Everyone and their mums are up-cycling these days and I love it! I made a promise to myself that if I need a new piece of furniture I will put serious effort into finding something second hand before buying anything new. I hate this disposable world we’re living in and would rather spend a little more on a nice, solid piece of old furniture which I can paint or upholster than buy something cheap that I will have to replace in a couple of years.
Woah that got serious there! Anyway, so I have been painting all of my bedroom furniture recently (cos I change my mind more than I change my knickers – thats a lot by the way, I’m not a dirty girl) and I’ve been using chalk paint from Autentico as recommended by decorator extraordinaire aka my mother who has the cutest shop ever ‘La Maison de la Lavande’ in Vouvant, France. So mother egg has given me a wealth of knowledge and tips and I’m going to share these nuggets of wisdom with you lucky people!
Chalk paint is a really great paint to use for old furniture, it covers a multitude of sins, but there are some tips you need to keep in mind:
It adheres to just about anything, the first coat might be sacrificial but the second coat will adhere to the first and look really good!
Do long, straight strokes in the same direction; some people put paint on one way and then the other, if you do that then you are just taking the paint off again.
Mix the paint well: before opening turn the tin upside down for 10 mins so that the water, chalk and colourant are well mixed.
Decant into a smaller vessel rather than from dipping your brush constantly into the tin, having the tin open to the air thickens the paint – but you can always add more water.
Keep some water beside you while you paint to moisten your brush with.
Use a different colour as the first layer and then age the second layer, it creates a really cool effect when a different colour peeks through!
Finish off with a wax to protect your painted furniture.
Spray Chalk Paint
I have only recently seen spray chalk paint on the market so I don’t have a lot of experience with it. I used it to coat some pine cones and i liked the coverage, however I noticed that as it was quite cold in the room I was spraying, it didn’t dry very evenly. Also, if you spray too much in one area it can get a bit drippy and blotchy, but practice makes perfect!!
I hope these tips helped and I can’t wait to see how you up-cycle with chalk paint! Thanks for reading, Yasmin x
Oh hiiii. Do you remember when I was super proud of my Autumn Decor?! Well the time has come, the walrus said, to transition to winter!! Whaaaat?! YES IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS. Well not quite, but I wanted to transition my hallway decor to a more wintery vibe without having to mug everything off. So this is what it looked like before:
Add a few frosty changes andddd…..
I know, I’m a friggin’ genius! I didn’t even have to change a lot – so what did I do?!
I switched out the red enamel pot of pinecones with a frosty blue pot of sprayed pinecones.
I painted some sticks that I found (on the floor, please don’t attack any trees!) and wrapped the leafy fairy lights around them.
Thanks to the chalkboard paint I was able to re-do the board and the bottle which added a big change. Andddd… I PAINTED MY PUMPKINS. Aren’t you completely in love with my black, glittery pumpkin? what a cute little guy!
See how easy that was?! It literally took me a couple of hours (waiting for paint to dry like) and I completely transformed my decor! What are you guys doing for Winter decor?
I am SO excited to start this new mini-series! So I was recently made redundant (hire me please?) and it was around the time where all the autumn and christmas decorations were coming out and I knew that I needed to keep back some franc-age for when the going gets tough so everytime I saw something I wanted, I decided I would make it!
Today is part 1 and it is all about these beaut glitter candles that I saw in Depot for 8.95chf
Now please don’t get me wrong, Depot is my mecca and I love it dearly (and I hope it loves me too after this!) but that is super steep no matter how sparkly that damn candle is! So I got to work!
Okay so all my purchases together cost 9.40chf but as I got 4 candles and the glue and glitter go a long way, at the most it costs 2.35chf per candle!
Lets start! So I learnt (the hard way) that if you can one of these shiny finished candles rather than a rough, rustic candle – you’re gunna need to sand that badboy down.
Just give it a quick squizz over with some sand paper or a nail file so you get a lovely rough texture. whack the glue on and get glittering! The result was such a satisfyingly beautiful and frosty candle! Perfect for cosy nights in!
I also experimented a little with tea lights as its something we all have knocking about the house and the result was equally good! You just need to be speedy with the glittering after glue-ing!
That was so much fun! Thank you for reading and see you next time! Yasmin x
Decorating your home for Autumn is not something that is commonly done back in the UK, but I’ve really fallen in love with it from my experiences in Canada and living in Switzerland.
