What next? Bye bye Switzerland, hello London….
So, I ditched the Demarle family. I cannot say it was the easiest thing I have ever done, but it was the biggest stand I have ever made in my professional life. I was denied the job as a summer camp counselor due to my lack of a Swiss visa and my dream family denied me for being 100% myself. So as relieving as my final day with the Demarle family was, the bubbling nerves I had towards my hazy future were building frantically around every bend in track.
As I sat at the train station that day carrying only one of my three suitcases (after being forced to stash my other two at a friend’s house until I figured out my next move), I thought to myself, “how did it come to this—homeless, jobless and on the brink of penniless in Switzerland—what am I going to do?”
Unfortunately, there were no immediate answers, but there was an immediate attitude change I was willing to make. A mixture of self-pity, doubt and fear is not the kind of pool I like to dip my toes into, so I decided to cannon ball into the ocean of spontaneous fortitude—homeless in Switzerland, bring it on!
I arranged a plan to stay with Lauren, my best friend in Zug, for the week while continuing my hunt for the perfect family. Lauren lives on a ranch where she looks after competitive jumping stallions and works about 60 hours a week. Due to the wish-washy nature of professionalism in Swiss culture, Lauren is afraid to ask her boss for certain favors—a naïve summation from both our experiences with Swiss employers is that favors do not seem to be in the cards, nor does free-time, fairness or fun. Needless to say, my “staying” with her was more like a secret hideout spot since she did not ask her Swiss family. That’s right, I was Anne Frank and her home was my attic—and yes, this did result in a few sweaty, near heart attack eruptions upon some potential encounters with the head honcho. Thank goodness for the bookshelf, the back window and a raging hail storm.
A week before all of this took place I had met with a family—a mother I clicked with more professionally and two kids that made me feel like a big sister right from the get-go. I hung out with this family for a couple of hours—toured the house, played some games with the kids and discussed the legal, personal and professional aspects of the job with the mother. We hit it off, but this time I did not get my hopes up. We exchanged an equal interest in each other and she said she would pursue getting me a visa, but I left my guard up and continued searching. I guess you could call me au pair jaded at this point.
Even though I did not put 100% hope into this family, the mother did offer me some very helpful advice. I mentioned earlier that due to the Schengen Agreement, I am only allotted 90 days as a tourist in mostly all of Europe, and if I want to secure a visa then I have to get my passport stamped before my 90 day limit or else I will be kicked out of Switzerland for a maximum of 6-months. Entela, my potential boss, said my first mission is to leave the Schengen territory before it’s too late. My only possible options for a spur of the moment, affordable and legal retreat was Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ireland or the UK.
Before I knew it, I was buying a one-way ticket to the UK for Tuesday, May 18, better known as my 89th day in Switzerland. My new mission: fly into London and stay with a buddy for a week then sneakily train back in to avoid any overbearing immigration officers.