This post was written by our former blog administrator, Cortney. She departed Geneva for her next post earlier this summer, but before she left, we asked if she wouldn’t mind sharing what Living in Geneva meant to her.
Welcome to Geneva!
Four years ago, my family arrived in Geneva and set about making the city our home. Earlier this summer we packed up and moved on, but I wouldn’t trade our years among the Swiss for anything. In the years we were here, I stumbled through French lessons and wandered the farmers’ markets scattered through town; took countless train trips and hiked miles and miles through the countryside; saw alpine sunrises that took my breath away and made friendships for life. I also had my periods of homesickness and loneliness, confusion at Swiss customs and ways of life, and moments when I wondered whether I’d get through it all. Of course I did, and along the way I learned as much about myself as I did of Switzerland. And ultimately, I had a thoroughly wonderful few years I’ll treasure the rest of my life.
The difference-maker to me, and the single most important advice I would give to a new arrival in Geneva, is membership with the American International Women’s Club. I wasn’t sure if the Club was for me at first; however, my delay in joining resulted in me having a thoroughly lonely first couple of months in Geneva. I joined the AIWC two months after our move and believe that belonging to this group of strong, smart, diverse, and fun women made all the difference in making Geneva my home. From hiking to baking, blogging to photography, volunteering to excursions, most of what I experienced in Geneva was tied in some way to the AIWC; leaving the club was one of the most difficult parts of saying goodbye.
Beyond the AIWC, I fell in love with all sorts of different aspects of Geneva and of Switzerland and I would highly recommend any new arrival explore the culinary options at hand. I loved cheese long before moving to Switzerland, but I reached a new level of appreciation (and a new number on the scale!) not long after my arrival. The same went for chocolate and local Swiss wine. A good way to sample local wine is to attend Caves Ouvertes in May or the Russin Harvest Festival in September; a visit to Gruyères and Broc introduce you to the home of Gruyère cheese and Cailler chocolate. Don’t miss smaller festivals throughout the year to sample more local fare, such as the Fête de la Tomate each summer in Carouge and the Fête de la Courge each autumn in Corsier.
Also, for such a small country, Switzerland has a surprising number of villages and mountains worth exploring. With the train system, one need only travel a short hop outside of Geneva to be surrounded by fields, vineyards and the Swiss Alps. My family bought SBB half-fare cards after we arrived which enable us to ride all of Switzerland’s trains at a reduced price, and we spent all seasons in every year exploring the country. We hiked in and around Zermatt each summer, saw the tulips bloom in Spring near Morges, watched cows descend from their summer pastures in St. Cergue at October’s Desalpes festivals, attended the annual White Turf horse races in St. Moritz during snowy February, celebrated August’s Swiss National Day near Lucerne, jazzed it up in Montreux in July, watched hot air balloons soar over Chateau-d’Oex in January and browsed Christmas markets near Montreux in November and December.
I hope you consider joining the AIWC as I did, but more importantly, I hope you make the most of your time in Switzerland whether you’re here for a short visit or a permanent relocation.
Bienvenue à Genève!
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/
Cortney, you definitely made the most of Switzerland while you were here. I think you have seen more of the country than most Swiss. Thank you for sharing your favorite events and places.
We sure miss you.
You’re too kind, Alpenhorn! I miss you as well and look forward to seeing you down the road. Switzerland, and all the friends I made in Geneva, will always have a place in my heart.