I decided that this year I would put a but more effort into my seasonal decor as I’ve been a bit (very) lazy with this kind of thing. I also found that it was not only exciting to plan, shop and craft for this project but it was also very relaxing and therapeutic, especially with the crappy news I received last week (more on that to come).
ANYWAY! We live in a super old building which has this kind of creepy hallway that I don’t really bother to do anything with, and I thought one day how nice it would be to have a little autumn themed decor to greet me when I come home. (see below, super creepy – and that carpet!!)
I began by visiting the cutest pumpkin stall in Tuggen. One of the things I love about Switzerland is that the culture still adheres to the ‘honesty’ rule, whether its the shops leaving their stock out over night, people leaving their cars unlocked and/or still running whilst they run into the shops or these pumpkin stands that have the prices and a small pot to put the money. It warms my heart in this current climate that there is some hope for humanity!
I chose three super cute little pumpkins. I loved the contrast with the colours – I’m not big into the spooky and dark autumn style decoration, I prefer to keep my decor a bit lighter. I did a bit of research about preserving pumpkins as Halloween pumpkins only last a couple of days and I found that if you clean with a bleachy or anti-bacterial solution to remove any bugs or disease then they can last up to 10 weeks!
I decided to use this old stool from IKEA for the display. I know that black would also be perfect for autumn/halloween decor but I went through a MASSIVE black furniture phase and I am so over it, I need a bit of light in my life girl! I painted the stool with Autentico chalk paint in ‘Snow White’. I love the chalk paint from Autentico, it goes on almost any surface and has such good coverage and lovely matt finish.
I finished it off with the clear wax. The wax helps protect the furniture and deepens the colour. I wanted to protect the stool a little in case the pumpkins left any kind of residue or stain.
OK OK I ADDED SOME BLACK! I used this amazing chalkboard paint from Pinty Plus on an old piece of wood and a large wine bottle. I bought the paint from www.bastelartikel.ch but I have also seen it in ‘Migros Do It’ so its widely available across Switzerland.
Using a chalkboard pen that I also bought from www.bastelartikel.ch I drew on the wooden board and bottle to add a cutesy, personalised effect.
And then I put it all together. I added some fake ivy and foliage fairy lights that I bought from Ginger Ray for our wedding in September (a blog post on that coming soon!) A vintage enamel pot with some foraged pinecones, a small candle and a little chalkboard painted jar with gold glitter tipped feathers (found on wish!)
The little display greets me when I get home from the office or dog walk and really changes the feeling in the formerly creepy hallway, I can’t wait to start planning my display for Winter!
How have you decorated for Autumn? Let me know in the comments below!
So it is no secret that I am a MASSIVE francophile, I love everything about France: the culture, the food, the wine, the language, the style – EVERYTHING! And, living in the German part of Switzerland (if someone wants to give me a job in the French part, email me ASAP!) I often have to find other ways to satisfy my French cravings such as listening to French music, baking a camembert, opening a bottle of Bordeaux or watching a feel good film set in the beautiful country.
Below I have compiled my personal favourite light-hearted, English language (mostly) films set in France that are GUARANTEED to get you researching flights for your next holiday!
Midnight in Paris
Not only does this film have an incredible cast but it is beautifully filmed, showing Paris in a way you will have never seen it before, The charismatic and witty storyline follows Gil (Owen Wilson) on his trip to Paris with his materialistic Fiancée (Rachel Mcadams) and overbearing parents. Disillusioned with his situation he is transformed back to the 1920s every evening where he meets the artists, writers and influencers that dominated Paris in that time – who wouldn’t want to drink with Hemingway or get into a strange car with Scott Fitzgerald? I actually watch this film at least once every two weeks as it is such a ‘feel good’ movie – with the beautiful Léa Seydoux making a small but perfectly created appearance.
A Good Year
This film will have you craving a later summer break in the South of France. It revolves around the character Max (Russell Crowe) (not my favourite actor but he plays the part very well) as a hotshot London stock trader who inherits his Uncles Chateaux in Provence. Commence the comedy surrounding the stuffy city dweller in the beautiful French countryside and the even more beautiful Marion Cotillard who plays the aptly named Fanny Chenal! Enjoy with a glass of red wine, some cheese and a loved one!
