I interview Vivi about her after thoughts of going to school in Switzerland (Luc’s actual school!).
Before you started school in
Switzerland, do you remember what you thought or felt about going to school
That’s a hard question. I was scared to not make any new friends. Cuz they
would all laugh about my accent. And how did it work out? It worked
out fine actually, I made a lot of new friends.
was your first impressions of Swiss school? I don’t know. That’s a hard question again. This was a lot
more different then I thought it was going to be. In what way? Some things that I didn’t know what they meant in
French, I’m like, Ok I think that’s what she’s saying, but I don’t know… Is she
saying that or is she saying that? Cuz I don’t know which one. I was a little
bit confused. It was more at the beginning.
did you feel in the beginning? Scared. Was there
anything that helped you not be scared? Getting used to it, going every day. What helped you? Somebody explained to
me everything. A friend. Avril. Merci Avril. Would you say you were outside your comfort zone? Yes at the beginning. But then it became the
new normal. It was kinda like school in Canada but in French and in a different
country – when I was done. Did anybody
laugh at your accent? I think a couple did but then they got used to it. I
was the most fun thing? Going to the train to go to the pool, the gym, I love the
train and that’s it.
was the thing you liked to do the most in school? Everything that I just said. Ummm… ACM -> where you do
crafts, stuff for other people too, when it was Halloween, we made little baskets
with skulls on them, I filled it up with candy and give it to someone. Did you like singing? When did I sing?
Yeah, I like singing… but I didn’t need to do it in front of the whole class.
was the thing you liked to do the least? Math, and we all had different things to do everyday – so every
week we had to change so once I was sweeping and once I was mopping and once I
was cleaning tables and I don’t like doing that. Do you do that in Canada? No…. uh a little bit – I forget. What about dictee? No, cuz I only got
for 5 months I only got 2 times right.
is something that is your favorite memory? My birthday cuz they all did a parade and said Canada!
Canada! Canada! And some people’s birthday and also the train to go to the pool
and the pool and the gym and yeah. What was it like staying for lunch some
days at school? The first day was really scary because I didn’t get what was happening. My
best friend explained what was happening, she went there last year and she
helped me and so that helped a lot. What
happens there? You get picked up when you get out of your class, then he
collects all the people, and you go to a different room near the gym, you wash
your hands, you go to a table that you want, he says “anybody that wants to
serve your table?” and you have to put your hand up and you all have to agree.
Your table all has to agree what person. And then all of the people who want to
collect the food, and then they go in line
to collect the food, and the adults put the food on the plate and then you
serve it to your table. What kinds of
foods did you eat? Burgers. Once we ate taco, and we ate a whole bunch of other
foods [like vegetables, and soup, and fruit] and we always have fruit for desert
in Switzerland. When you’re done you brush your teeth and you have your name on
a tooth brush and you have a special place to put your goblet and tooth brush on
a shelf. They gave us the toothbrush but you have to get it.
you learn new games you can teach your friends ? Yeah, I forget what they are called but I learned card
games, outside games, inside games – there’s a lot of games.
was your teacher like? Her name is Madame Amandine and she was really nice. She
really, oh man I forget, [you told me that she was really nice to, and that she
really helped you feel a part of the class and explained things to you as you
were new to the class, and with cursive writing, everyone was a year ahead and
she really helped you with that but you also told me she was strict and no nonsense.]
Yes all of that but only a little bit strict.
What are some of the differences
between Swiss school and Canadian school? They don’t speak French that much in Canada. Usually the
kids just talk in English at recess. But it was really different because
sometimes I said words in English, and they copied it but really with a French
What difference would you bring back to
Canada if you could? I don’t know. What
was some of the things that you really liked in Switzerland and wish you had in
Canada. Swimming and eating [the canteen, a hot lunch every day], ACM [crafts],
sometimes you go in a bus and you go to a place, so I was group “boat”, let’s
say, and sometimes I need to go over to another school. I made a pouch for
pencil crayons and stuff like that and I made it all by hand and I choose my
own colours and my own buttons for the eyes and different stuff like that. And also
sometimes I go to a different school and sometimes the one go to a different
school. We made a basket for Halloween. It was really cool ACM. So you didn’t do that in Canada? No. You have different tools? Yeah, a
cursive pen – ink pen. When you do
crafts in Canada, what’s the difference? I don’t know. I forget.
