Reflections On Our Swiss Family Sabbatical

So, once upon a time a Colorado family took a break from their careers and moved to Switzerland for a year and hijinks ensued.  Our year in Basel ended June 18th when we flew out of Zurich back to the states, complete with 14 pieces of luggage, 2 car seats, and 54 weeks of memories.  The van we hired to shuttle us and all that gear to the airport arrived early in the morning.  As we loaded it up, neighbors came out to the street to say goodbye.  We wished we had gotten to know them better earlier on in our stay, with some relationships not fully forming until a couple months before we left.  It felt as if we were leaving too soon, that we still had unfinished business there.  But, looking back now it is clear that we had a very full year with new friendships and memories we treasure. Here are some of my (Barry’s) favorite things about our year: Continue reading

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Sometimes (OK, lots of times) Baffled in Basel

I never know what I’m doing here, but one of the perks about plucking yourself out of your normal routine and plopping yourself down in unfamiliar territory, is that you can immediately feel OK about not knowing what you are doing. Living abroad can be confusing (and embarrassing), but it is also comforting to know that it’s not (all) just me being ridiculous. Sometimes I think I could write a book about how to embarrass yourself abroad, but then I realize that for me it would simply be one instruction: walk outside. Here are a few examples of me doing just that. Continue reading

Basel’s Winter Carnival (Fasnacht)

Beginning the first Monday after Ash Wednesday each winter, the normally reserved Basel-folk don masks, grab their piccolos and let their freak flags fly for exactly 72 hours straight. Okay, by “freak flags” I mean lots of marching, confetti and satire – this is Switzerland, after all. Basel’s Fasnacht is said to be the largest carnival in Switzerland and dates back to, at least, the 14th century (many city archives were destroyed in the earthquake of 1356, so it is hard to say exactly when it began here). Continue reading

Life in Basel So Far

It is hard to believe we are half way through our year-long career break / sabbatical / rat-race-escape! While most of our posts have been about places we have traveled to, we haven’t shared much about life in the town we live in – Basel. Since summer turned to fall, we have traveled less and spent more time here going to school, exploring the town and learning about its traditions. Continue reading

Practically Swiss

It has been a month since we landed in Switzerland to begin a one year career break / sabbatical.  While I hope we might dig a bit deeper into Swiss culture later on, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the practical aspects of daily life in Basel that are different from the U.S.  So, I polled the girls and here is what we came up with so far, in no particular order. I figure if we can master the practical aspects of Swiss life, we are practically Swiss–ja? Genau. Continue reading

The Tippy Top

On a day threatening to rain we thought we’d stay (relatively) close to home and explore Basel a bit. We first went to find my work on public transportation so that on my first day I wouldn’t arrive two hours late after being overtaken by tram-pirates (I have not heard that is a thing, but I imagine it might be, and so am now worried about it, which is totally normal). We found work without incident but it was closed, which makes sense since it was a Swiss holiday. (Whit Monday; apparently that is a thing, but I don’t know enough to worry about it. Perhaps that is when pirates take the day off to plan their next tram attack? OK, now I’m worried.) Continue reading