This is a film I watched a lot when I was a young girl – when my mum was dreaming of moving to France (update she’s been there for 15 years now!) and would watch this religiously to satisfy her yearning for France! Set in the late 50s it follows the story of Vianne and her daughter as they move to a small village and open a Chocolaterie during lent. Slowly the village comes around to the newcomer and we can all bask in the rural French-ness of it all (and Johnny Depp being ridiculously charming).
Julie & Julia
I only recently watched this film but I was so glad I did, half set in New York and half in Paris it follows the stories of a writer recreating the famous recipes of Julia Childs and the life of Julia Childs creating those recipes Paris during the 50s. I think its Julias lust for France and the cuisine that makes this film so appealing to me, its cute and heartwarming and will have you reaching for your Le Creuset to cook up some Boeuf Bourguignon!
Okay, so this isn’t an English language film but I love it so much I had to put it in the list! The film, also known as “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” is an alternative rom-com set in the city of Paris in the mid 90s. It is a wonderful tale of how Amélie learns that each event -small or large- can have a big effect on the lives of those around her, and how she starts to interfere in them! Starring the quintessentially French, Audrey Tatou, it will quickly become one of your favourite films! The cafe that Amélie works in, Cafe des Deux Moulins is a real place! Check it out next time you’re in Paris – their Steak-frites is delicious!
These are my personal favourites, of course there are more but these are the ones that really lift my mood and make me feel good! If you have any recommendations please comment below 🙂
Thank you for reading! Yasmin x
If you want to explore some more French films and don’t mind subtitles check out:
La Haine: A gritty docu-style movie surrounding the riots in Paris starring Vincent Cassel – thought provoking and sad. This film actually inspired the tattoo I have on my ribs – watch it and guess which quote I have!
La Belle Personne: A teen drama full of heartache, sex and confused emotions, starring the amazing Leader Seydoux (yes I love her)
Haute Tension: A horror film set around one night of terror – I do not want to give too much away but it was a game-changer in my younger, horror-loving years (now I am too old for scary films!)
Blue is the Warmest Colour: I didn’t really like this film too much as it really centred around a long sex scene and interviews with the leading actors (Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos) implied that they were forced into acting scenes that made them uncomfortable. HOWEVER, it is a nicely filmed glimpse into the life of a confused teenager and the difficulties that stigmas can have on a young persons life.
I had to take a small break from the blog for reasons that I will come to in a minute. I didn’t actually realise how long it had been however until i was having dinner with a friend a couple of weeks ago and we were talking about a school we used to work at together and how she’d bumped into a parent who asked about me, she said that she checked my blog for updates but i hadn’t posted anything recently. I thought, well it hasn’t been THAT long! BUT. IT. HAS. Time has flown like crazy and I have seriously neglected this blog, something that I’m really disappointed in myself for. So who do I think I am and where have I been?
I changed jobs.
Oh boo hoo I know, I finally got a job in my industry and started working 100% rather than part time. Perhaps I was out of practice but I’m almost two years in now and I. AM. EXHAUSTED. Also, sitting in an office all day makes me not want to stare at a computer screen in my spare time, and the added sitting down has been playing havoc with my back sooo….
2. I started my Master’s degree
I’m studying MA Graphic Design at the University of Hertfordshire, my course is part time as I am working so I will graduate in the summer of 2019. I underestimated how much work it would be and how many sacrifices I would have to make on the weekends and in the evenings. I am really a big advocate for further education and just general learning and empowerment but had I realised how much additional stress it would bring I may have perhaps reconsidered or adjusted my working contract.
3. I’m planning my wedding!
Guys, if that isn’t excuse enough I don’t know what is! As a ridiculous control freak I am doing everything myself, including crafting and printing individually named invitations and doing my own flowers – maybe I am insane? It’s a lot of fun, but the pressure for me is to make sure that everything is meticulously timed and planned so our guests have the best time! Our wedding is in September and will be in Italy (and yes, I will write a post about everything we did, our budget and photos of the day!
