First month in Switzerland

I flew Qatar Airways from Dubai to Zurich. It cost me around 800 US Dollars for the journey, which was way less than the other airways.  Zurich Airport, also known as Kloten Airport, is the largest in Switzerland . Our flight landed in Terminal E, which is entirely used by non-Schengen International Flights. (The Schengen Area is the area comprising 26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders, also referred to as internal borders. It mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy, according to Wikipedia)

As soon as we got out of the flight, we were directed to a train which would take us to the main Terminal for Passport Control and baggage collection. The bizarre nature of this train is you get to hear cows mooing, bells ringing, shepherd/ cowherd calling, the whole gamut of sounds that you imagine and expect of Switzerland. Switzerland! I couldn’t believe I was there already. I was about to start a fresh chapter of my life. Everything felt surreal…

After we got down, we queued up for passport control. As my turn came, I was greeted with a big smile by a police officer, who checked my passport while asking a few questions like the purpose of my visit, etc. I found him such a pleasant contrast to the airport authorities in India and Dubai.

With my passport stamped and baggage collected, I went looking for the train station. It is pretty common here to use trains as the chief means of transport. It did not take me long to locate the station as it is right beneath the Airport. As I did not know how to use the vending machine to buy a ticket, I bought one to Winterthur from the sales person in the ticket counters. Winterthur is about 27 km from the city of Zurich.

All along the train ride, I saw cows dotting lush green fields and gorgeous tiled houses. It reminded me of my aunt’s village near Mangalore. I couldn’t stop thinking… India is just as beautiful as Switzerland, if only we took as good care of our surroundings as much as we nurtured our own homes…

The cheapest way to reach my hotel would have been to take the Bus number 2 from Winterthur main station (Hauptbahnhof) to Feldtal, and from there to walk 10 minutes through Fluelistrasse to reach Oberfeldstrasse 10. The HR of my company had booked a room for me at the Hotel Hessengueetli there. But since I was carrying 2 heavy bags and wasn’t yet familiar with the roads, I decided to take a taxi from the station to the hotel which cost me around 20 US Dollars. The Owner was very kind and sweet. She told me that she owned the hotel along with her husband, and their son helped them with the business.

After we discussed the terms and conditions and I signed the contract for a month, she drove me to the building where I would be staying. It was 2 blocks away in Feldstrasse 10. . For a month I would be living in a studio apartment, which was just a small room with a bed, balcony and a bathroom. There was no kitchen, only a coffee machine and a microwave to warm up my food. I paid around 1500 US Dollars for it, which included the use of TV, electricity and Wifi facility.

In order to get acquainted with the place, I had arrived 3 days earlier than the date of joining. I landed on a Saturday, right before Easter. This meant that the entire city would be celebrating and hardly any shops would be open. Thanks to the hotel owner who told me to go immediately to the nearest supermarket Coop before it closed, I was able to stock my supply of fruits, bread and milk for the weekend.

old town

I spent my first weekend strolling around Winterthur main town. I found familiar brands like H&M, McDonalds, Subway, Mango etc. Though the shops were closed for the weekend, many restaurants and coffee shops were open. I found an Indian store in the city where I bought ready-to-cook Indian curries, Maggi packets, frozen Naans that I could warm in the microwave.

old town

I started commuting to the office by bus. Every evening after work, I would go to the city, sit in a coffee shop and read. And when I got tired, I just watched people. This became my favorite pastime.

Old Town

I fell in love with the place, the people, the architecture,the coffee shops, the pizzerias, everything… They made me want to come back to this place again and again.

You can read Part 1 here.

Beginnings of my life in Switzerland

Written by Madhurya

I am not a good writer like my sister. She is a great writer. But still, with her help, I will try to narrate the beginnings of my life here in Switzerland, one of the beautiful countries in the world.

As a child, I was never keen on travelling to a new place. I still remember the time my family decided to visit New Delhi. From the moment we climbed the train, I was anxious to go back home. While my sister loved and still loves to explore new places, learn the language, understand the history, experience the culture of that particular place, I am more of a “stay-at-home” person.

I cannot say when this attitude changed, probably when my parents moved to Dubai, taking me along with them. I still remember the walks my parents and I had along the beaches of Ajman. My dad would point at the ships sailing across the sea and say they were coming from Russia or going to some European country. Listening to his stories thrilled me and made me want to sail around the world too. After completing my bachelor`s degree and gaining some experience in the professional world of  Dubai for more than 3 years, I took up the job offered by my current Swiss company.

Convincing my family to let me go  was not the hardest part. Getting all the travel documents ready to apply for my visa was much more difficult. In order to obtain the Swiss Visa, you need a work permit and a temporary resident permit from the hiring company. It takes a minimum of 8 weeks to get these permits. The reason it takes so long is because, whenever a company wants to hire a person who is not a resident of that country, the ministry requires a justification from the company saying why this candidate is preferred for the job over a citizen or a resident. This practice is common in most of the European countries.

After waiting for 2 months, I finally received these permits and immediately applied for the visa. The visa came without any validity. As per rule, within 2 weeks of my arrival in Switzerland, I had to go to the Einwohnerkontrolle (Ministry) to apply for the resident permit which is valid for a year.

I was lucky to get the Visa in 3 days. I bid farewell to my family, friends and to the place I had called home and flew to Switzerland. I started looking for hotels and apartments through different websites provided by my HR. I had to make all the travel and living arrangements on my own. However, my HR offered to book a room in a hotel close to the city center for a month. Though it was expensive and didn’t have a kitchen, I agreed to stay there as I could not find any other place…

(to be continued… )

Back Again

I am feeling like a kid who is being dragged to school, kicking and crying, after a long holiday, as I type this post. It has been long since I last posted and I can’t seem to recall how I ever did this before. I wish I had someone to drag me to my table and force me to get my work done!

I make excuses when I should be posting about all the crazy and beautiful and fun things happening in my life: “My in-laws are traveling and I don’t have help”; “I have to get Medha to do her homework and prepare her for her speeches (She is only 5 by the way!) and get her ready for school and Tennis lessons”; “I have to keep up with an endless stream of questions of “What’s this?”, “What’s that?”, “What happened?” and so on from my 2 year old”; “I have to clean”; “I have to cook”. What not! I’m tired of listening to my woes!

I know what my problem is. I just find it difficult to get back into my groove after a long gap. I need to remind myself that I have done this before and If I do it regularly enough to make it a habit, I won’t have to go through this ever again…. Anyways, enough of this rambling. Let me share something exciting with you. I decided to shake things up a bit around here and invited my little sister to come on board this blog. And she accepted it! Yay!

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Welcome Madhurya!

Madhurya works and lives in Switzerland with her husband Mike. They spend most of  their time biking or sailing in their own boat. Reading and Crocheting are her favorite activities (apart from chatting with me, of course!). She will be sharing her travels, projects and life in Switzerland. Switzerland! Sounds exciting, right? Plus, she will provide the much-needed kick in my pants (virtually) to get my work done. I can’t wait to share our stories with you…