Keeping this update short and mostly photo-free because I don’t have internet at home yet.
First, the good news: yay! I moved into my new apartment!
It’s been 5 days, and I really, really love it. It’s on the top floor, so basically the attic of the building. The sloping ceiling looks low in the picture, but in real life it’s actually quite spacious, and I don’t really have to duck when I’m walking around (for reference, I’m about 5’5″, or 165cm tall).
It’s a small building of only 12 apartments, and there are only 2 units on each floor. What I especially like is that my neighbor and I are separated by a staircase, and our apartments run completely parallel to each other, which means I don’t have to worry about noise too much: I can play my podcasts at a reasonable volume when I’m cooking or cleaning.
I also like that I can finally put my name on the mailbox, something that had been a huge source of consternation when I lived in a sublet. I paid 120 francs to get name plates officially engraved on my mailbox and doorbell, but no one’s come by to do that yet, so I’ve just taped a small piece of paper to my mailbox for the time being.
With this place, I also have heating in the apartment, which is a really nice amenity for Geneva. It’s really common for apartments in Europe to have absolutely no A/C or heat. When I lived at my previous apartment, I had to blast fans during the summer and buy a space heater in the winter.
Of course, there are a fair number of challenges. First of all, the elevator is tiny, because the building obviously wasn’t built with one in mind. It also doesn’t go all the way up to the top floor; I have to get out at the floor below mine and walk up half a flight of stairs. Not a big deal.
There is also no lighting at all in the living room. As in no ceiling lamp, no light bulbs, nothing. I’d have to pay an electrician to come and install lighting. I’ve opted to buy a floor lamp instead. I’m lucky in that there are at least functional (albeit naked) light bulbs hanging in the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. I’ve heard horror stories about some people in Geneva moving into apartments with absolutely no lights at all.
Lastly, the lid on the toilet has fallen off. Somehow we’d missed this during the walk-through inspection for the apartment. I sent an email to the régie, but no response yet, unsurprisingly.
And then the two big pieces I’m still waiting on: internet and furniture. The earliest someone can come install fiber internet at the apartment is December 23. Yes, two days before Christmas! I’m pretty proud of myself for calling to set up the appointment in French, though. In the meantime, I’m using my phone as a hotspot; I think I’m supposed to have unlimited data, but honestly I’m not sure if there will be any sneaky charges, so I’m not watching any Netflix or YouTube videos at home.
I only have 2/3 of a bed. On Monday, I’d hired a small moving company to go to Ikea to pick up a bed and assemble it for me at home. They assembled the bed frame perfectly, but then we realized that there were no bed slats included in the package. The earliest Ikea can deliver is mid-next week, so I’m sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the living room for about 10 days. It actually feels fine, so I’m not really complaining.
Due to shops being closed over the past months, I’ve had to do most of my furniture shopping online, and things are moving slowly through the system. All I have at the moment is my mattress, a bed frame, two chairs, and a microwave. I might receive my lamp tomorrow. Next week, I’ll receive my bed slats, a dining table, a desk, and hopefully a washing machine. Non-essential shops are now starting to re-open in Geneva, and even the outdoor flea market is coming back, so I’m looking forward to doing some secondhand shopping again.
Make no mistake, though — the situation in Switzerland still isn’t great. Cases have fallen off after the French-speaking cantons tightened restrictions, but now the numbers have plateaued, and the federal council is worried. There might be a mandatory work-from-home order coming soon.
I’m obviously not travelling back to the States for Christmas, and I’m not sure yet if I will do any domestic travel in Switzerland over the holiday break. To be honest, being in Geneva over the past few weeks has been a little difficult, not just because of the pandemic but also because it’s been incredibly grey; not an inch of sun in sight. But I’m also very tired and just want to rest at home. We’ll see.
What I read / watched / consumed this month
Switzerland is choosing austerity over life. Read this piece in Foreign Policy if you want to understand why a country often stereotyped as organized and competent has failed so hard at its COVID response. The parallels with the United States are remarkable.
My job search after grad school has been soul-crushing. The dearth of decent employment opportunities, especially in this current context, is nothing short of heartbreaking and infuriating.
The Crown, season 4. I thought the actress playing young Diana really nailed it. She was phenomenal! My favorite episode this season was “Fagan”, a fictional retelling of the time a man actually broke into Buckingham Palace and got into the Queen’s chambers.
Tiffanie Davis’s YouTube channel. She’s the real life Emily in Paris — a young American woman working in marketing in Paris! Her voice is incredibly soothing, and she’s a great storyteller.
Why more women should be buying houses. Tia Taylor is an American vlogger who lives in Milan, and wow, I was blown away by her talk about what women need to do to take control of their personal finance, in a way that is completely independent of their partners and families. It was so raw and honest and eye-opening. At work this month, I attended two seminars on how to get started on investing. Coming from an immigrant family that is extremely risk-averse and, let’s be honest, basically financially illiterate, I never even considered investing as a possibility. But I’m turning 30 next year, and I don’t want to wait until I’m 40 to figure out how to take charge of my finances. So this is going to be my #1 personal project in 2021: making my first investment.
The Walls Close In. Absolutely devastating reporting from This American Life on the story of a Nicaraguan political activist couple that tried to seek asylum in the U.S. and was forcefully (and potentially illegally) deported.
A New Political Force Emerges in Georgia: Asian-American Voters. Just wanted to shout out my Asian-American community in Atlanta. We really showed up this election!
This Japanese Shop Is 1,020 Years Old. It Knows a Bit About Surviving Crises. This is the type of fuel that the world should run on — local, sustainable small businesses that are deeply connected to human history, culture and the environment.