4. I became a mummy!
To a beautiful little guy named Frankie. Yes he’s a dog but that does not make it any less of a life changing experience! He is a dachshund and almost 3 years old, we went to visit my parents in France for the Easter weekend and made a seriously quick decision to re-home this little guy. He is the most loving and sweetest boy in the world and we cannot imagine life without him now! However, what comes with that is great responsibility and I am still adapting to mum life, having to worry about popping out to the shop or going away for a weekend. Of course he has his own Instagram account – follow him! @asausageinswitzerland
So there we go, my excuses! And my promise to upload and write about all of the trips we have taken since I scandalously stopped blogging such as our trip to Croatia and Slovakia, our winter road trip around Denmark, Norway and Sweden and our favourite road trip around Latvia!
Its no joke that Switzerland is one of the priciest places to visit but after living here for a couple of years I’ve learnt how to live life on the thrifty side! If the land of cheese is on your list of places you must visit but you’re not a private banker or hotel heiress, then follow these simple steps to make the most out of your trip without blowing your overdraft!
For some people, a nice hotel is at the top of the list for their travels, I’ll admit that I do enjoy to come back to a nice hotel room after a day of sightseeing.
To search for a hotel room I always use Booking.com, in my experience, I’ve had the most success on this website finding great hotels for the best prices. Alternatively you could try Airbnb, I’ve looked on here before and have seen some great places but haven’t booked through Airbnb yet. If you’re looking for a shared room and the opportunity to make some new friends, check out hostelworld.com
The summers in Switzerland are amazing. Something I didn’t actually expect (I stupidly assumed the weather would be fresh and cool all year round!) It can be blisteringly hot in the summer and a campsite in the mountains or by a lake to jump in is the perfect option! You can book good quality campsites through TCS and on the ‘my switzerland’ homepage! One of the best ways to see Switzerland is to travel around the country, seeing its impressive mountains and beautiful lakes. Pack a tent and take a tour!
2. Getting Around
If you’re already strapping that tent to your back and heading over you’re going to need to know how to get around! Everything that you’ve heard about public transport in Switzerland is true, its extremely efficient, incredibly clean and worth every penny.
The Swiss public transport network is called SBB, (their website is conveniently available in English!) They offer great prices for travel cards valid around the whole of Switzerland which also gives you discount and free admission on a variety of mountain railways and museums. Visit this page for more information on their travel passes!
Another alternative, which gives you a lot more freedom is to rent a car. Renting a car isn’t cheap in Switzerland but it does allow you to see a lot more on your own time plan! You can rent cars from Europcar, Sixt, Easycar and Avis. One thing to remember is that some companies don’t allow you to rent a car in Switzerland take it into a neighbouring country such as France, Germany, Austria or Italy. One tip I suggest following is that if you are flying into Basel Mulhouse or Geneva, you could go over to the German or French side and rent a car there, this would actually work out cheaper and you’ll be allowed to drive it over borders!
Switzerland has some of the most amazing food on offer! But it can be very expensive to eat out, even simple meals such as Schnitzel and Pomme frites, (Or even Mcdonalds!) can cost around 20chf, times that by three meals a day and you’ve blown your budget!
Schnitzel and Pommes is probably my favourite thing to eat in Switzerland, especially when you’re perched at the top of a mountain in a restaurant with a panoramic view! Budget to do this AT LEAST once! Now.. theres a reason why Switzerland has a cheesy reputation, their cheese range is so good that sometimes I just want to fall into a cheese induced coma! When you’re planning a day hiking in the mountains or sitting by a lake, pop into Migros, Coop, Lidl or Aldi and buy a tasty Butterzopf or seeded loaf, some salami or cured ham and a packet of Gruyere, Emmental, Alpkäse or Appenzeller! (Good luck choosing just one!) Here is some vocabulary that might help you on your picnic provisions purchasing! Cheese is Käse, Bread is Brot, Ham is Schinken! Looking for a beverage to accompany your picnic? Try the popular Swiss beverage ‘Rivella‘!
Looking for a late night picnic? Spruce it up a little with some breadsticks, gherkins, fresh tomatoes and, of course, some red wine! My current favourite red wine to buy in Switzerland is in Aldi and Lidl, I have no idea what its called but I know that its 2.79chf and thats good enough for me!
Other food that you HAVE to try are: Raclette which is boiled potatoes which delicious melted cheese poured over them, Fondue a big melting pot of cheese that you can dip bread and potatoes into, its great for sharing! Rösti which is kind of like a massive hashbrown, Butterzopf which is the big loaves of braided bread Alplermagronen which is macaroni traditionally teamed with potatoes, cheese, onions and cream Nussgipfel which is a pastry filled with a sweet, nutty filling and usually topped with a little icing.
