever experienced. Apparently a Siberian cold front has swept across the town. The stabbing pain I felt on any piece of exposed skin verified that information. 

We joked in the car ride over that we were going to eat and drink our way through Geneva, but seeing as we could only walk about three blocks before having to pop into a shop for a “thaw out” break, it turned out to be true.

Despite the cold we had a good time and lots of laughs. How can you not love a roadtrip?

Here are somethings to keep in mind when traveling to Geneva:

- The French are pretty serious about both your speed and following distance in the 11km Monte Blanc Tunnel. Should you get slapped with 250 Euro fine (which you must pay immediately) you can leave your passport and drivers license with the police and travel 4km to Chamonix (A very cute/expensive French ski village) to search for an ATM. This will delay you about an hour.

- Should someone in your party accidently dine and dash in the hotel thinking that breakfast is included in the room fee, continually remind them that their petty theivery will come back to haunt them. Don’t, however, let them return to the hotel to pay the 20CHF. Thats just a ludicrous price for eggs. 

- Geneva is expensive. Like, “Can I just promise you my first born instead of paying our cafe tab?” expensive.

- Corner markets aren’t supposed to sell you alcohol after 9pm, however, they will if you’re willing to treat the whole transaction like a drug deal. The clerk will yell at you to shove the wine in your bag quickly before you pay for it. This will fluster you and result in a very poor choice of wine.

- If the cafe has a sign in the window that says “Vin Chaud,” stop there. 

- If its too cold to do a walk by the UN Hall of Nations, drive by on your way out of town. It will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something besides freezing your ass off. 

- Once your toes freeze past the point of feeling, you’ll no longer be in pain, but you will be nagged with the constant worry that you’re going to loose those toes if you’re outside for ten more minutes. 

- You’re not in an Italian speaking city anymore. For the love of god stop saying “Grazie.”

- Seriously, a money bag is a great idea for when you’re traveling/roadtripping with friends. You each put a set amount in the bag in the beginning. Then the rest of the weekend when you have to pay for gas or a meal, you just dip into the bag. You forget you paid upfront, you don’t waste time dissecting the bill, and all weekend you feel like the money bag is paying for your adventure instead of having to grab your wallet all the time. Great idea Tine!

I’m starting to freak out a little bit as I realize I’m almost halfway through my year here. There is still so much traveling I want to do, and I feel like I haven’t made very much headway in the weekend adventure department. However, when I showed Mom my pictures from this weekend she commented on how amazing it is that last month I was in 70 degree weather on an island in the Atlantic, and now I’ve experienced ice storms in Switzerland. Mom’s are great for putting things in perspective. Looking forward to the next outing.

An abandoned building had hundreds of these in the window. 

Old Town

Seeking refuge from the cold in a cafe

Prepping for Valentines Day

The Ice Apocalypse 

"Khaia, you can’t see your face!"

"Just take the freaking picture!"

Later saw people ice skating along the pathway

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Yeah… soo… I love him. 

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Last night as we were sitting down to dinner, we asked the boys if they had finished their homework. In a demonstraiton of his math skills Cris goes, “Khaia, you’re three times older than Matty.”

And then this happened…

Matty: “Khaia, when you were in school, could you do the same things as boys?”

Me: “What do you mean Matty? Like on the playground? Was I good at sports?”

Matty: “No… ummm… could you… were you allowed to go to school?”

I wanted to tell him that I was desperate to walk with my older brother everyday to the one room school house four miles down the road, but mamma needed my help on the farm milkin’ the cows and darning socks. But if I’ve learned anything these past few months, it’s that dropping sarcasm on an 8 year old has less than favorable results. 

So, I explained that while it 90s seem like an ancient world to him, girls were allowed to go to school with boys. Then I excused myself to see if I’ve recently developed crows feet to nicely balance out my gray hair. 

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It was November of last year the first time Jesper told me about his favorite restaurant in Morcote. We were well into the second day of our three day juice fast, and like any good masochist, I made him slow down and describe in perfect detail how the house specialty risotto is prepared in a giant wheel of parmesan. Then I walked out of the room and cried on my bedroom floor because I was so hungry. 

Jesper and Bjarne usually save a trip to this Italian kitchen as a post 4-hour ride reward, but since my bike skills are sub par to mediocre, I figured when the opportunity presented itself, I could just skip the cycling part and get straight to the risotto. 

And get to the risotto we did. Two Friday’s ago, Jesper and I decided to extend his birthday celebration, take advantage of the sunshine, and treat ourselves to a leisurely lunch. 

As if they day wasn’t shaping up perfectly already, Jesper discovered that his new swiss phone (aka: MY new swiss phone once he abandons me for Denmark) has some pretty incredible photo features. It wasn’t long before our leisurely lunch was transformed into an impromptu photo shoot where delicious food just happened to be present. As the wine consumption increased afternoon went on, our laughter escalated. Morcote is picturesque little town right by the lake. The restaurant is quiet with lots of outdoor seating. There were maybe four other people having lunch there. And we were absolutely that one loud table. While I doubt the other patrons appreciated our presence, I think our waiter loved us or at the very least found us entertaining. 

The food was incredible. The risotto definitely lived up to Jesper’s description, plus it was accompanied by some very nice rabbit. I guess since I ate Bambi at Christmas, it was only a matter of time before I put Thumper out of his misery. 

Nice little afternoon…

And then shit got weird…

*Photo credit to Jesper (Suddenly In Switzerland’s only favorite guest photographer)

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An 8 person household and everyone has the flu. Run. Run for your lives. 

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Making progress on saying my name.