Before easter I escaped to my secret countryside retreat, which also acted as the base for some intensive German studying. And it was perfect, with private teacher in the form of one active retired teacher, and a weather like in the best summer days up north. (Wasn’t that hot to compare it to the best Swiss summer days, though it was close.)
Did learn a lot and rest even more. The learning like in those perfect intensive summer courses in Italy for Italian and Spanish in Spain, and the resting like I really needed at this point. More than 8 hours of sleep every night and active resting in the form of easy gravel biking, yoga and walks in the nature.
Also it was the days for the first cherry blossoms and the white magnolias. And like always, Vierwaldstättersee – experienced this time hanging by the lake in Weggis and Küssnacht – was pure kitsch. Creating scenes way more exciting than home office cubicles. (Sorry, not sorry). During these days I also noted how the e-bike is very good invention for the lunching ladies over 65 years of age. For everyone else, I recommend an e-less bike, especially in the mountains. Because trust me, the exercise is what you really need and challenges are the best teachers.
It was a bit bittersweet week also, because I now enjoyed nice spring days near a place I really hoped (without luck) to be my workplace in the future too. Now I just have to keep on biking around Zug, Cham and Vierwaldstättersee only for fun, and not for commutes and lunch break rides. Which isn’t bad, yet not really hygge.
I mean, who wouldn’t like to have their afterwork look more often like this?
,Maybe all the very good things require extra effort.
Around the end of March last year, I worked the last days of my seasonal job of that winter. Which wasn’t a great time to finish a temporary contract with no new contract waiting.
Right then, pandemic happened and most of the country (Switzerland) went into lockdown. Which meant closed shops and tourism and distance requirements (this rule should be kept though, pandemic or not; greetings from an introverted Finn). To make things even worse for me in person, also my permit was tied to the previous work I had. This solved eventually just fine, but required way more paperwork and innovativeness than in other circumstances.
During the pandemic, I haven’t been entitled for any additional support nor helping adjustments; except the help (and bikes) I got from my family. (Extremely grateful for them and very aware what kind of privilege I now have.) For me, there wasn’t any kurzarbeit (the Swiss/German system supporting the firms and workers in a crisis like pandemic). Nor was I entitled for unemployment benefits. I also didn’t have any holidays previously not taken to allow me to take a breather. (I would have really needed it. Then and now.)
From Big Plans To Small Victories
Spring of 2020 and the following year was a difficult one. Although the pandemic didn’t affect me the worst. Pretty far from it. After the year, I may even say that the year was one of the best I have ever lived. Challenging, difficult and tiring, yes. But also exciting, rewarding and full of pretty nice moments.
Apparently, over the years I have effectively build up a good resilience reserve. And may I say, a bit of native sisu as well.
2020-2021 helped me to grow and develop my person and skills tremendously, and it helped me to see that I really was, and still am, on the right path for me. In 2020 I also managed to make enough effort for the requirements of a more permanent residence permit and my official Master’s degree. Though as the global style went, no big parties for those achievements.
Last year in February/March, when the pandemic started, I had big plans – or may I say wishes – for the year.
I wanted to make big steps. I wanted go visit Lapland in spring, to ski nordic and celebrate my dad turning 60. I also planned to make a second, a bit longer, visit to Lapland in summer. To run and volunteer in Jukola orienteering relay under the midnight sun in Rovaniemi, near the Arctic Circle, and to make an inventory on my things still in a storage in Lapland, to finally get the last essential pieces to Switzerland. And in Autumn, I was planning to celebrate the wedding of my dear friend in Lapland, and see the many babies born to my friends in 2020.
Well, as you may easily guess by now, none of that happened. I still have my stuff in the storage in Lapland and haven’t seen the babies, who by now are already boys and girls walking around.
In 2020 I also hoped for many things to happen in Switzerland.
In summer, with my new road bike, I wanted to bike few Alpine passes or at least the Grosse Scheidegg in Jungfrau Region. With my mountain bike, I wished to make trips to Lenzerheide and Flumserberg.
On foot, I was planning to run, if not the whole Via Alpina across whole Switzerland then at least some stretches of it, and stay a night or two in the mountain huts on the way.
More than else, I waited 2020 to gift me with free weekends, or at least Sundays. To have more free days together with the person in these pictures. (For a year before the spring of 2020 I had worked basically every weekend and holiday, while he was and still is mainly working on weekdays and having the weekends and public holidays free.)
Well, also those things didn’t happen. I executed very good plan b’s though, and between the springs of 2020 and 2021 managed to do many great adventures. I biked, hiked and ran many nice tours, and even swam few times in the lovely Swiss lakes. I also got into sauna once, despite not having my own and the public saunas closed for the pandemic reasons. And I celebrated my first proper Christmas in Switzerland, free from work with my dear Swiss family.
Most happy I have been, despite all the challenges, about how I also managed to work enough for my money. First, it required me to do some random babysitting gigs. Then, it required switching my German studies to a whole new level; intensive and practical learning alongside working when I was happy to spent a busy summer waitressing (without any proper education and just a few days of previous experience). In autumn, I did a brief stint in remote sales project work in my home office in the mountains (yes, for a while I was also part of that trendy group of people working in the mountains during pandemic).
It Could Have Been Worse
With those random jobs and ad hoc schedules – on top of the pandemic – it was impossible to realise my initial dreams and plans for 2020.
But when I write this in the spring of 2021, when I again for about a month have had mostly free weekends and extra uncertainty similar to last spring, I can’t help thinking that there’s been certain beauty in everything. I don’t support the all positive vibes bs, nor the idea that every good thing requires hell a lot fight and struggle. No pain no gain works sometimes, not always.
In my life, I am now mostly grateful for what I have and have gotten; to experience and to keep. Which is pretty damn lot, in a global picture at least. I mean, I have also have managed to live this far without the virus in my body.
And during the two March 2021 skitours in the pictures I really realised how I really know how to live my life well. Also, I understood that while it’s all the time becoming more pain in the * to ski with the over 10 year old ski-binding-boot set-up, it’s on the other hand very sustainable, responsible way of skiing. Especially if and when combined with powder turns well earned by skinning and bootpacking instead of carving groomers after a lift assisted uphill.
And how that living well most of the times requires the effort, the challenge, the tiring uphill and scary unknown causing stress and worry. One time you are rewarded with a fluffy powder run and a cold beer after sauna. Another time it’s a dream job and a new language learned (my latest learned language comes with the ability to chat comfortably with the local population, and that’s great).
Funnily enough, I also found myself in Lenzerheide this spring. Though not with bike (yet) but with nordic skis and permission to visit hammam. Grateful for that, yet hoping that this year doesn’t turn as challenging as the previous. So that I finally get to Lenzerheide with my bike and that I get to spent more weekends with this butt.