Monday, June 21, 2004

21 June 2004

First of all, I finally have a cell phone!! I no longer feel naked when I leave the apartment. Sad, how exciting that is to me...

More amusing (to me) things about Switzerland...

1) The keyboards here reverse the Y and Z keys, and the punctuation marks are scrambled, as well. A little bit puzzling, having a QWERTZ keyboard, instead of a QWERTY keyboard. I have remedied the situation by popping the keys out and telling the computer to switch them.

2) Their movie theatres have assigned seating and intermission. We were watching the new Harry Potter, and all of a sudden, in the middle of the movie, the lights come on, and everyone gets up and goes out for a smoke or a snack.

3) The Swiss are serious about noise. In some buildings, they don't allow you to flush your toilet or take a shower after 10 pm, for fear of disturbing your neighbors. And don't even think about doing laundry after 9 pm.

4) Is this a fashion trend that has hit New York? We went out the other week, and there were lots of girls wearing miniskirts with capri-length leggings underneath. So odd.

5) I live near a crackhouse, or a halfway house, or something like that. So when I get on the tram on the way to work in the morning, half of the people are dressed for work, ready to go, and the other half are rather scruffy and twitching. One of them has two pet rats that she carries on her shoulders, although they also like to burrow down the front of her shirt.

6) The Swiss are serious about their trash. You can only put garbage out in regulation bags that you buy at a premium price, and those bags can only contain certain items. The bags are quite small, smaller than our kitchen garbage bags. Recycling is almost a religion. If you put garbage out in a non-regulation bag, it will stay there, or they might take it and go through it, and if you have something with your name on it inside, they will send you a politely angry letter, and charge you a hefty fine.

7) The Swiss are serious about their banking, which is no surprise. I opened an account, and it took a week for them to send me my first letter, which contained a contract number, which they warned me not to lose. Ina separate envelope, I received a card with a smart chip. The next day, a box with a calculator-type thing with a slot for the card. Then, by registered mail requiring my signature, the unlock code for the calculator-type thing. To get into my account, I had to unlock the calculator, pick a new PIN, put in the card, login to the website, and type in my contract number, at which point the site gave me a number back, which I entered into my calculator/card combo, which gave me an alphanumeric code back, which then went into the website, and I was THEN allowed into my Swiss bank account, to access my whopping 800 dollars. All that fuss for such a small account. My officemate didn't look at his mail carefully, and threw the calculator-type thing away, as well as the smart card, thinking they were freebies from the bank. He will have to pay about $70 to replace them, and can't get his account until then!! No ATM cards yet... They wait a month until sending those out.

Monday, June 07, 2004

7 June 2004

Hello, everyone!! Fiver and I have made it in one piece to Zürich, and I'm in the middle of my third day of work. The city is small but picturesque, and I have not yet gotten (too) lost. We've walked a good deal around the city, and taken lots of mental notes.

1) I may have single-handedly increased the Asian population of Zürich by about 25%.

2) Not having any sense of direction can be detrimental in a city where the streets are curvy and the street signs are not posted in easily visible locations.

3) There are few things funnier than watching two dozen men in tight white shirts and hot pants doing synchronized aerobics in the street.

4) Rap music is very entertaining in other languages.

5) There is only so much Scooby Doo you can watch before you start madly studying a German dictionary, in hopes of learning the language faster, thus expanding your television horizons.

6) I miss instant oatmeal.

I will continue to keep you posted on other important developments and observations on the Swiss front. My dog and I are temporarily living in a 3rd floor walk-up studio on top of a hill. We have a balcony, and enough space in the apartment, mainly due to the fact that I put 85% of my things in storage. Apartment-hunting will begin next month. Work is a 35-minute walk (or a 10 minute tram ride) from home. I share a large office with two other attorneys, and our office looks out onto rooftops, steeples, and green hills. Food is expensive, both at restaurants and in the grocery store. I have greatly increased my intake of bread, bananas, peanut butter, and Nutella.

Eventually, I will have a mobile phone, which will also be a Swiss number, and my land line will be my old New York number, once I get a cable modem connection, which may take a while.