Saturday, July 28, 2007

Swiss Kids...

Switzerland’s interior minister, Pascal Couchepin, has created waves among
political parties in Bern, following outspoken comments on the subject of giving
Swiss nationality to those born on Swiss soil. With just three months until
parliamentary elections, Mr Couchepin has gone against his party, the Radicals,
and says he thinks children born to foreigners who have fully settled in
Switzerland should automatically be given Swiss nationality. The cabinet
minister said nationality should only be granted to children if their parents
have been awarded C-permits, meaning they were well-established and
well-integrated into Swiss society. However, even with those conditions, the
idea is still a controversial one in this country. The Radical party has firmly
distanced itself from Mr Couchepin’s argument, while his stance has been met
with derision by the Right-Wing UDC party. Left-wing parties, however, have
welcomed his comments, saying that as a country with high immigration, granting
Swiss nationality to second-generation immigrants makes sense for

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More time off?

Swiss workers should have an extra week’s holiday to help them recover from
the stresses and strains in the workplace. That is according to the Trade Union
Travail Suisse which is calling for the standard holiday entitlement in
Switzerland to be increased from five to six weeks. Employers, however, are not
impressed and have described the demands as ‘unnecessary and exaggerated.’
Swiss workers are some of the highest paid in Europe but they work some of the
longest hours. By law, we are entitled to four weeks paid holiday a year but
most people manage to take five, which is the European average. However, workers
in France, Germany and Italy have more time off than we do. Travail Suisse says
working life is not a sprint but a marathon and people need more holidays to
relieve the pressure of work and relax. It also helps to redress the balance
between work and home life. The Union is launching an initiative to get six
weeks holiday on the statute books and needs to collect 100,000 signatures in 18
months to call for a nationwide vote on the issue. However, the Swiss Employers
Association is fiercely against any changes and says that workers in this
country have more holidays than those in Britain and the United States and
extending the current holiday entitlement would be at the cost of Swiss

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Train....bad news, good news, and great news

The bad news is that the local train store does not have and cannot order the Marklin HO Thomas the Tank Engine set.

The good news is that Niamh has become very interested trains. She enjoys watching the trains go in circles and looking at the Thomas book.

The great news is that I just heard Emily refer to our guest room as the "train room."

Gender Gap in Switzerland – Wider than European Average

Women all over Europe earn less than men, but in Switzerland the gap is
more pronounced than nearly all other countries in Europe. That is
according to figures released this week by the European commission, compared
with figures for Switzerland from 2005. This country ranks 22 nd – just
behind Great Britain and Finland and way below the European average.
Federal figures show Swiss women earned around 20 percent less than their male
counterparts. The EU average is around 15 percent less.

Harry Potter

Emily headed to the bookstore, Payot, this morning to get a copy of the new Harry Potter book. The store was basically empty; just Emily, the employees, and stacks of HP. I was worried that there would be long lines or not enough copies. It seems odd that people in Fairbanks are lining up a week or two early, but there isn't even a line in Lausanne.

We have the UK version, which is shorter and stouter than the US version. Pictures of the kids with the books will be posted later this weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One adoption...three governments

Assuming we adopt a child (or children) from Ethiopia, we would need to officially adopt the child in Ethiopia and then re-adopt the child on in the US. Once the child is picked up in Ethiopia we would have to immediately go back to th US for a few days to finish paperwork, but the child would be a US citizen upon arriving in the US.

We've learned that getting a B (residence) permit in Switzerland is not straight forward. We are supposed to get pre-approval from the Swiss government before moving forward with the adoption, so we have an appointment with a Swiss social worker on the 20th of August. She doesn't speak English, so we will try to get our French teacher or one of my coworkers to go with us.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A quick trip to Bern

Emily was able to schedule an appointment for fingerprinting at the embassy in Bern yesterday. Fingerprints are only done on Friday afternoon, so we didn't have much choice in when to go. It takes about 1.5 hours to get to Bern and the embassy is about a 10 minute bus ride from the main station. We decided to walk instead of taking the bus, so it took us about 35 minutes to get to the embassy.

We had to show our passports, leave our bags at the gate, and go through a metal detector to get inside. At first we were the only people waiting to be helped,but another American arrived to get fingerprintsafter about 30 minutes. Our appointment was at 3 and her appointment was at 3:30. We were all fingerprinted at 3:45, which was a bit frustrating. The good news is that there were toys in the waiting area for kids to play with.

We stopped off at a chocolate store and a toy store on the way back to the train station. Purchases were made at both locations

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Famous Swiss People

I thought this list was interesting. I don't think everyone listed is Swiss and am disappointed that I couldn't find Richard Scary on the list.

Change in plans

We were planning on visiting the Geneva police station to get fingerprinted as part of the adoption process, but there has been a small change in plans. Even though the US consulate in Geneva provide the forms and the possible places to be fingerprinted, it seems we got the wrong information. The paperwork from the consulate is incorrect. Instead of going to one of the big three(Bern, Geneva, Zurich) police stations, we have to go to the embassy in Bern. They only fingerprint by appointment and only on Fridays. We don't have an appointment yet.

This is a little disappointing because instead of a 30 minute train ride to Geneva, we have to ride the train for over an hour and then take a bus to the embassy. To make me even more cranky, the appointments are only available during Niamh's nap time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Some of you have already heard this news or read about it on other blogs, but I thought I should share with everyone.

We are thinking of adopting 1 or 2 children in the not too distant future and one of the first steps is to have a social worker come visit to see if we are fit to adopt. It seems like a strange concept because I would think everyone would be on their best behavior during the visit. Anyway, living in Switzerland makes things a bit difficult. A US qualified social worker came from Germany on a Saturday and left Sunday morning. She asked for copies of a bunch of documents and asked a few questions. It seems like the entire thing could have been done in a couple of hours and that she didn't really need to stay overnight. In fact, she mentioned that she has done multiple home studies on one day in the past.

She did make a comment along the lines of Rowan and I being a bit too interested in trains and that she knows that lots of people enjoy watching model trains go in circles, but she thinks it is weird.

We are working on getting all of the paperwork in order and have to go to Geneva on Thursday to get fingerprinted. I had to go to Geneva last week to get the forms (expect another blog entry) and now we have to go to the Geneva police station to get the actual finger prints.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Swiss HOG Weekend

This weekend is the fourth annual Swiss HOG (Harley Owners Group) weekend. The gathering has the street along the lake blocked and traffic is horrible. It doesn't seem like one street would be a big deal, but there are only 4streets that go east\west, so it does really mess things up. Rowan enjoyed walking by all of the motorcycles. He kept trying to count them, but he can only count to about 12 before starting over.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Web site

I know it has been a while, but the web site( now has about a dozen new photos. Emily mentioned that she has lots of photos on her laptop that I don't have on mine, so I'll try to move them to my PC this weekend and then post a few.