Chronicles of a writer abroad

Details, details

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We continue to wade through all of the administrative aspects of moving to a new country. Everywhere we go, it seems, we have to produce multiple documents which are then signed, stamped, and photocopied with Swiss orderliness and vigor. In fact, we became so quickly overwhelmed by all the paperwork requirements that one of our first purchases in Switzerland was a printer with photocopy and scan functions. Now that we have this, we feel that we can better cope with the abounding red tape.

On Tuesday, we registered at the kreisburo. Zürich is divided into 12 neighborhoods, or kreise. People who are new to Zürich (whether just from another city or another country, like us) are required to attend their applicable kreisburo within 8 days of moving to register. When we presented ourselves to the office in kreis 4 (our neighborhood for now), we were dismayed to learn that while we had brought almost all of the (seemingly infinite number of) documents required to complete our registration, we were missing one, which hadn’t been printed, and remained in Stelian’s e-mail. As I sighed in defeat and prepared to head back to our apartment, to my complete astonishment, Stelian was invited to come to the other side of the counter, open his e-mail, and print the document so that we could proceed with registration. The other side of the counter! Can you imagine this happening at a government office in Canada? I can’t. I am finding that the Swiss have a veneer of cold efficiency, but that they are very kind when you can communicate with them (which, admittedly, is not much of the time for us).

Our visit to the kreisburo resulted in us receiving temporary residence permits (the real ones will arrive in the mail at some point). With these in hand, we headed to the bank to open an account — it’s exciting to have a Swiss bank account! The advisor helping us to open the account explained that, in order to access our account online, we will need to undergo a three-stage process each time. One of the stages entails getting out this little calculator-like machine that they give you which generates a new code for each login, and typing that in. Pretty high-tech stuff…too bad we don’t really have the money to warrant these Bondesque measures.

Finally, today we got Handys (this is what cell phones are called here). There are different types of residence permits issued, and because Stelian’s job is on a contract basis for 2 years, we are getting the type that is renewable each year. With this type of permit, you cannot enter into a cell phone contract (but those of you who remember my struggles with Bell Mobility when I left Canada know that I wouldn’t be interested in a contract anyway). We were happy to learn that a prepaid phone is a good option here – our phones (mine Nokia, Stelian’s Samsung – they look as nice as the ones that Canadian retailers claim are worth $100 or more each) were purchased for 30 CHF each, and that included 15 CHF of airtime (making local calls is 28 cents per minute, but texting is just 10 cents, so Stelian and I plan to do that mostly).

I’m becoming a bit more comfortable with grocery shopping, too, although there are still a number of things said to me by the cashier that I don’t understand. For anyone who enjoyed yesterday’s milk challenge, want to guess what I’m making for dinner tonight? Hint: ingredients 4 and 5 are key.


One thought on “Details, details

  1. well my igoogle german translate widget tells me that you are making something with sausage, onion and half sour cream. First I thought you were using bicycle parts because Fred, I think, has a cervelas bike and perhaps Peter too. What’s for dessert?

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