Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back in Bellevue, Washington - we're no longer expats!

We can no longer call ourselves expats anymore - we're back in Bellevue again.

It's great to see all our old friends again, and plug right back into our former social life.  I do miss Geneva and our friends there a lot, though.

We're back in our old house - it feels so huge!  It's 3200 sq ft, so large, but not incredibly huge by American standards.  Our our apartment in Geneva was about a third of the size, though.  It feels like acres of rooms,  vast swaths of counter space...sheesh, and the cabinets...what did I ever put in there?  The kids can play downstairs, and I can literally not even hear them.  But I never really felt cramped in our Geneva apartment. I've always liked smaller spaces, and to me it seemed that there was plenty of room.  Also storage was set up more intelligently in Geneva - there weren't these huge cavernous closets like we have here, there was more easily accessible shallow storage.

Some of the differences between Geneva and here that struck me the most are:

  • Nobody's walking on the sidewalks!  And that's where sidewalks even exist.  One of the most traveled roads close to my neighborhood, Newport Way, has a library and a community center on it, but no sidewalk at all.  You're forced to drive, or take your chances on a really busy narrow road.
  • Back in Geneva I drove maybe 5 or 6 times total once we bought a car - it was just rarely necessary, and usually I let Eric drive.  Here I've already driven at least 20 times, and have just slid right back into the driving lifestyle.  There's really no alternative, not in the neighborhood that we're in.
  • Customer service is incredible here.  You go to a store - not even a high-end store, a regular store like Target or Walmart - and clerks are usually helpful, friendly, and even chatty.  Very different from in Geneva.
  • Finally, no more sticker shock.  Prices at stores are reasonable.  We just went to a mega grocery store (Winco) to stock up on groceries since we have nothing, and came away with a car full for about $300.  It would have cost at least $1000 in Geneva.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Finishing up in Geneva

All good things must come to an end, and thus it is with our time here in Geneva.  We're headed back to Bellevue in late August, and the kids will start school there the next week.

I've experienced so much here, met so many great people, and seen so many amazing sights.  It's been a life goal of mine to live overseas for a while, so that has been checked off my bucket list.  But it has certainly left me with a greatly expanded appetite for the novelty and freshness of living overseas!

The minutiae of moving has been occupying my days recently.  Selling the car, getting the attestation de depart (an official document stating that you're leaving the country, without which you can't cancel any contracts), arranging movers, selling the things we won't be bringing back - all takes a lot of time.  I've been having to make a lot of phone calls in my broken French.  I have a decent accent in French, so people assume I speak pretty well, but my vocabulary is quite scanty, so basic things sometimes stump me.  Then I'm there on the phone, trying to fire up Google translate and hit speakerphone at the same time - stressful! But so far everything is going okay.

Not having a routine (no work, kids not in school) is definitely something that sounds better than it actually is, for me anyway. I find I got a lot more done in the little bits and pieces of time I had outside of work than I am now.  But as soon as I find a job back in the US, maybe I'll be longing for the free time I have now!

What will I miss most when we're back in the US?'s a long list.  I think how I can walk to everything, and living right next to a big park and very close to the lake are close to the top.  I've been swimming with the kids at Baby Beach almost every day now for the past few weeks, and it's been awesome. I'm able to go out with my goggles into the deeper water - it gets quite clear out there too, I can see all the seaweed and yesterday saw a bunch of perch too.