Living in Europe, One Year In
Depending upon how you calculate the move date, I have either just passed or will soon pass the one-year mark of living in Europe. (So many anniversaries! Arnaud and I just hit our one-year-married anniversary, after all.)
We arrived in Lausanne in late August 2018, yet I went back to Houston after six weeks for approximately six weeks to celebrate my mother’s birthday and tie up a few work and personal loose ends. I feel like I only truly landed in Lausanne as a full-fledged resident in late November.
Whether we’ve passed the anniversary or have it on the horizon, I’ve jotted down the following observations after one year in Europe.
Update on the Views
Europe—whatever part of it you visit—has amazing vistas.
European views are the kinds of views that people who grew up in the United States have trouble grasping as actually real—“real” as in places where people live and work, rather than manufactured settings from movie sets and theme parks. Switzerland especially has some amazing vistas.
I’ve gotten a little more used to these views, one year into living here. I don’t take them for granted—I still marvel at all the snowy swans gliding across the glistening lake with the alps in the background and I always will—yet they don’t literally stop my breath and my tracks for a moment, as they did when I first arrived.
Though I feel less amazed by what I see, I still feel very much and very consciously grateful for all of it.
New Eyes Less New
A lot of the surprising and amusing things I saw for the first time when we first arrived, I’ve seen several times now. My new eyes in a new place have become eyes grown a little more accustomed to a not-so-new place.
Sure, I still see plenty of linguistic and cultural oddities that pique my curiosity or make me laugh. (After all, only a few weeks ago I posted an as-seen-in-Lausanne photo essay.) Yet I figure that, over time, these observations will change in their nature—or will even break through into my consciousness a little less often.
Respite from Hysteria
Europe has plenty of strife, conflict, and drama. The extremist politics gnashing their teeth in the United States have counterparts here.
However, the United States before we left seemed filled with hysteria, hate, mass-murders, waste, destruction, desperation, and disaffection. I see no signs of change on these counts in the year since we moved to Switzerland.
My distance from the cycle of American fear and hate and nastiness gives me significant relief. Their European counterparts, though concerning, haven’t achieved the same volume here.
Though every society has hate and waste and death, the balance of good and bad in Europe feels much more strongly weighted to the good side, at least for now.
I Don’t Miss Much
A year into living in London, I missed things from the United States. I remember asking someone to bring me salsa and peanut butter. I missed my favorite brand of toothpaste and my face wash and some makeup items.
Since we moved to Switzerland, I miss people in the United States. I do my best to stay in touch. Yet things, even tasty food things? Not so much. Surprisingly.
I don’t feel even the slightest stirring of a desire to move back to the United States, from the vantage point of one year in Switzerland.
When I mentioned finally putting the Houston house up for sale a few weeks ago, my dad said he thought I should keep it “for when we moved back.” The notion of returning to Houston surprised me, and not in a yeah-I-should-do-that way.
Does this mean I’ll never move back to the United States? I’ve lived long enough not to believe in absolutes. However, I feel no craving to return. After all, I don’t miss anything about it as of this moment, other than—of course—my friends and family.