During this year in Zurich, Andy is attending the Zurich International School, a lovely school spread over three campuses providing pre-K through 12th-grade education to hundreds of children from around the world. Last night we attended a parent-teacher night, rotating through each of Andy’s classrooms to meet his teachers and to hear from the guidance counselors about their work supporting the college-admissions process. Three things were particularly striking:
The families come from all over the world. Fascinating mix!
Most of the teachers had ten or twenty years of experience, each having spent 3-5 years in a variety of countries and continents. There seems to be a particular sort of person who thrives on the multi-cultural experience and international lifestyle, migrating every few years (like most of their pupils) to a new place and a new experience.
The guidance counselors work with children who apply to a wide range of colleges and universities across the US, UK, Europe, and beyond. The range of application requirements and procedures seems enormously complex, yet they seem cheerfully ready to engage with any student’s destination.
The school has beautiful facilities on the outskirts of Zurich. The drab industrial exterior belies a more inviting interior.
We’ve moved into our new flat, which is a quiet four-story, 3-apartment building nestled within the old ETH campus, and just two blocks from my office. It is spacious and reasonably comfortable, and looks out over some ETH buildings across central Zürich to the lake and hills beyond. On this clear late-summer evening, we can see the peaks of the Alps glimmering in the sunset glow beyond the hills.
Some of the little things I’ve noticed during my first week living in Switzerland.
Some of the little things I’ve noticed during my first week living in Switzerland, in no particular order:
Efficient. The public transportation system is fantastic – trams, trains, buses, and ships are pervasive, efficient, integrated, clean, timely, and understandable. I sold my car before we left the US, and don’t miss it!
Clean and walkable. The city streets and sidewalks are spotless, and the air unpolluted. Genuinely pleasant place to walk. but:
Smokers. Lots of smokers. Living in Hanover and the Upper Valley I forget how prevalent cigarettes are in Europe. I enjoy sitting in an outdoor café or biergarten, but have now learned to check the wind direction and the location of smokers before I choose a seat.
Friendly. Everyone here has been super kind and helpful.
Expensive. And just try keeping an 18-year-old growing boy fed in this place! (We will need to double our budget.)
Beautiful. Zurich is a beautiful city on a beautiful lake. It helps that the weather this week has been downright perfect – sunny, warm, not too hot, not humid; perfect for an evening glass of bier at the sidewalk café below our flat.
Historic. Everywhere I turn, as I stroll the old streets between our flat and the university office, are centuries-old buildings just dripping with history. Seven chemists received Nobel prizes from their work in this building. Brahms played music in that house. Einstein was a student here at ETH around 1900.
Bread. Fresh croissants every morning! Enough said.
Delectable food: so far I’ve had Thai, Japanese, and Indian food. I suppose one of these days I need to find some Swiss food.
Green. Many tree-lined streets and microparks make for a pleasant walk through the back streets to my office. Still need to explore the many larger parks.
Sundays. All shops close on Sundays. It leads to a very relaxed feeling in town.
No bugs. With all this warm weather, we leave open the windows (really skylights, because our temporary flat is at the attic level). No screens! because there are, amazingly, no bugs. I note all windows in the neighborhood are the same.