One of the perks of living in Switzerland (while you’re an English person that enjoys to drink!) is that you can drink pretty much anywhere! Theres nothing better than buying some cold beers and heading down to the lake or hiking up a mountain and cracking open a bottle of wine. It’s also a great way to save money as bars in Switzerland are super pricey!
Just be careful not to go too overboard because nobody wants a night in the Swiss cells for being drunk and disorderly! The most popular beer in Switzerland is probably Feldschlossen, and you can buy a cold can or bottle in almost every supermarket, corner shop and kiosk! Just remember that the supermarket Migros does not sell alcohol at all, but they are usually located near a Denner which is like a discount supermarket and has great deals!
5. Things to do
There is so much to see and do in Switzerland! You can hike up mountains and roam around with the cows, you can ski or snowboard and frolic in the snow, you can swim in the crystal clear lakes, sail, kayak and SUP, you can wander through the old towns of Geneva, Bern and Zurich and shop in the boutiques and designer stores, traipse around museums and galleries or you can simply check in to one of the famous ‘wellness’ hotels and enjoy a holiday of pampering!
Ski lifts can be a little pricey, no matter what the season! But if you are visiting in Summer there is so many more options than to take a return trip! You can hike up and take the lift down or you can take the lift up and take one of these ‘trottinettes’ down, they go super fast and have big, grippy wheels which make them perfect for zipping down the rocky mountain paths!
Or you can spend the days sat by a lake with a tasty Swiss picnic, watching the world go by! Have I convinced you to visit yet?! Let me know in the comments!
We’ve been visiting the Piedmont region a lot recently and I think its pretty great so I’m going to give you loads of reasons to go visit it!
Reason #1 – Wine. I love wine. Winey wine wine. Here it goes down, down into my belly. I have never been a connoisseur of wines, I’ve always been more of a pint of Heineken kinda gal but within a year I’ve learnt so much about Italian wines. I’ve even discovered my favourite wine, how friggin’ grown up is that?! The Piedmonte region has so many different types of grapes, the grapes in my mums vineyard are of the Dolcetto variety and I CAN NOT wait for her wine to be ready to try! My absolute favourite wine is a Dolcetto Dogliani, called ‘Papa Celso’ and it comes from the Marziano Abbona vineyard which produces the most amazing range of wines I have ever tried! We had many bottles of their ‘Metodo Classico Brut’ over the festive period and I’m addicted! The company has been run by the family for like 60 years. Contact them via their website to arrange a tasting! Another vineyard that we visited for a tasting which offered a really amazing experience was the Poderi Einaudi vineyard. I wrote about them in my post ‘Why wine tasting isn’t scary’. This tour is a lot more in depth and you learn a lot about the actual making of the wine! Contact them by phone or email to arrange a tour!
The Piedmonte region is so famous for wine that there is special wine coach tours that take you around the entire region. I know this because every time I’m in Barolo, a massive coach tips up and a hundred Swiss and Germans hop off!
Reason #2 – Shopping. everyone knows that the Italians are stylish bastards; I feel that I will never achieve the effortless, ‘just rolled out of a boutique’ look no matter how casual I try to make my facial expressions. Every town has a great selection of chain stores and independent clothing shops, and its impossible not to spend a lot. My favourite shop is ‘Primadonna’ which sells amazing shoes and handbags at killer prices! There is a primadonna located in the city of Alba, a really beautiful old town with the best range of shops you could ever imagine. Spend a morning there shopping and then head to one of the bars and restaurants in the square to recharge after all that spending! Mondovi also has an equally stunning old town and enticing shop selection, however, If shopping is your game and you’re not too bothered about the scenery, head over to the shopping centre and designer outlet in Mondovicino where you can pick up some bargains and work on your italian fashion sense! The markets are also a great way to spend a morning. Every tuesday, wander around the market in Dogliani where you can pick up freshly made pasta (the gnocchi is amazeballs), quirky fashion and must-have kitchen equipment for italian cooking! Theres something about perusing stalls selling packs of Fila socks for 1 euro that I find fascinating.
