One month until we depart for Europe. We are excited! Even the kids seem to be getting more excited than nervous. I think Ernest (9 yrs old) is in for a rude awakening, when it will finally dawn on him why I’ve been encouraging him all along to try harder in his French lessons, but at least Fritz (11 yrs old) seems ready to hit the ground running. At this point, I am pleased to report that all of the stressful things that were at least partially out of our control have been resolved:
– visas secured (so many hoops, see previous post, but like childbirth, I quickly forgot the degree of discomfort…)
– house here rented to a nice family
– found an apartment there (furnished – a rarity! small – not a rarity!)
Lessons learned: ask questions of the right people (in the case of the visa, the Swiss Consulate in NYC) until clarity is achieved, Facebook works well for word of mouth (renters for our house), keep an open mind and be flexible (re: the apartment there)… although in the case of our living situation there, our Fribourg connection really hooked us up. We will be subletting from an academic who will be in Canada for the year. This is ideal for us, as she “gets” what we are doing & is in the same field as Papa Hatch, the apartment is furnished and in a great location, and because we are a known quantity, the whole process is friendly and easy. We will need to adjust to a smaller space, communal laundry with no dryer (yikes!!!) and being quieter for the neighbors’ benefit. However, the rent is very reasonable, especially by Swiss standards, which will help us A LOT with the shell shock of the double-cost of groceries etc. compared to the U.S.
Now there is still stress, but it is all manageable, and it primarily consists of getting the house ready for the renters. Nothing remains on my (still long) to do list that would prevent us from going if it doesn’t get done. Big relief! The kids have been surprisingly helpful, and they will be going to camp for two weeks before our big departure date, during which we will make the final big push to Get Stuff Done.
Papa Hatch happens to be in Fribourg for a couple days Right Now and has dutifully scouted out the new apartment, kids’ school, and – oh, the burden he bears – the local community pool and eateries. He reports that it is utterly charming and VERY hilly, especially during a heat wave.
The Hatch travel plan in early August:
* drive 4 hours to Toronto, where the flights cost just over half of what it costs to fly out of our Midwest hub
(overnight flight on Icelandair – generous baggage policy and least expensive – to Reykjavik)
* two nights in REYKJAVIK, Iceland
(fly to Paris)
* one week in PARIS
(train to Fribourg, Switzerland)
The boys will start school less than two weeks after our arrival in Fribourg. The school is 500 meters (1/3 mile) from the apartment, and as is the Swiss way, they will walk there (and back and there) and back. Yes, that’s right, they will be coming home for lunch every day. Their schedule will be 7:45-11:35am, home for lunch, then to school 1:45-3:30pm. They have Wednesday afternoons off, during which apparently “everyone” (including the Hatches) will head out to go hiking or skiing.
Off to clear out more closets…