On August 11th I moved to Lausanne, in Switzerland. I would have joined a cybersecurity startup only at the beginning of September, but I wanted to move earlier to have the time to settle down with no rush. This plan didn’t work… as planned. Of course, otherwise why would I be here telling you all the lessons I learned?
Moving and decluttering are the same thing. Moving is a big chance to declutter your closet from all those ugly and old clothes that my mum is tempted to burn every time I visit her. The most prominent technique for a successful decluttering is the one suggested by Marie Kondo. You hold every item in your hands and trash it (or donate it) if it doesn’t spark joy. The problem is that those ugly and old clothes always sparked good memories. Oh look at the sweater I worn for four days in a row at home while working on a tight deadline for a paper! And here’s the shirt I was wearing when the notification of the rejection was sent out… Look at this cute and out-of-fashion dress that made me the most stylish gal a German computer science department has ever seen! How come in Italy the same dress would make me look like a total moron? See, it’s hard to let go of good emotions.
Forget dieting. Saying goodbye to your friends entails a lot of farewell cakes, farewell dinners and farewell alcoholic evenings. Say goodbye to your healthy lifestyle and welcome loads of carbs, git tonic, laughter, hugs and tears. It might surprise you, but there is an indirect correlation between the number of gin tonics you drink and the sense of desperation you’ll feel for leaving your friends. Oh, wait. Maybe that’s how non-alcoholic people become alcoholic!
If you move by train on a Sunday, then expect horrible connections. I did it. I had the clever idea to move from Darmstadt (Germany) to Lausanne (Switzerland) by train on a Sunday. It took ages (almost eight hours), I had several connections and for one of them I even had to wait more than one hour at the train station. When I had bought that trip and seen how long the trip was, I told myself that this would have been a great opportunity to write a few blog posts. I wrote nothing, as you might have guessed from my previous blog post about my unproductive summer. Instead, sad emotions cyclically would catch me, as if they hadn’t already caught me enough in the previous days (remember the gin tonics?). And every time this happened, I would hide my big tears behind the self-help book that I was reading. (It was about how to be happier with a clean and put together home.)
DHL is not that fast. Somehow I managed to go through the decluttering phase and to pack my belongings into nine boxes. I shipped them to Lausanne with the DHL. There might have been cheaper ways, but sometimes the more pricy way can be the most effective. This is what I told myself when I pulled out more than 400 Euros that morning at the post office. Well, two weeks passed and those boxes only partially arrived. The missing boxes were those with summer clothes, bed sheets and towels. Stuff that you hardly ever need of course! And the problem with the tracking service is that it is hard to predict when they are about to deliver. The boxes are in a forever-lasting “being processed in the destination country” status, which means that you are in a forever-lasting “stuck at home” status. And it’s a special “stuck at home” status where you can’t do nothing. Not going to the supermarket. Not doing all the immigration and bank account paper work. Not going to IKEA to buy furniture. Not drinking water or tea in order not to go too often to the bathroom. What if the DHL arrives while I’m sitting on the toilet? No showering because what am I going to do if they ring while I’m full of foam singing “Self control” by Lauren Branighan?
Be loaded. If you thought of Switzerland as a place to make a lot of money, hear me out on this. It may be true that Switzerland makes you rich, but this might come eventually at a later time. First, Switzerland teaches you the golden rule of capitalism: you have to spend money in order to make money. DHL, rent, three months of rent deposit, furniture, public transport pass… Living one month in Lausanne without an income is no joke. So be prepared to be poor before getting (maybe) rich!
High-tech houses are paralysing. I upgraded my home going from a three-people old and small student apartment to a two-people new and large adult apartment. Together with the apartment, the supplies upgraded as well. The kitchen stove is one of them. The first day after moving, as you know, I was stuck at home waiting for the DHL. Once I got hungry, I wanted to cook the pasta I carried with me in my luggage the day before while moving. (Yes, Italians don’t leave their house without some spare pasta in their bag). Well, I couldn’t switch on the stove because I didn’t get how that touchy ceramic console was supposed to work. I kept pushing those buttons but nothing happened! Another supply upgrade is the intercom. When, after some days of being stuck at home, the DHL guy finally arrived with (some of) my boxes, I couldn’t open the big front door of the building nor talk to him through the speaker despite pushing frantically all the buttons of the intercom multiple times. I rushed downstairs to open him the door and took the stairs because I forgot I had an elevator (third upgrade). Unfortunately, the guy had already left. I looked for him around and even down in the street. He just disappeared! Looking back, I must have seemed like a crazy person. Not only because of my frustrated face expression and the number of times I said “cazzo” out loud. But also because all this happened while I was wearing my pajamas: what if the guy rings exactly while I’m getting undressed to get… properly dressed?
It’s your turn now. When was the last time you moved? Do you move often and, if yes, does it get easier over time? Let me know in the comments below. Also, subscribe to the Breaking Thirty Newsletter for more blog posts about life lessons learned the hard way. And to really conclude point 6): the guy came back because he had more boxes (but still, not all of them) and I could catch him at the front door. Sorry for making you wait, I just wanted to keep the tension up! ;)