Which school do you like better? I like both. 😀
Are you better at speaking and reading
in French now? Yeah! Yeah.
Would you go back again? That’s a hard question because I miss Canada right now, but
if I lived in Switzerland, yeah.
If you had a friend that was in Canada
and going to Swiss school and that was a bit worried what would you tell them? The first time I went there it was a little scary, but once
I got used to it it was really fun!
Thanks so much Vivi! Super appreciate
you answering all my questions. Your welcome!
was like Christmas when Jaedyn came to visit. It actually was Christmas eve
when she arrived. Vivi and I were so looking forward to her coming. She has
this joyous disposition to her and she’s my little girl and Vivi’s big sister.
hadn’t seen her since we said good bye to her in New York about 5.5 months
before. Of course she was tired from such a long flight(s) and it took a good
couple of days for her to get over her jet lag.
is magical in Switzerland. We had a wonderful Christmas celebrating with her,
Vivi, Luc, Guy, Camille, Elise, Moreno and his mother Gabriella. They lit up
the Christmas tree with real candles and we played a lot of games and ate a lot
of food. Gabriella and Moreno are Italian so we had some exquisite Lasagna and
next morning we loaded up and drove to Morzine, France to an Airbnb chalet that
we had rented for 6 days all together. But before we got there, we stopped in
Evian to visit quickly, buy some mussels???, and fill our water bottles up with
free pure Evian water – the stuff you buy at the grocery store. It just easier
comes out of the wall in Evian.
there wasn’t any snow in the ski village of Morzine and the mountain snow was
kinda shit (from what I understand). Some people went skiing and boarding while
the rest of us explored the town. Vivi and Jaedyn also went skating at the
outdoor skating rink, and we drank some more hot mulled wine.
night was a feast. We all took turns cooking and we didn’t scrimp at all on the
day some of us walked around the ski mountain on the trails and we all met up
for lunch. Another day Gabriella, Luc, Vivi, Jaedyn and myself walked around a frozen lake that
reminded me of Durrance Lake in the winter time.
New Years Eve day, Jaedyn, myself and Vivi decided we wanted to stay home and
it’s a good thing we did. Violette started puking at about 9am and didn’t stop
until that evening. She spent New Years on the couch – poor thing. We rung in
the New Year all together.
left the next day and our family headed to Lauren and Francois’ house to spend
some time just the 4 of us together before we separated again. It was
wonderful. Lauren and family were up the mountain and said we could crash at
their place to have some alone time.
we were there, we went to Lausanne one more time. I also caught what Vivi had
but was sick for much longer. And of course, Jaedyn wanted to go to Vevey and
Pizza Taxi for a walk down memory lane (as I did) so the three girls did that
while Luc went and played up the mountain with his friends. It was fun
remembering what things were like 8 years before. Of course Vivi didn’t
remember but Jaedyn remembered it fondly so it was nice to share these moments
We also celebrated Vivi’s actual birthday with some family members over lunch. Again it was so awesome that Jaedyn could be there for that special day as she is used to spending her birthday with friends and family from Canada.
loved that she came. It was the best gift I could have received. She provided
so much emotional support for me and much needed empathy. For Vivi, she was so
thrilled to get to spend time with Jaedyn and have fun with her. Vivi is
happiest when all the family is together, so I think this really helped her to
not miss Canada quite as much.
booked a flight for Jaedyn to leave the day before we left so we could see her
off to the airport. It was hard, as anticipated, to say goodbye again to Jaedyn
knowing we wouldn’t see her for another 6 months. I miss her terribly (I’m
writing this 3 months after we said goodbye to her).
day before dropping her off, we spent hours and hours organizing what we were
bringing travelling. We also left some stuff behind in Switzerland and we sent
a piece of luggage with Jaedyn. We had too much stuff so we also have to ship a
box back to Canada as well which we dropped off in France (because it’s
cheaper) after dropping Jaedyn off at the airport. This was much more
complicated than you would imagine. In the end we also had a donation bag as
well. But we got it all organized and packed. I brought entirely too much stuff
with me for the second half of the trip but figured it was mostly stuff I could
leave behind and part with if need be. Turns out I actually sent a box home
from Thailand and another box with some of our souvenirs from Vietnam.
