And so it begins


View from the octagonal mini-window in my room, Klein-Basel, Switzerland

Day 1 in Switzerland. Did I mention that was going to be moving here for 2/3 of the year for the next 3 years to do a PhD program? Well, here I am. Yesterday was my first day. I managed to wrangle all my luggage from the airport to my flat (no small feat considering one bag had my skis in it), register at the Migration Office which is the last step all non-EU foreigners applying for Swiss residency have to go through, and get most of the necessities (sheets, pillow, portable wardrobe) to make my mostly-furnished room comfortable. When describing the place to my friends and family I apparently neglected to mention that a) it’s less of a room and more of an alcove separated from the rest of the attic of a 2-story apartment by curtains, and b) it has no heat except what rises from the floors below – it is a penthouse finished attic after all, but I guess it’s not THAT finished. Good thing I moved in in March and not in November. Interestingly enough it ends up being the same winter temperature of our house in upstate NY when the heat there is ON, so Dad, you can now claim to have built my character or something. Heh. From a tent with no A/C near the equator to an attic with no heat in the Alps. What is my issue with extreme temperatures?


The Penthouse! Otherwise known as the attic. Note the gorgeous plastic floor. Posters are coming down ASAP. But it is bright and sunny and has a nice view.

My roommates (all 4 of them – 3 on the 1st floor of the flat and one up in the attic with me, except she has an actual room with a door and walls) have been super nice and helpful so far. Offering to teach me German, plying me with food and beer my first night, accompanying me on my shopping jaunt, even offering to lend me clothing when I realized I only had 1 pair of pants with me and money when my credit card didn’t work right away at the store. Don’t worry, the last two items were sorted out. But seriously, they all take the attitude of taking care of each other and pretty much everything in the flat is communal. My old cynical nature (I’m older than everyone else by several years) says it can’t all be this happy, no one shares everything like that 100% peacefully and some people always end up doing more than others, but I’m choosing to focus on the fact that so far it’s off to a good start. Now all I have to do is get used to the bells from the church in the picture above ringing demurely once every 15 minutes and crazily like it’s Christmas day once an hour!


About Petunia

She wore rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes And I knew without asking she was into the blues She wore scarlet begonias tucked into her curls I knew right away she was not like other girls ~The Grateful Dead
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8 Responses to And so it begins

  1. RW says:

    Considered Switzerland once as more than just a visit. Can a person get by on English and, if not, what is more recommended, German, French or Italian there?

    • Petunia says:

      The most recommended language is heavily dependent on the region. In the North, Central and Eastern regions of the country is German but French is pretty much exclusively spoken in the West. Italian is only spoken in the South. I am in the far North by the borders of France and Germany and am getting by quite well on English (so far I’ve only encountered 2 or 3 people who do not speak any English), but French has been very handy to have as a backup. Plus, I’d rather practice my French sometimes! In general when addressing someone I say hello in German (and therefore using 1 out of the total of 5 words I know) and ask in English if they speak English or French. So far the response has been 50/50 about which people prefer as a second language, but I’ll keep a running tally and report back on the blog 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m so laughing right now. I love what a busy body you are and that you have hopped across the globe once more to plop yourself in an… is unorthodox the word?… circumstance. I also love that you have found a ‘penthouse’ and supportive roommates. Great start!

  3. Munch says:

    I love the picture framed by the window! And thank goodness you described your space so eloquently because it looks cozy and adorable in your picture. Final note: I love the idea of you being the oldest in a situation. LOVE it! Lots of food details please! and Rock ’em Dead! I’m totally excited about your next adventure!

    • Petunia says:

      Glad you liked the pic! The room is completely cozy and adorable. I will be the oldest in age but way behind in other things including knowing the city and the language, so it all evens out in the end. Maybe I can practice my mother hen skills, we’ll see. Food details will be plentiful!

  4. Kyle says:

    That room is seriously cool, even if it might be a little chilly in the winter.

    I’m excited to read about your life in your new city!

    • Petunia says:

      That’s how I roll 😛

      And once I’m settled in I am totally going to start scouring the city for engaged couples who need a wedding photographer so you and Seba have an excuse to come hang out in Basel!

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