Friday, September 19, 2008


I realized a few weeks ago upon my first meeting with Catherine that I haven't been forthright with my reasons for moving to Switzerland. I've written a lot of posts detailing my excitement, and countdowns, but never why I was moving 4,500 miles away from my home. What a major oversight. And even though it was nearly 3 weeks ago when Catherine asked the simple question "Why?", I haven't intentionally written anything. I wanted to be good and ready, with a nice cup of tea, and peace and quiet (which doesn't happen here, two musical children, one dog, and three cats that hate each other isn't conducive to a peaceful environment).

But tonight, I am babysitting, the children are asleep, and I have a perfect cup of Earl Grey with milk and sugar. So here we go.

I came to Switzerland because, simply enough, I wanted to come. All my life, I've dreamed of living abroad. I've dreamed of becoming fluent in French. When I heard my friend Seanna was going to be an au pair in Sweden, it didn't really register that that was an option for me - I had this great boyfriend, I was planning on grad school, etc. It wasn't until she was abroad and I read her blog (an american girl in stockholm) and I realized what a great opportunity it really was. So, I emailed her, joined an au pair website, and was called crazy by many, many people. I found this family, they liked me because I'm musical, and I felt a lot of peace about the whole situation. Other families, even if they offered better pay and more time off, they all just felt... wrong. And really, I am so happy with my Swiss family. They obviously aren't perfect, but they have made me feel so welcome, comfortable, and the children are amazing. I count my blessings every day to work with such a great family. But I digress.

So why Switzerland? Well, mostly, I liked the family. But I don't think I would have considered coming here if they weren't natural French-speakers - if I was going to study a language, why not learn the one I really wanted to learn, from native French-speakers? It is Ivana & Bertrand's first language, and the children's only language; I have learned so much already by immersion. Also, Switzerland always seemed like such a fairy-tale kind of place - chocolate, cheese, mountains, lakes, neutrality... etc. Gramma Pridmore & Aunt Libby always talked about the beauty of the land, like it was otherwordly, and magical. And really, to an American girl from the midwest, it is magical. To walk down to Malko's school, and see the Alps behind the perfect little Swiss church; to sit at the castle in Nyon, and look out at the lake, and the Alps, reflecting the sun, it is magic. I told Dan I think Tolkien and Lewis must have spent a holiday here before writing LotR & The Chronicles. The beauty is epic and inspiring.

So why would I want to leave the best boyfriend in the world? Well, I really didn't want to leave him. I thought about forgetting everything while we were saying goodbye, and I was weeping in front of TSA officers in O'Hare. Quite often I wish he was here, next to me, saying the things that only Dan says, and doing Dan things. That would be nice. But you know what? We're not married, we're not engaged. Sure, we've been dating for two years, and friends for quite some time before that (I just realized this will be my first birthday in 5 years that he won't celebrate with me). But I'm still Cam, still only me. We are still two separate people, we haven't decided to become one. I need to take care of myself, and this is something I have been burning to do. You might think I'm selfish, but oh well. It's my relationship, not yours. I figured I should do it now, as time slips ever quickly through my fingers. I figured I should get it out of my system, before I settle down. After being here for several months I will let you know if I get the "abroad bug" out of my system...

Here we are at Danny & Bri's wedding a week before I left.

One last reason - I have a dream of becoming a "world citizen". Yeah, laugh it up [fuzzball], but really, it's something I think is extremely important. While I am wildly proud of being an American, I think it is so important to understand, and experience (if possible) our world. It's easy to get wrapped up in America, being the massive country that it is. Switzerland, however, is less than a third of the size of Illinois, my home state. The U.N. is only a few miles away. It's difficult to ignore other countries when they are so close in proximity. I think it's alarming how few Americans have passports. Call me an existentialist, but I really believe we are all interconnected, and we depend on each other. To quote Mathilde's favorite movie, High School Musical, "We're all in this together."

I can't believe I'm posting this on my blog. Thanks to Bashley for showing it me. I think if you asked the average American high school student to draw a map of the world, it would look a little like this (but hopefully not labeled as such):

Well, my brain stopped working. It's nearly midnight here and I need to be up early (well, not that early) because I've joined a writer's group in Geneva! Thanks to Catherine, of course. I'm really looking forward to it. We're also going to the circus tomorrow! Yea! Hopefully soon (Sunday?) I'll post some blogs of what I've actually been doing. A bientôt!


annie said...

There are lots of things that have been happening in my life since the last time we spoke, or even saw each other. The last part about you and Dan reaffirms everything in my head that I've been thinking about this last week. I'm at a place (yet again) where I could make a decision about a relationship and I think, logically, realistically, and "fantasically". I just can't decide which one is the best possible choice for me. But, I know that being in a relationship with someone does not stop the two people from being who they are, or at least it shouldn't if it is a healthy one. So, thank you.

I'm so proud of you for doing something that you've always dreamt of doing. You are one of my heroes, and I say that without being cheesy or sounding like I'm trying too hard. I look up to you and am glad that I can call you my friend.

I love you and miss you.

Julie said...

Wow, I like what Annie said, and I am all about her last paragraph-just change the word "friend" to "daughter"!! And f course, I love you and miss you too!
I have to tell you that is some world map. Especially where they make coffee, and where Santa lives. Pretty much says it all.

Swiss Miss said...

I agree--I think more Americans should live abroad. It really changes your outlook. Cool about the writer's group in Geneva. I wonder if there's one in Zurich?