said goodbye to Luc’s parents and thank them so much for everything they have
done for us these past 5 months. Thank you for letting us stay with you and in
your studio. Thank you for the wonderful meals. Thank you for looking after
Violette while Luc was on the Camino with me. Thank you for letting us use your
car and driving us all over Switzerland. Thank you for your incredible
hospitality and generosity. I’m so happy that Vivi could spend these months
getting to know you both and that Luc had a chance to connect again with you
concludes this portion of the European trip. We move to South East Asia in my
next blog post. Check this map to see where we’ve been and
where we’re going.
post is going to be a bit longer than normal. I’m going to attempt to capture
the highlights as well as what I was feeling on the inside. I’ve been thinking
a lot about this particular blog post as I feel now, as I look back, that it
was a really hard time for me emotionally, but now I see what I was doing and
why and what I should have done and what I’ve learned about myself going
Lausanne I love Lausanne. The architecture,
the feeling of the city, the cobblestone streets. I visited Lausanne several
times. Once with Kim. Once with Vivi. Once for a date night. It’s only about 15
mins by train (the LEB) from Luc’s parents’ house in Jouxtens to Lausanne.
Lausanne in Christmas time is just so picturesque. It’s hard to really put a
finger on what it is but it’s like this fusion of old historical buildings with
new funky vibe. When you go, visit the Cathedral for outstanding views of the
Vevey This place has my heart. 8 years ago
we lived here when I was on maternity leave. Jaedyn would go to school down in
Vevey and me and Vivi (6 months old) hung out in a little apartment while Luc
went to work during the day. Vevey is right beside the lake and has the most
incredible vibe. The lakeside is the best part of it and we really loved Pizza
Taxi both 8 years ago and even today. You might know this place by the giant
fork or the Charlie Chaplin statue. This year they are having the Fete de
Vingeron (only every 25 years or so) and Luc had hoped that he could go back
there before heading home at the end of July. It’s not to be. We came to Vevey
over and over again for a date day, for a date pizza and when Jaedyn came for
Christmas we came here to reminisce and walk around and of course visit Pizza
Taxi. I feel one day I will live here again beside the lake when I’m old and want
to stare at the lake and mountains forever.
We walked from Vevey to Montreux one day and it wasn’t exactly as we had
remembered. We thought there was a beautiful lakeside path that took you the
whole way but in actuality there a lot of road walking. As you get closer to
Montreux, the path comes back and it’s gorgeous. We had a DELICIOUS fondue at
the Christmas Market (I didn’t really share because I think Luc made fun of me –
you’d think he’d learn). The Christmas Market here is really outstanding. Lots
of things to buy and mulled wine and so many things to taste. Montreux is where
the rich and famous come so be sure to stop by here if in you’re in the area.
It is beautiful and also lakeside.
Geneva Vivi and I took a train one day to Geneva in
December. Luc didn’t want to go but wanted to visit with some friends and play
in the snow so her and I went. I really wanted her to see Geneva and I hadn’t
been yet since coming back to Switzerland.
It was COLD! About -2 I think. We explored: visited the
outside of the United Nations, walked along the lakeside, had a sandwich, hot
chocolate, the Christmas Market and watch the Jet D’eau. We basically walked
until we were too cold and then ducked inside to get warm and then outside
again. Geneva is an old city. Almost hygienic in its cleanliness and lack of
colour. I’m glad I went, I was equally glad we went home. On the way home, the
train stopped for about a half an hour because it said that something was on
the rail road tracks. I had heard earlier that this happens a lot because
people jump in front of the train to commit suicide. No idea if that’s what
this was, but we got out and walked home from that stop.
Opening of Dr. Gabs Dr. Gabs…. Delicious dark (or light) micro-brew beer. I loved this beer. This company was created by 3 men who went to school together (one of them lived down the road from Luc and is friends with him) and started brewing beer from a birthday present that was given to one of them – a home brew kit. From there they have grown and grown and grown. Luc went to work very part time at the factory.
While we were there, they opened a store/small pub/the lab in the most famous and expensive street in Lausanne: Rue de Bourg. So we had to visit. It was the second week of December, and it was opening night. We had a blast checking out the new digs and the beer was exceptional. Another impromptu date night!
