The Annals of Michadom, Part II

This version of The Annals of Michadom is freely distributable provided that the copyright notice remains intact. All material in the Annals, unless otherwise stipulated, is copyrighted (1995) to Michelle A. Hoyle & Chaos Exterminators, Inc.

In which:
We learn about Zuerich, mountains, work permits, and so much more...

December 4th, 1995
You may notice that you do not receive sequentially numbered annals all of the time. The truth is that there are two mail lists: one with material which can be freely distributed with its copyright notice and another more private one, which is intended for the recipient only. Each annal is clearly identified at the top whether it is distributable or not.

Zuerich & Transporation

Zuerich in the fall is quite beautiful. The weather this year has been very mild, so I have been able to wander around without the benefit of my bulky Canadian winterwear for most of the time. Surprising to me is the proliferic amount of maple trees. Maple leaves bedeck the ground almost everywhere I walk in the city, much more so than in any other western Canadian city where I've lived. In a way it's quite comforting, as it reminds me of home. Not having been exposed to many maple trees before, I can't believe how large the leaves are! The people here, oddly enough, have all heard about the famous Canadian maple syrup. I'd almost believe there are enough maple trees here for a cottage maple syrup industry if anyone is looking for a business opportunity in Switzerland.

Much like Vancouver, it seems that much of anywhere you want to go is uphill, especially if you're riding a bicycle or walking. Luckily for us mobility steadfast people, the transporation system here, if one does not own a car, is impressive and clean-running. The Swiss, of course, have a reputation, perhaps undeserved, for cleanliness in general, but all of their transporation systems -- buses, trains, and trams -- all use electrical power, generated by hydroelectric dams and so forth. In fact, in the recent James Bond film, the scene where someone bungee jumps off a damn is filmed in Switzerland. The trams run from 5am until just after midnight and go almost anywhere you'd care to in the metropolitan Zuerich area and they arrive at most points every 7 minutes. As well, most stops, which are situated every 200m or so along the routes, are serviced by more than one tram line, so it's possible to get to any point by a variety of routes. The buses, which have their own routes, also seem quite efficient.

I had the opportunity recently to drive a car for a bit around the city. It was a rather hair-raising experience because nothing seems to work quite the way you expect, but it almost looks the same. For example, there are standard traffic lights with red, yellow, and green signals, *but* instead of going from green to yellow to red, it changes to yellow before going to green. Also, it's not green for all cars in the same direction simultaneously; there seems to be much more liberal use of left and right turn arrows. As in Canada, pedestrians have the right of way and so do trams! The trams run in the middle of many major streets and, in areas where the road is too small to permit two lanes of traffic and two tram tracks, one lane of traffic has to share the tram line! Parking for cars seems to be a problem, too, with many cars being legally parked halfway up onto the sidewalk, to conserve precious road space, of course.

Milk Products

While the variety of milk-based products one can buy here is phenomenal, I've had a craving for a purely North American concoction. You'll never believe it, but I am indeed referring to Kraft's immortal macaroni and cheese. There is *no* macaroni and cheese substitute here. In a desperate attempt to assuage my feminine longings for this miraculous substance, I resorted to attempting to make it myself. Searching, however, high and low in the Migros, the local equivalent of the SuperStore, proved to be fruitless, for I could not locate the most important ingredient of all -- cheddar cheese. Yes, it's true. Switzerland, the land of *choco* and cheese does not have cheddar cheese. I was thus forced to try substituting Appenzeller and Emmenthal cheese. Personally, I recommend the Appenzeller cheese; it melts better, sort of like Velveeta.

Amazing Illegal Eingangs

The Swiss love their bureaucracy and hold it as dear to their hearts as they do their lederhosen. Never has this been more apparent than in my fumbling attempts to "correctly" enter the country. Now, for most of us, entering a country is a simple affair, right? You hop on a plane, you deplane at your destination, you hand your passport to the friendly customs/immigration folk and they say, "Welcome to blah, blah, blah. Have a nice time." Simple, right? WRONG! What happens instead is that you naively follow the instructions you're given: Fill out these forms, send them back to the University, have a nice flight. So you fill out the forms, send them back to the university well in advance of your departure, and then have a nice flight.

When you arrive and innocently enter the country following the above tried and true formula, you experience no problems. The nice customs/immigration official blithely wishes you a pleasant day after seeing you're Canadian and you think you're on your way to starting your brand new Swiss life. Lo and behold, however, what an unpleasant surprise awaits you when you arrive at the university. "What? I don't have a work permit yet? You didn't sent the forms to the foreign police yet, even though I gave them to you in July?!" And thus starts the beginning of rather comic cycle.

About a month *after* I arrived, I receive a letter from the foreign police telling me that I now have permission to receive a visa to enter the country and I may enter the country no earlier than November 1st, 1995. Notice any problem there for a woman who entered the country on September 27th? Notice anything strange about sending that letter to aforementioned woman in Switzerland and then telling her she can't be there yet? Of course not, because we're all extremely rational people. We also do not see anything strange about the letter being issued from the Vancouver Swiss consulate, meaning that those forms I sent from Canada to Switzerland went, upon my arrival in Switzerland, all the way back to Canada, where the Swiss in Vancouver proceeded to send a letter to me in Canada telling me to send them my passport, $38.20, and a picture so they could give me a visa. What does this all mean? It means I'm skulking around the country illegally!

Erk! The other nifty things about all these letters and stuff is that they're all in some foreign language where they never bother to use the words you know. I mean, why use "Eingang," when you can use the less common, for foreign speakers, "Eintritt" instead, right? Right! So, I don't discover until a month later that I may in fact need to leave the country, find a Swiss consulate outside the country, receive my visa, and then officially "enter" the country. I decided this sounded like too much of a pain, so with the help of the "Consultancy for Foreigners," (and yes, they need such an office!) we wrote a letter and sent it off to the nice foreign police telling them I'm just an ignorant Canadian and to just give me the visa without making me go out of the country again.

Closing Remarks

And thus concludes Part II. I guess I didn't get around to talking about mountains and I certainly haven't elaborated on the problems of getting paid, or of having healthcare without having a work permit. I save those, and other news, for another installment in the ever-continuing saga of "The Annals of Michadom."

I remain,

Michelle A. Hoyle
The Annals of Michadom, Part II. Created December 4th ,1995.