Reason #3 – Bars & Restaurant – So more wine.. (I don’t have a drinking problem I swear!) What is better to pair with your amazing italian wine than some amazing italian food?! But for good food you generally have to pay a good price. For a special meal, head over to the Barolando restaurant in the main street of Barolo, or for a cosy evening meal pop over to ‘La Farinel’ in Dogliani for some traditional ‘Piemontese’ cooking and homemade Limoncello by a lovely couple (who also speak perfect English!) If you don’t want to go out for a mea or if you’re on a budget, head to the Caffee Della Riveria or the Civico Uno wine bar in Dogliani where tasty treats like antipasti, pizza and bruschetta are brought out with your drinks. The longer you’re there and the more drinks you order the sooner the pizzas come out – its a good way to judge when you’ve been out too long and should go home! The 400 trading post in Dogliani is hidden away amongst the back streets and offers the most delightful glass of prosecco!
Reason #4 -Proximity to the Coast – Going from living a metres walk from the sea to living in a landlocked country was a little bit of a culture shock to me. The lakes in Switzerland are of course incredible but theres something about the sand and staring out to the horizon that is a little hard to beat. From Dogliani to Savonna, it takes about 1 hour 15 minutes which isn’t a bad shout if you want to dip your trotters in the Ligurian Sea. the town is full of restaurants, shops, hotels and camping. The coastline here is very ‘covey’ and although you may not be able to swing your cat, you will find a spot to lay out a towel! Take the coastal road down to ’Noli’ for a more local experience or continue down the coastline to Monte Carlo for spectacular sights and designer shopping.
Reason #5 -Historic Villages – Piedmonte is abundant (yes, abundant!) with historic, hilltop towns and vineyards. Drive up to Monfort D’alba, abandon your car and wander through the paved streets, looking for a nook to have an early evening apero. The key to finding these hidden gems is taking time to drive through the winding roads through the vineyards, stopping for photographs and to explore the villages. Climb the hill up to the old town of Dogliani and look down over the terracotta roofs and the impressive architecture of the cathedral. Or stroll through the streets of Barolo down to the castle and gaze over vineyards at impressive churches.
I turned 26 last weekend and although I know that I’m still (relatively) young, I did stop and think about the stage I’m at in my life and if its where I thought I’d be.
I spent my birthday in Italy with my family, we had some really good food, a lot of good wine and definitely a lot of laughs. The only downfall was on the Sunday, my actual birthday when we all got sick from a virus that I must have caught at work. In between running to the toilet I thought I’d wander outside to catch some Vitamin D and try to feel a little less dead than I already did, in doing that I stood on a bee which went kamikaze into the sole of my foot and made me forget about the ominous gurgling in my stomach.
Switzerland was never a country that I thought about, had a desire to live in or even visit really. It just didn’t tickle my fancy. In 2013 I was nearing the end of my third year working as a Graphic Designer for a footwear company. I loved the job, I had a lot of responsibility and pretty much free run with the projects I was working on. However, the salary was abysmal, my boss was a knob and I worked such long hours that I had stopped seeing people outside of work. I started drinking a lot as a stress relief from my job and perpetual loneliness and decided I would just quit it all and move to France. I realise now that this probably isn’t the motivational story you were looking for to encourage to move somewhere else, and I don’t normally like to talk about negative things on here but I would like to give a realistic account of my expatriate experience, not the idyllic, instagram filtered version that bloggers like to spew out and release ebooks of. I will give you some semi helpful information about living in Switzerland though so don’t trot off just yet!
So anyway.. I handed my notice in, packed up my life and moved in with my Aunt for my last 3 weeks in the UK. During these 3 weeks I stumbled back into contact with a friend from school, we actually had a small romance when we were 15 and I was too scared to pursue the relationship because I’d just moved from an all girls school and didn’t really know what boys were – but thats a story for another time!
So we started seeing each other and Tim had already accepted a job offer in Switzerland and was leaving a week before I was. We long distanced for a bit and after the second weekend I’d driven the 9 hours from L’absie to Wünnewil I decided to pack it all in and move again! The first year we spend in Switzerland we just had fun, we didn’t try to learn any German or French or make a plan for the following year, we just travelled around Europe, worked hard and then booked a massive 3 month trip for the winter. Before we left for Russia we signed a contract on an apartment in the most beautiful (in my humble opinion) place I’ve ever been in Switzerland: Schwarzsee in Canton Fribourg.
