So there we were, living our dreamy yet slightly risky Swiss life. Risky because any time a couple lives on one self-employed income in a foreign (and expensive) country, well, there’s always the chance that things can change quickly, leaving said couple in a precarious position. One day we were rolling along on our skin tight budget. And then, literally overnight, as they say in my homeland, “There it was…gone.”
Neil’s major source of income, a beloved Canadian company for whom he worked joyfully for 15 years, has decided to close—a sad event for all involved. We’ve always known this could happen, and that uncertainty was a point of discussion at every point along the way in our Big Adventure Abroad.
I always imagined if it happened we’d have a fair bit of notice, but despite my expectations, the world does not revolve around me. Shit happens. The good news is we no longer have to carry the worry of impending disaster—it is here.
The nuts and bolts of this are pretty simple. We have a cushion of about 2-3 months during which we’ll have to scramble like never before to figure out our next move. Neil will make every effort to see what opportunities are available to him here in Switzerland, but that may take time, a commodity we may have less of than cash. Even for experienced professionals, creating a whole new career in a different culture is very, very difficult, especially when all your best contacts (relationships that took years to create) are 5000 kilometres away.
Because I’m not fluent in French (just give me a minute while I accept the Understatement of the Year Award), it’s not like I can just pop out and take up any old job. Just to give you some Swiss perspective on the matter, McDonald’s wants workers who can speak French, German and Italian. I’ve been working on an idea for work and while it’s a good one, it’s a long way from being viable. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—if you’d like to avoid surprise, you need to avoid having a pulse.
Now don’t let my glib yet fabulously entertaining tone fool you. On the scale of being freaked out—1 being sitting on the floor all zen-like with the incense burning, chanting, “The Universe will provide,” and 10 being racing naked through the streets of Vevey screaming, “THE END IS NIGH!!”—I’d say I’m at about 6 (copious wine ingestion, chocolate gorging and persistent self-analysis, so pretty much like any other day of the week).
In all seriousness though, this will be one of our greatest challenges yet, both as individuals and as a couple, and we’re both reeling from the shock of this development. Will we be able to stay in Switzerland? Will returning to Canada be the best option? What sacrifices will have to be made and how can we stay true to our dreams while making sure we can put food on the table?
Whatever happens, I have crossed a few items off my bucket list: I dared to seek joy, I lived in two foreign countries, I wrote a book, and I learned how to swear in French. Overall, pas mal, oui? I have no idea what’s next, but then again—that was always the deal.
I am committed to being with Neil (wherever that may be) and I am committed to a career that feels right. I just hope by the time this is over I’m not committed to an institution.