I only wish I could import their beer back to
Canada. It’s that good.
Olympic Museum and Ouchy Some stuff about the school system
in Switzerland bugs the hell out of me. You can’t take your kid out of school
for a day unless you have a doctor’s note. When we went to Ouchy (by the lake)
we wanted to meet Vivi’s class at the train (as they were coming back from the
pool) and then directly get on the train to go to Ouchy. Instead of Vivi walking
back to the school and us walking up to the train again (she would have missed
about 20mins of class time) but the teacher wouldn’t allow it unless she had a doctor’s
Anyway, after doing it the “right” way we got
on the train and headed to Ouchy. There’s something about this place – I think
it’s the proximity to the lake. I’m beginning to realized I’m a water girl through
and through (I am a Pisces after all) and all these places that I adore are
close to massive bodies of water (no wonder I want to go home).
I also have an amazing memory of my stagette starting
here 10 years ago during August. It must be the memories coupled with the water
that gets me all nostalgic.
We walked over to the Olympic Museum and had
lunch with Luc’s cousin, Chiara. It was a delicious lunch and so nice to catch
up with her one last time before leaving.
de Chillon, Luc’s Birthday and Halloween On Luc’s birthday we had a
loooooong lunch and then to Chateau de Chillon beside the lake just past Montreux.
I’ve been in this castle 3 times now I think… It’s really beautiful. I
especially love the dungeon and the story of the guy who lived there for years
and years. Not sure why I like it so much… maybe I’m a bit twisted?
Being that Luc was born on Halloween, every
year he has to share it with the trick or treating. But this year we made it
back too late to trick or treat so Vivi missed out (I think Luc was secretly
happy). We ate cake for dinner. Vivi asked for a salad. I think it was really
nice for Luc to be home for his birthday to spend it with his parents and
Canadian Birthday Party Speaking of birthday’s, Vivi celebrated
her birthday at a patisserie with a few friends the last week of school before
Christmas break. Since she was really missing home, we had a Canadian themed
party! If you can believe it I managed to find some Canadian and BC flags,
little Canada pins for the good bags, Luc had Canada flag stickers from his
stag and we decorated in red and white.
I think it was a pretty big success. It was a
wonderful way for her new friends to send her off and for her to feel like her
birthday was a big deal. Which it was. She maybe missed Canada just a little bit
less for a little bit.
friends While I was there, I got to
reconnect with Lauren and Francois and their two girls. The let us stay in
their place for a few days between New Years and Vivi’s actual birthday.
We had dinner with Julian and Stephanie and
Emily and Yann and their kids. That was really fun. We also partied for Julian’s
birthday (I partied a bit too hard if you know what I mean).
We had a few meals with Maxim and Filis and
their two kids. One extraordinary fondue in their little cabin behind their
house. And another garden meal with Maxim’s parents that was also out of this
I was happy to spend a day with a friend back
home, Kim who coincidentally was there visiting a friend just about 10mins
drive away. That was really neat to see a familiar face so far from home and to
be able to talk about life and such.
to and from school 4 times a day But most of my days after returning
from the Camino was filled with walking 1km to and from school sometimes 8 times
a day. Vivi went to Luc’s old school and she needed to be walked to school in
the morning (the I walked back). Two days a week, she walked home for lunch (we
would meet her to walk her home and then walk her back 1.5 hours later). And
finally at the end of the school day.
Now, something that Luc and I didn’t agree
upon was whether should could walk alone. I felt that 8 years old walking that
distance, without a phone, was too far. Call me reserved, scared, fearful,
whatever, this is just how I felt. Luc on the other hand was totally fine for
her to walk there and back alone – so you can imagine the contention.
For the most part I liked walking her. It got
me outside, away from the house, in the fresh air. It was time that we got to
be together and the view was gorgeous. It didn’t rain much either and sometimes
we drove if we were running late. Sometimes I would meditate on the walk home.
A lot of times I would walk Vivi to school and then I would set off on a run
somewhere or a walk to Renens to take some time by myself. I would also walk to
a bench and then meditate.
loved running around Jouxtens and the area. It was fall and the leaves were
changing and it was cool. My body temp tends to run a bit on the hotter side so
running in the fall is perfection. The cool temps, gorgeous leaves, beautiful
swiss architecture – it’s all just a little wonderful.
my business and writing my book At least 3 times a week I would
walk to Renens to a coffee shop there and work on building my business and
writing my book. Sometimes I would do research for our trip. I would spend a
good 4 hours there before I needed to come back for lunch or something. I loved
this time to myself and away from the house. It was always a peaceful time for
me – getting to be me.
