Back in Switzerland

So we’re back in Switzerland. the last few weeks have been rather busy and I haven’t taken the time to update this website. It’s been way too long so here we go some information about what’s been going on for us recently. (Note that you can also check out this story to read about our last few weeks in the Bay Area.)

The first two things we acquired were cellphones and 1/2-price train passes. These were the basics that would allow us to move around and be in touch again with the world – or at least Switzerland. Pretty soon after came our health insurance contracts.

I think I’ve never driven so many different cars in so little time. We were able to keep our Acura in Santa Clara until a couple days before taking off (car 1). We then rented a car with AVIS to bring us to the airport. the first car we picked up (car 2) had no breaks so I turned it in. Next one was fine (car 3) and did the job of bringing us to SFO. Once back in Switzerland, we met with our families at the airport. My father had something planned for the evening but left us his car so we could drive home (car 4). A few days later, I’m stuck on a train that won’t go any further because of an accident – and I need to be in Geneva a few hours later. A friend lends me an Opel Corsa (car 5) for a few days. Vanessa’s parents then leave on vacation and lend us their Opel Corsa (car 6) for a couple weeks.

The good news is we found a car of our own (car 7) pretty quickly. we settled for a second-hand 2000 5-door Audi A3 1.9 TDI (110 hp). Not as exciting an engine as its successor, which delivers 130 hp. However, it delivers great torque, typical with diesel engines. The injection-control chip can also be upgraded for an additional 20+% in torque and hp… Fuel consumptions maxes out at 5.9 l/100km, and the car remains extremely stable and quiet at 160+ km/h. I love it. I’m even getting used to the fact it sounds like a truck ;) Of course it’s nowhere near as powerful as a friend’s Audi S3 (210hp) that I was able to try a few weeks ago. I’m tempted to say it’s powerful enough, though.

On the job front, things are moving extremely slowly. The market is probably not quite as tight as in the US right now, but companies are still pretty picky and are certanly not rushing the hiring process. The events in Zoug and the Gothard, plus the fall of Swissair, the Davos World Economic Forum leaving Switzerland and consumer confidence levels down in the basement are certainly not helping. And that’s without even mentioning the Anthrax scare around the world, the war in Afghanistan and the New York terrorist attack. Gee, what a nice year 2001 has been so far…

Three companies contacted me so far for interviews, and I’ve also met with several recruiters. All in all I’ve got my resume in about a dozen places right now. I still have to give some serious thought to where I want my career to go from here, however. The strong bias I’ve had towards the IT and high-tech industries is not transferable to that many places in Swtzerland. I’m not really part of the IT family since my background is in business. I’m also not really part of the typical business family since all of my experience has been in different subject matters (manufacturing & IT projects). I’m still convinced there is an opportunity for me here to pick a direction, but I’m still being forced to do it at a moment when I’d rather be some other place. West, that is…

Dealing with recruiters is a rather interesting experience. There are a lot of them on the market and it is quite difficult – if not impossible – to get a good feel for their style without actually meeting with them. It reminds me of the market for doctors. You need a good one to help you out but there’s no way anybody is going to provide you with transparent information, comparison charts anything else that could help you make an informed decision. Note that I’m still rather satisfied with most professionals I’ve met so far but I’ll certainly proceed slightly differently next time around.

The good thing about being temporarilly unemployed is that I have time for different things, such as taking intensive german classes… This should serve as a good refresher for my distant memories of Goethe’s language.

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