Despite all the craziness in the world, things are continuing to progress toward our August move. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, international Foreign Service moves are currently frozen through the end of June, and then they’re going to possibly start opening up again on a post-by-post basis.
Some countries are obviously in better shape than others at the moment. Happily, Switzerland seems to be recovering and is starting to ease their border restrictions. Unlike the UK, they aren’t currently requiring a two-week home quarantine. So I’m hoping that by August, we will have a green light to go.
Assuming that we will be leaving on time, I’ve continued running down my pre-departure checklist. Over the last two weeks I’ve exchanged a dozen emails with my future desk officer, HR at post, the visa folks at State, and the Swiss Embassy trying to figure out how to get a Swiss long-stay visa while everything is closed. To my pleasant surprise, everyone was super helpful and responsive, and this afternoon I popped our application materials into a FedEx envelope and sent them on their way.
Applying for visas always stresses me out. I envision forgetting to check one little box and the whole thing getting derailed. And I did get a bit of confusing information along the way, so it’s always good to triple check!
One of the things that freaked me out was the requirement that my passport be good through the duration of our three-year stay. Dip passports are only good for five years at a time, so the odds of these two things coinciding is slim. I panicked a bit thinking that I was going to have to renew my dip passport before applying for a visa…even though it’s still good for another year. But I was assured that I could renew it once I got to Switzerland, I would just have to re-apply for a visa and redo all the other local paperwork. I am quite okay with that.
I tried reserving our plane tickets through the State travel agency, and they too replied quickly. I figured they’d be slammed when things start moving again, so I thought it best to get it out of the way. I had a reservation for a few weeks until United (the gov’t contracted carrier) dropped the DC-to-Geneva route and cancelled my res. The travel agency suggested I touch base with them in June to see how things are going with air travel, so that’s my plan.
Apparently my dog is also too big to fly on United, so the pet shipper that I contacted recommended Lufthansa. That will set me back a whopping $3,000 when it’s time to go. Good thing we don’t do this every year! The cat will be flying as accompanied baggage. And you can bet that I’m going to try to find a way to avoid bringing them back to the States for home leave if we get posted to another European country in 2023.
I also sent in the necessary info to initiate the eventual packing up of our household effects, UAB, and POV (car) in July. Although I think I might have put the wrong engine number on the form. So I’ll have to fix that on Monday. AND I’ve done some shopping on Wayfair to make my shipment heavier and our all-white future apartment more colorful.
I’ve picked up some new dining chairs and a couple of rugs since our new place is going to be all tile. I bought a cheap sideboard to put in the hallway. I still need to buy a new couch, but I wanted to see how Wayfair delivered first. If they dropped everything in the lobby, and I had to drag it to the fifth floor, that could’ve been a problem. But they delivered it right to the door every time!
So I feel good! I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot of the really important things. If we do leave on time, WE ONLY HAVE TWO MONTHS LEFT IN THE US!! The last three have been kind of a bust, but at least I’m no longer bummed about the fact that we don’t get home leave before we head overseas. All of my son’s summer camps were cancelled, so by the time we leave, I will have been working from home for five months and will be ready to get the heck out of Dodge!!