Airbnb rental After a while of living with Luc’s parents in their house, I felt we really
needed to connect as a family unit again. So I looked up a little Airbnb not
too far away so that Vivi could still go to school on the Friday and the
and I had a lot of conversations about this Airbnb rental. He felt that his
parents would wonder why. He wanted to go further so we could explore somewhere
else. He didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I held strong in that I wanted
this place to be a place of down time. To play games, watch movies, connect.
This wasn’t a time for sight-seeing. To be honest, Luc and my relationship was
not doing well and Vivi was so homesick. I was close to depression and I needed
to have some time together and away. Some autonomy.
went to visit the Airbnb about 4 days before our check in. It was perfect. We
each had our own rooms, our own kitchen, our own living room and dining room.
Then the woman said that we could come early – 2 days early even for free! It
was like the universe was giving me exactly what I needed and wanted.
took advantage of our time there and entertained for 3 meals. It’s something
that Luc and I really love to do, to have people over to our house, cook a nice
meal and connect. It felt so right to do this in our own space.
in all, the Airbnb was amazing. I’m so glad we went. It at one point was almost
just me and Vivi as I took a strong stand for my well-being and told Luc that
if he didn’t want to go, that was fine, Vivi and I would go alone. He made a
great choice joining us. It was so important for our family to get back to
being our family again.
Kidney Stone Watch: The day after returning to Switzerland from Turkey I went to a Swiss hospital to figure out what is going on. After running some tests, they say my kidneys are functioning well, there was a small infection, but no blockage. They ordered an CAT scan. I got back the results from that scan and the stone was still inside about 70% of the way down my ureter. I spoke with the urologist and he said that the only option left was for us to blast the stone apart with surgery.
We spoke with our travel insurance and because the stone was deemed “finished” in Spain by a doctor, they wouldn’t pay for the surgery in Switzerland. The only option would be to pass it naturally or for us all to go back to Canada to have the surgery. I argued that it wasn’t “finished” but once a hospital discharges you, then it’s marked complete. You can’t go back to the hospital for the same thing twice.
Now we were waiting to find out how much the surgery was going to be. Luc had a wonderful idea: In Switzerland it is mandatory to get insurance. So we opted for insurance for me so if I needed the surgery, I would be covered with the Swiss insurance. No need to go back to Canada (although I was a little excited about that).
Our wonderful friends have a Swiss Chalet high in the mountains of Switzerland called Bretaye. We went to this little chalet 8 years ago when Vivi was 10 months old with Jaedyn. Bretaye is a tiny little village that only approved cars can go to. The houses are all the same make and style and you just feel so back to nature and back to yourself up there.
I have such warm and fond memories of this place. We
celebrated Luc and Jaedyn’s birthday up there and ate the most amazing
raclette. We did a hike up to the top of the mountain to take in the breath
This time things were a bit different emotionally for
me but it was such an amazing place to return to with such special friends.
The week leading up to our trip was probably one of
the worst weeks I’ve had in a long time. It had been an emotional roller
coaster with pain and uncomfortableness in my lower abdomen and bladder. Luc
and I were really not doing well relationship wise, and Vivi really wanted to
But once I got to the mountain and took in the
breathtaking views, it helped to wash away all the bad feelings. We ate a most
delicious raclette again around the fire and then took to outside to take in
the crisp mountain air and the sparkling stunning stars (no light pollution).
Violette played with the kids in the family and it’s
so nice to watch her playing and speaking in French with other kids.
That morning the adults (minus me) headed up to the
top of the mountain. I decided to take some time for myself and look after
myself by doing some meditation and writing.
We had a delicious breakfast outside on the table and
then packed up and me and the ladies walked down while Luc and the fellas drove
to get the car. The walk was absolutely breathtaking. If there’s anything you
can say about Switzerland – it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.
So many thanks to our friends for
taking us up here again. This place holds a special place in my heart and I
can’t thank them enough for sharing their space with them.