Are there any Swiss readers out there?
I haven't blogged---or practiced, or worked, or done much of anything in the last two weeks because I'm stressing out over a potential move to Zürich. Yes, this is the job I mentioned two entries ago. Apparently the candidate they were going to hire before receiving my application backed out at the last second. Short version of the story: new round of interviews, job sounds great, they made me an offer.
The problem, however, is that my current U.S. salary, when converted into Swiss francs (CHF) at the current exchange rate, leads to a figure much higher than what anyone else in the group makes, so what they're offering me is somewhat lower. This in itself wouldn't necessarily be unacceptable, as long as I can support my family of four in a city that's among the ten most expensive in the world.
So I'm trying to find out information about taxes and insurance premiums and mandatory contributions to stuff like old-age insurance (their version of Social Security) and unemployment insurance and pension plans, just so I can figure out my take-home pay and whether it's enough to live on. But I can't seem to get this info anywhere. The HR guy in my company is based in Germany so he has no first-hand knowledge, and everything I can find on the web is conflicting and confusing.
If anyone can help, I'll be eternally grateful. So will my much-ignored violin.
This was her first concert, and I thought it would be a good one to start with since 1) it was short (less than an hour), 2) all the program pieces were short, 3) Mommy was playing, to add a level of interest, 4) tickets were cheap so it wouldn't be a big loss if my husband had to leave the hall with her. :)
We needn't have worried; she was so good the entire time, even though there were technical difficulties with the sound system that caused the concert to be delayed by about ten minutes. She did talk a bit, apparently, but it was all about the music. ("What was THAT?" after the cymbal crash in the Poet and Peasant Overture!) I guess she was also getting bored by the end of the concert, because when my husband told her that there was one piece left (the three-movement Karelia Suite) she kept saying, "We're done!" after the tuning, and then after each movement. :)
She also wanted to know what "the big violins" were, and I guess my husband gave her a nice little lesson because this morning while I was practicing, she said, "Mommy has a little violin so she plays high notes! The big violins play low notes!" I let her hold my bow and pluck the strings, and she now knows that the E string is the high one and the G string is the low one. At this rate, I'll have to start searching for Suzuki programs in my area soon!
Though she's only two, Kiera's a big Joshua Bell fan because her mother is, and I've promised her I'll take her to one of his recitals in the spring if she can be this good at every concert. So far, it's looking pretty good.
This bit of wisdom is usually applied to people who become terminally ill or suffer some major loss; fortunately, I have no such incident to report. In my case, it was a big change that didn't happen that helped me realize what I really care about at this stage in my life.
I've been a little dissatisfied with my job in the last few years, and while poking around my company's website about a month ago, I found a position in Switzerland for which I thought I was highly qualified. It was a job that appealed more directly to my training as a physicist rather than as an engineer, and would give me some room to grow professionally, which I haven't felt like I had in my current position. Not to mention that it would give me an easy way to move to Europe, which I've always wanted to do. So during the application process I did a lot of talking with my husband and two-year-old daughter, and I realized that my biggest concerns had nothing to do with culture shock or language barriers or anything like that. Rather, they were all about music:
1) I've just started violin lessons again with a wonderful teacher who takes me places I never thought I could go, and I don't want to give her up yet!
2) I've got subscription tickets to the San Francisco Symphony, including three Joshua Bell concerts in the spring!
3) What am I going to do with my Steinway grand?
These might seem like superficial concerns to many people, but for me they were a sign of two facts about me: a) My life is pretty darn good if those are my biggest worries, and b) Music is really the most important thing to me right now outside of work and family. Moving to Switzerland would have gone a long way toward improving my foreign language skills---which are my other great passion---but it would have required some musical sacrifices that I didn't really want to make.
As it turns out, I didn't get the job; by the time I submitted my application, they'd already interviewed several candidates and were on their way to finalizing a contract with one of them. And in the meantime, I'm finally getting support from upper management to do a project I've been trying to champion for over a year, so I think I'll be able to find satisfaction here after all. So I'll stay here in the U.S. a bit longer, focus on my music, and maybe the next time such an opportunity rolls around, it will really be the right time for me.
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