This time last year, the McCord family was living in an apartment off Peachtree Street and preparing for our move to Zug, Switzerland. (We are writing this exactly one year after we received a signed copy of the lease to our place in Switzerland.) By January we were moving into our new home, situated on the lower slopes of the Zugerberg overlooking the Zugersee. Though it seemed to take forever before we truly felt settled here, Zug is starting to feel heimelig. When we’ve been away for a few days, the first sight of Zug from the train produces that warm, relaxing feeling of home.
Sophia is settled in at school and learning German like a champ. Arica is regulating at her job, which includes a lot of travel to snappy places like Montevideo, Valencia, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Rome, Paris, Warsaw, London and Bali. And Lance is living the curmudgeon’s dream of working from home. Daisy and Olive had a rough period of adjustment, which included a tiny bit of trying to murder each other. And while we were all secretly a little disappointed when they failed, we are glad that they seem to be settling into the new normal.
We have all learned lessons since we arrived. We learned that sometimes you need to leave home to really appreciate it. We learned that you can usually fit your car into spaces smaller than you’d think. And both Arica and Lance have learned (to our poor car’s detriment) that sometimes you can’t. One of us learned to ice skate and graduated from My Little Pony to Monster High and Clone Wars. All of us have learned about an entire category of clothing (“winter wear”) that we previously believed to be primarily for fashion purposes, but which we now understand to encompass essential misery-prevention tools. We learned that walking in deep snow is wicked hard. We learned to make chili with the ingredients you can find in Swiss stores. And we learned how to order a Happy Meal auf Deutsch. (Over here, they call it a “Happy Meal.”)
We learned that there are some awesome things about living in the US. The internet is better, for one thing. Not transmission speeds—those are definitely better in Switzerland. But try limiting yourself to domains that don’t end in ‘.com’ or ‘.net’ for a few days and you’ll see what we mean. Stores in the U.S. are open at insane hours like 7:30 pm or even on Sundays. And thirdly, the social contract in the U.S. is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules—you can stray a bit outside the norm without incurring glares and muttering.
And there are some great things about being in Switzerland: fast, cheap, efficient public transit, for one. And people follow all of those rules here, which can make life feel very… maybe “civilized” is the right word? Like you always know where any given pedestrian or car is going to be 10-15 seconds into the future. Being able to spend the weekend in Paris without taking out a second mortgage is good. And cheese and chocolate, if you’re into either of those things.
Thanks to the friends and family who have visited in 2013, and we can’t wait to see those of you who will stop by in 2014. We wish all of you the very best possible version of whatever winter solstice appropriation you celebrate and the best of luck in 2014!
Lance, Arica and Sophia McCord
6317 Oberwil b. Zug