When we got back from travelling I had a positive and unrealistic idea of how easy it would be to get a job. Tim had signed a contract for another year at the Golf Course, he’s a qualified Greenkeeper which is a rarity in Switzerland. They didn’t want me back.. it might be because I crashed a lot of the golf buggys.
So began my summer of discontent! I spoke basic French and was living in a town which was one hour away from the nearest big town. Jobs were not abundant and I quickly felt very depressed and useless. I took a French course at the Migros Klubschule and started writing craft and home decor DIYs on my blog to build up my confidence. I sent unsolicited resumes (beautifully designed and presented might I add!) to every single Graphic Design and Advertising Agency in the Cantons of Fribourg and Bern. Out of about 150 resumes I had one reply and we arranged to meet in Fribourg. This man was the most arrogant and rude Swiss-Frenchman I had ever had t the displeasure in meeting. He described himself as the creator of the street art scene in Switzerland and made me feel so small that I lost about 5 litres of water through sweating in our rather short 30 minute meeting. Needless to say, I was not offered a job from the Godfather of Graffiti! Luckily enough I was later offered a ‘one day a week’ (20%) position at the ski shop opposite my house, I was designing their advertising and massive posters which was actually good fun, despite having to work in German, a language which I had never once uttered a word of. Tims job was only seasonal at the time as the golf course was closed during the winter so we started to worry about what we would do, as he had been supporting me, we were pretty broke and sought to look for a winter position. Through sheer luck we were both offered jobs in a ski shop in Gstaad. To those of you who are not familar with the wonder that is Gstaad let me offer you a brief description. It is an incredibly beautiful and incredibly expensive ski resort where, every winter, a flock of rich, reasonably famous, slightly crazy people arrive. I was working in a five star resort in the centre of Gstaad and it was possibly the weirdest 3 months of my life. I was yelled at for no reason, tipped for no reason, I had to pick out ski outfits for a Saudi Prince and I also had a very nice conversation with Mark Ronson. Unfortunately for the shop, but luckily for us that season had absolutely no snow whatsoever, business was slow and we were released from our job early.
Tim accepted a job offer in Bad Ragaz, on the other side of Switzerland, I was pretty excited – new place, new opportunities. It just meant that I would have to learn German instead of continuing with French. No big deal… I thought. Tim started his job in March and my life went back to the way it was in Schwarzsee apart from I was living in an apartment or “granny flat” if you like, which was attached to the house of our landlord. Who was absolutely bat shit crazy. He would play the violin at insane hours of the day, which, despite practicing constantly, really wasn’t good! He would force us into accepting his kind gestures of borrowing a table, using his ‘sitzplatz’, coming around for dinner etc which doesn’t sound so bad but when you’re British and faced with a man that speaks no English is an absolutely toe curling experience.
I got pretty down again, there were no job prospects for me and my German skills were not of a standard where I could work with them. I started looking for an escape and would lose myself in films and books about Paris, I started to think that I had made a massive mistake leaving France after only 3 weeks living there but I couldn’t be without Tim and I really needed to get a job and make this work, not just for me and my own sanity for him and for everything that he’s given me, done for me, tears that he’s dried when I’ve felt completely useless and laughter he’s caused when I really needed it. I cracked on with learning German, I had to be strict with myself and make sure I followed a learning timetable and then actually went out and tried to use what I had taught myself.
For some reason, which I wish had occured to me when we were living in Schwarzsee, I decided to do a TEFL course. Knowing that TEFL isn’t recognised in Switzerland but as my budget couldn’t stretch to CELTA I thought I’d just give it a razz and see what happened. Nothing happened. Until a couple of months later when I spotted a job at a daycare with vague requirements and lo and behold I got the job! I’m still working there now, 9 months later. It is by no means my dream job, it makes me cry on a regular basis but I’m earning money, we no longer have any stress and I even bought myself a new car! Its taken 3 years for me to get to a point that I never in my life ever thought I would be at, I never thought I would work with children and I never thought I’d be speaking German but sometimes you just have to go through the tunnel of shit to come out the other side for something good.
If you learn anything from my cautionary tale, please let it be that never move to a country expecting to get a job in your own native language and not that of your new homes, because that rarely happens. Always research the areas you move to, make sure that there are job prospects in your industry and if not, restudy otherwise you will spend a lot of time unemployed, miserable and addicted to xbox (maybe that last one was just me!)